Category Archives: ANES

Americans are more sympathetic to the poor and more resentful of the rich than previous research indicates

Post developed by Katie Brown and Spencer Piston.

The gap between the rich and poor in the United States is growing. Occupy Wall Street, fast food worker strikes, and other manifestations of this gap make headlines often. And just a few weeks ago, President Obama visited the University of Michigan to champion raising the minimum wage.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

Despite these movements, previous academic work suggests Americans look down on the poor. The news media perpetuate this message. The Economist claims, “Americans want to join the rich, not soak them,” while The New York Times published an article with the headline, “New Resentment of the Poor.”

But what if previous research and the mainstream media are wrong? What if anti-rich movements better capture the American ethos? Center for Political Studies (CPS) affiliate and Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan Spencer Piston investigated this issue.

Piston addresses this question with an innovative approach. Previous scholarship measures attitudes with questions about “economic inequality” and “government-led redistribution.” But these are terms that survey respondents rarely use without prompting, and Piston finds reason to believe that many Americans don’t understand what these terms mean.

Piston therefore begins with a straightforward but rarely-used survey technique: he asks people how they feel about the poor and the rich. Piston examines answers to these questions using an original survey, and supplemented with American National Election Studies (ANES) data. The graphs below depict feelings of (a) deservingness, (b) sympathy, and (c) resentment toward and the rich and the poor. As we can see, people tend to see the rich as deserving less and the poor deserving more.  They also see the poor as more sympathetic than the rich, and the rich as objects of more resentment than the poor.

Feelings toward the Rich and Poor

a. Do the (rich, poor) have more or less money than they deserve?

b. How often have you felt sympathy for (rich, poor) people?

c. How often have you felt resentment toward (rich, poor) people?

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What effect might these Robin Hood attitudes have on elections? Piston tested this with several survey experiments. He finds that that a candidate who supports the poor garners more support among voters than an otherwise identical candidate who hurts the poor, regardless of the candidate’s party.

Effects of Candidate’s Record on Mean Support for the Candidate

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Taken together, these results suggest that previous research has overestimated public support for economic inequality and public opposition to downward redistribution. When survey questions are worded using terms that survey respondents more commonly use, it appears that many Americans want government to give more to the poor – and to take from the rich.

Spencer Piston will join Syracuse University in the fall as an Assistant Professor of Political Science.

Voting Advice Applications

Post developed by Katie Brown and Ioannis Andreadis.

Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) are web platforms that help voters determine the candidate or the political party that best matches their own political ideology. Visitors answer a series of questions to gauge their political positions. The VAA platform then estimates the similarity or dissimilarity of these positions to those of candidates or parties.

There are various ways to present these estimates. One option is to display a list of the candidates or parties along with a number indicating the similarity or dissimilarity of each. Another option is a graph like the one below from Greece, where issues from the election are represented on each axis, and users can visualize their ideological position relative to that of the parties.

Example of diagram used by the Greek VAA www.votematch.gr which is used for the elections for the European Parliament. Left/Right is the horizontal axis and Pro-Europeanism/Euroscepticism is the vertical axis. The logos of the political parties indicate their ideological position and the center of the concentric circles indicate the position of the user.

Example of diagram from the Greek VAA www.votematch.gr from the elections for the European Parliament. Left/Right is represented by the horizontal axis and Pro-Europeanism/Euroscepticism is represented by the vertical axis. The political party logos indicate their ideological position and the center of the concentric circles indicates the position of the user.

Another example of VAAs in action is Vote Match Europe, an international network of VAAs for the 2014 European Parliament elections across fourteen EU countries.  The Vote Match Europe website allows users to see the parties closest to them across all of the countries in the network, and to learn more about the parties and their policies. A goal of the Vote Match Europe website is to promote European citizenship and better inform citizens about the elections for the European Parliament at large.

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Ioannis Andreadis is Assistant Professor of Quantitative Methods in the Department of Political Sciences at Aristotle University Thessaloniki.  This semester, he is a scholar in residence at the Center for Political Studies (CPS), seeking to learn more about the American National Elections Studies (ANES) and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) under a grant from the Fulbright Program.

In his capacity as a researcher, Andreadis has studied and written about VAAs, and he also both designs and studies VAAs. In particular, he created and oversees the Voting Advice Application HelpMeVote. HelpMeVote was used by more than 480,000 voters during the May 2012 Greek Parliamentary Elections. The application was also used in Iceland and Albania, and is currently being used for the 2014 European Parliament election.

In a recent paper, Andreadis tackles the question of utility of VAAs.  He suggest that VAAs must be built to high academic standards, and realize the following benefits:

  1. VAAs help voters should become more knowledgeable about party positions, allowing the voters to make better choices.
  2. VAAs help political parties not covered in traditional media to connect with voters who agree with their values.
  3. VAAs generate data that researchers can use to better understand voting behavior.

VAAs are growing in popularity in places with multi-party systems and high Internet availability – for example, in Western Europe.

In electoral systems with only two parties, VAAs may be less useful given the limited choice set. If a VAA had been used for the 2009 Greek elections or earlier – when two major Greek political parties dominated national politics – it probably would not have been as popularly used.  But in the 2012 elections, the Greek parliament featured seven parties, making way for a new VAA market.

With this in mind, adaptation to America’s two party system poses challenges. VAAs could be used in American primaries, where many candidates from the same party compete against each other, but only if candidates running in the same primary have very different positions on enough issues.

Could some seemingly racist sentiments be more about white in-group identification than out-group animosity?

Post developed by Katie Brown and Ashley Jardina.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

This month, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy made headlines. What started as a battle against the U.S. Federal Government for his cattle and land turned into daily press conferences. As part of the Sovereign Movement, Bundy used the attention to propagate an anti-government agenda and racist ideas. Across the country at Princeton University, freshman Tal Fortgang also made headlines with his essay, “Checking my Privilege.” His championing of white privilege garnered backlash in the press. What do Bundy and Fortgang have in common? Both demonstrate reactions to a perceived status threat to whites.

Center for Political Studies (CPS) affiliate and Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan Ashley Jardina studies white identification. In particular, she argues that threats to dominant status make racial identity salient. Does this in turn influence support for political policies that could eliminate such status threats?

To answer this question, Jardina analyzed data from the American National Election Studies (ANES). Especially relevant is a measure of racial identity importance available for the first time in the 2012 ANES. This measure let Jardina gauge the extent to which white Americans feel that being white is important to their identity. She looks at whether this white identity relates attitudes toward policies (e.g., immigration) and candidates (e.g., Barack Obama) that exacerbate threats to white dominance. Immigration especially threatens whites’ dominance, because it drives demographic changes whereby whites are being displaced as the majority racial group in the nation. Likewise, as the country’s first African American president, Obama also represents a status threat.

Previous work has argued that out-group attitudes, either toward Hispanics or blacks, primarily drive whites’ attitudes toward immigration policy and support for Obama. But Jardina constructs models to explicitly test the relationship between in-group / out-group feelings. She finds in-group identity to be a more powerful and consistent predictor of restrictive immigration policies than out-group attitudes, including evaluations of Hispanics. Furthermore, whites who identified with their racial group were significantly less likely to vote for Obama, even after controlling for racial prejudice or resentment.  Her results are replicated using two other datasets. Jardina concludes, “These results lend support for the notion that, in some important cases, a desire to protect the in-group, rather than dislike for the out-group, primarily drives opinion.”

Ashley Jardina will join Duke University in the fall as an Assistant Professor of Political Science.

How ANES time series data enabled Lynn Vavreck’s book The Message Matters

Post Developed by Lynn Vavreck and Katie Brown.

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email (cps-center@umich.edu) or Twitter (@umisrcps).

In this post, we consider the impact of ANES on a seminal work in the field, Lynn Vavreck’s The Message Matters.

Lynn Vavreck is a Professor of Political Science and Communication Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her book, The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns, considers the role of the economy and candidate’s reactions to the economy in determining election outcomes.

Vavreck supports this idea by analyzing six decades of elections. She considers why, when, and how campaign messages matter. The election data came from the American National Election Studies (ANES), underscoring the utility of time series data. Vavreck writes of her experience writing the book…

Without the ANES, I never could have written The Message Matters, which essentially treated each presidential candidate over the last 17 elections as an observation. With only 34 cases to work with, I leveraged the power of the tens of thousands of cases the ANES offered over that same time period to test implications of my work among voters. Because of these data, I was able to show that the things presidential candidates talk about in their campaigns affect voters in predictable and important ways. Quite apart from being irrelevant, presidential campaigns play an important role in election outcomes.

Using ANES data, Vavreck concludes that the economy is the single most important feature of elections since 1950, affirming prior research in the field. The Message Matters goes one step farther, demonstrating that it is against the economic backdrop that candidates must cast themselves. The messages they promote matter. In particular, how they speak about the economy matters. And how they speak about other issues matters, particularly as it affects room for discourse about the economy.

The Message Matters garnered critical praise upon its release. Paul M. Sniderman, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Stanford University, writes, “I have not read a book of comparable elegance of argument and mastery of analysis in years. It is outstanding on three dimensions. In its combination of analytical depth and economy, it is a model for research on election campaigns. In its fusion of theory and empirics, it is a model for research in political science. In its principled, persistent, ingenious efforts to turn up evidence against its own hypotheses, it is a model for the social sciences.” Larry M. Bartels, Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt, raves, “Vavreck’s creative theorizing and informative historical analysis will change the way political scientists think about presidential campaigns. While giving campaign strategists their overdue due, she also sheds invaluable light on how political contexts shape their strategies and their odds of success.”   Campaign consultant and pollster Stanley Greenberg declared the book “a must read” for future presidential candidates.

In sum, Vavreck’s important book was made possible in part by the time series data provided by ANES.

Moral conviction stymies political compromise

Post developed by Katie Brown and Timothy Ryan

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Partisanship gets in the way of political progress. Hillary Clinton made this common claim last week. The lack of compromise inherent to partisanship is worth investigating. What causes such non-cooperation?

Timothy Ryan, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Michigan’s Department of Political Science and affiliate of the Center for Political Studies (CPS), seeks to answer this question. In a paper presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Political Science Association – “No Compromise: Political Consequences of Moralized Attitudes” – Ryan ran four studies to understand non-cooperation.

Ryan’s overarching hypothesis boils non-compromise down to morals: a moral mindset orients citizens to oppose political compromises and punish compromising politicians. There are all kinds of issues for which some citizens seem resistant to compromises: tax reform, same-sex marriage, collective bargaining, etc. But who is resistant? Ryan shows that part of the answer has to do with who sees these issues through a moral lens.

Ryan tests moral conviction’s effect on compromise. Data come from the American National Elections Studies (ANES), as well as surveys of undergraduates, participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and citizens found via GfK Research (his work was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)). Ryan also considers several types of compromises: hypothetical, actual, positions citizens want their elected officials to adopt, and a willingness to accept a monetary reward only if a disliked group (the Tea Party or the Progressive Change Campaign Committee) also receives a donation.

Participants with moral conviction around an issue are less likely to compromise. Hypothetical and real world compromises were hindered. Compromising politicians received less support. Personal gain was sacrificed to avoid the gain of the Tea Party (if a political adversary). As Ryan concludes, “Different attitude characteristics relate to compromise in different ways, with moral conviction being a particularly potent obstacle to compromise.”

In the fall, Ryan will continue his work on morality when he joins the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Assistant Professor of Political Science.

 

The impact of ANES on the careers of Goldenberg, Green, Jones-Correa and Philpot

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email (cps-center@umich.edu) or Twitter (@umisrcps).

Here we include comments from four prominent political scientists on how ANES has impacted their careers.

Edie Goldenberg, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan:

I used ANES data in several articles early in my career and relied on other findings based on ANES data for the book I wrote with Mike Traugott, Campaigning for Congress. I served on the Board for a while and enjoyed ANES founder Warren Miller’s retreats in Arizona during the cold Michigan winters. We always went out for authentic Mexican cuisine, which was terrific. I met a lot of colleagues through the ANES.

Donald Green, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University:

Scarcely a day goes by in which something I’m reading, debating, or studying is not in some way connected to ANES research.  My very first day in graduate school in 1983 featured a lecture by UC Berkeley Political Scientist Merrill Shanks on the insights gleaned from the four-wave 1980 ANES.  Today, decades later, I am about to run off to teach a class on political psychology, and our readings for this week include Philip Converse’s “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics” and Ansolabehere, Rodden, and Snyder’s 2008 American Political Science Review (APSR) article that uses ANES data to show Converse would have come to different conclusions had he used multi-item scales.

Michael Jones-Correa, Professor of Government at Cornell University:

Working with the ANES and the ANES team has been both beneficial for my research and a real learning experience— particularly being part of the ANES advisory board. The intense discussion among the Primary Investigators (PIs) and board during our meetings had the best aspects of sitting in on a seminar on survey design and methods. The ANES itself has inspired me to be part of other survey data collection efforts– notably the Latino National Survey (LNS, 2006), with co-PIs Luis Fraga, John Garcia, Rodney Hero, Val Martinez, and Gary Segura, and the Latino Immigration National Election Survey (LINES 2012-2013), with James McCann. Both of these drew on, learned from, and expanded the scope of the ANES.

Tasha Philpot, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas – Austin:

I’ve utilized the ANES in almost all of my publications. The most significant point in ANES history for me was when Daron Shaw and I were able to secure National Science Foundation  (NSF) funding for the African-American oversample in 2008, a historic election. Using the African-American oversample, we were able to explore the determinants of black turnout in the 2008 election.

W. Phillips Shively reflects on the storied history of the ANES

This is a guest post written by W. Phillips Shively, Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email (cps-center@umich.edu) or Twitter (@umisrcps).

First and foremost, I can’t really separate ANES, especially in its earliest and most exciting time, from Philip Converse, Donald Stokes, and Warren Miller. Though the large, ongoing dataset is seen as their legacy, it was actually a byproduct of their greatest contribution (after all, there were other large surveys being done at the time, but only theirs became institutionalized like ANES). Their real contribution was research that was breathtakingly creative and rigorous for its time. In the 1960s, when I was in graduate school, they were my gods; if he had ever had a poster, Phil Converse would have been on my dormitory room wall. They pioneered considering the interaction of data from different levels of social organization, analyzing the interplay of historical change and individual behaviors, and applying data analysis to democratic theory. The ANES data set came to be of such importance in the field because they demonstrated the beautiful things that could be done with it.

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Converse, Miller, and Campbell developing ANES predecessor the Michigan Election Studies

The high point of my graduate studies was a secondary analysis of the 1956 and 1960 national election studies, to test for various processes by which individuals were influenced in their voting by their community (i.e., an early and very primitive study of contextual effects.) This was pre-computer, so I did it all with IBM cards and a card sorter. It was the most exciting thing I did in graduate school, yet all I was doing was imitating Miller, Converse, and Stokes.

In more recent years, ANES made a huge contribution when Steven Rosenstone took the lead in setting up the ambitious Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), a cooperative study involving roughly fifty national election studies. He was able to build on years of cooperation between the ANES and international scholars, started especially by Stokes and Converse.

While the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) now serves a broad inter-disciplinary audience, it was initially a spin-off of the ANES. I attended the summer program in its second year, 1965. It consisted of a single class, co-taught by Stokes and Converse. Each day they opened some exciting new window for us. One day, Stokes introduced us to the problem of cross-level inference, which he had just started work on; I had never heard of it before, and it would become an important part of my work over the next fifty years. Another day they invited a young sociology graduate student, Gudmund Iversen, to come in and talk to us about an interesting new kind of statistics he had just learned of – Bayesian statistics.

Contradiction, Triangulation, and the ANES

This is a guest post written by David Redlawsk, Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

ANES65thThis post is part of a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email (cps-center@umich.edu) or Twitter (@umisrcps).

For me, the American National Election Studies (ANES) goes back to my undergraduate days at Duke in the late 1970’s. In my voting behavior class we read The American Voter and The Changing American Voter. I personally did NOT “like” the view of voters from the American Voter, the basic sense that voters were not really competent. So The Changing American Voter, which suggested that voters were more issue-oriented (and thus more competent to hold representatives accountable), appealed to me. Both books were based on ANES data, and I thought it was interesting that they came to different conclusions (of course the argument was that things had “changed” in the late 60’s leading to more issue-oriented voters).

As it turns out, of course, there is a strong critique of The Changing American Voter that comes because the ANES made major question wording and response option changes in 1964 versus prior studies. Bishop, Oldendick, and Tuchfarber (1978a; 1978b), Brunk (1978), and Sullivan et al. (1978) all addressed this issue. For me it made it clear that question design was critical to understanding public opinion.

While my own work has tended to be more experimental, my first journal publication after starting my Ph.D. and after trying other directions for a career, required the ANES in order for us to validate our experimental work. Had we not had the ANES data from which we could construct our Voting Correctly measure, our findings might have remained an interesting (maybe) lab result. Instead they became a core part of our research, both in our APSR paper Voting Correctly (Lau and Redlawsk, APSR 1997) and our book How Voters Decide (Lau and Redlawsk, 2006, Cambridge University Press), both of which have been received with some interest in the discipline.

As I transitioned to doing more survey research and directing the survey center at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, the basic things I learned about question design from the ANES have been important to my work. Overall, ANES has benefited my research and teaching.

ANES: An accurate history of American politics as seen through the eyes of voters, says Morris Fiorina

Post developed by Katie Brown and Morris P. Fiorina.

ANES65thThis post is the first in a series celebrating the 65th anniversary of the American National Election Studies (ANES). The posts will seek to highlight some of the many ways in which the ANES has benefited scholarship, the public, and the advancement of science. Do you have ideas for additional posts? Please contact us by email (cps-center@umich.edu) or Twitter (@umisrcps).

Ahead of the 2012 Presidential election, Morris P. Fiorina, who is the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.

In the article, Fiorina used American National Election Studies (ANES) data to consider the role of the personal qualities of candidates in election outcomes.  Fiorina referenced a research report published in the British Journal of Political Science (with Samuel Abrams and Jeremy Pope) after the 2000 presidential election in the United States. The report sought to explain Al Gore’s defeat in the election during a time of peace and prosperity. The report utilized a battery of questions from the ANES that asks respondents to detail what would make them vote for or against each candidate. The authors coded the respondents’ responses to measure candidates’ personal qualities.

What was the relationship between this rating of candidates’ personal qualities and election outcomes? Looking at thirteen elections from 1952 to 2000, Fiorina and his colleagues found that in four elections the electorate gave a noticeable edge to one of the candidates, but the outcomes were not what pundits would have expected. For example, the highest rated Democratic candidate was Jimmy Carter, who lost to the lowest rated Republican candidate, Ronald Reagan, in 1980.  And the lowest rated Democratic candidate was Bill Clinton, who won a landslide re-election in 1996.

In the op-ed, based on these findings, Fiorina challenged those citing Romney’s likability deficit relative to Obama as an unlikely cause of the election outcome. As Fiorina wrote, “If Romney loses, it will be because the public believes that Obama has done a good enough job to continue or that Romney has not advanced a credible recovery program. ‘Voters didn’t like my personality’ is a loser’s excuse.”

In subsequent media interviews, Fiorina emphasized how the ANES, funded by the American National Science Foundation (NSF), is far more than another database; it is a 60 year political history of electoral politics in the US.  As Fiorina commented, “ANES provides an accurate history of modern American politics, as seen through the eyes of voters at the time, not filtered through the lenses of academic historians or biased journalists.”

How do the American people feel about gun control?

Developed by Katie Brown in coordination with Darrell Donakowski.

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Source: Thinkstock

On September 16, 2013, a former reservist killed 12 people in a Washington, D.C. Navy Yard. This latest high profile mass American shooting prompted President Obama to urge another push for stronger gun control. Obama first marked the issue as a national priority after a gunman shot and killed 20 first graders and six educators in a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school in December 2013. Obama promised to do everything in his power to prevent another such tragedy. In a Newtown vigil, and referencing the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting of the previous summer that killed 12 and injured 70, Obama declared enough.

Obama’s post-Newtown proposals included tougher background checks to purchase arms and the ban of military-style assault weapons used in several high profile mass shooting. But the package stalled in Congress. After the Navy Yard shooting, Obama urged the electorate not to accept mass shootings as a new normal, instead to demand common sense gun laws.

How do the American people feel about gun control?

For 65 years, the American National Election Studies (ANES) have interviewed a representative sample of voting age Americans on a variety of topics, including but not limited to voting and turnout, public policy support, societal values, and demographics.  As ANES describes, the resulting data “inform the nation about itself.”  Data from the 2012 survey were released at the end of June 2013.

One question in particular from the ANES sheds light on national attitudes toward gun control. The question was asked in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, allowing us to trace responses over time. The graph below displays these trends (leaving out the small fractions who did not know or refused to answer).

Do you think the federal government should make it more difficult for people to buy a gun than it is now, make it easier for people to buy a gun, or keep these rules about the same as they are now?

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As we can see, the proportion of the public supporting tougher regulation is shrinking over the time period, while satisfaction with current regulations increased. Yet, support for tougher gun laws is the most popular choice in all included years. It is important to note that these data were collected before Aurora, Newtown, and the Navy Yard shootings. The 2016 ANES study will no doubt add more insight into this contentious, important issue.