By the Numbers: Election Data

Pamela Campbell, Katrina Stierholz


Election-related information covers a broad range of topics—voter registration, voter turnout, opinion polls, election results, and campaign finance data—spanning national, state, and local levels. Who collects and provides all the data related to an election? Interestingly, many sources of election statistics are available online through private institutions (e.g., universities, research institutions) rather than government sources. This applies to both recent information and historical information.

This article focuses on just a few of the many resources for election data. Three sources are briefly examined, followed by an in-depth look at one source: the American National Election Studies (ANES). These sources cover a broad range of subject matter and delivery methods. The Library of Congress offers other resources at its election statistics Web Guide (

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Federal Election Commission, “About the FEC,” access August 8, 2016,

Federal Election Commission, “Combined Federal/State Disclosure and Election Directory 2016,” accessed August 8, 2016,

The American Presidency Project, hosted at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been a collaboration between John T. Woolley (UCSB) and Gerhard Peters (Citrus College). The American Presidency Project, accessed August 8, 2016,

Wendy Underhill, “Elections-Related Legislation Databases,” March 23, 2015,

National Conference of State Legislatures, “Ballot Measures Database,” accessed August 8, 2016,

American National Election Studies, “ANES Time-Series: Sample and Mode by Wave,” August 29, 2016,

John H. Aldrich and Kathleen M. McGraw, “Introduction to the Volume,” in Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies, edited by John H. Aldrich and Kathleen M. McGraw (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 4–8.



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