Monday, February 2, 2009

More on New Data

I've just started digging into the 2008-2009 panel data released over the weekend by the ANES and the political knowledge questions look quite useful. All ANES data can be found here.

Best I can tell there are six waves of data collection, but not every wave has questions tapping respondent political knowledge. But many do. The second and sixth waves, for example, include basic questions asking people how many times a person can be elected U.S. president, how many years in a full time U.S. Senate seat, and so on. Textbook civics stuff, the kind that gives you a sense of how much a respondent understands about the workings of government.

And then there are some candidate-specific questions in the fourth and sixth waves, asking the state and religion of the two major party prez candidates, plus one each on where they worked before going into politics. Interesting.

But best of all is a set of policy questions asking where Barack Obama and John McCain stood. These offer some campaign-specific ways to test respondent knowledge. Very useful.

The great thing about panel data, of course, is they provide various answers by the same people over time so you can judge change. Using these data is tricky. There are mutiple weights that have to be applied and you have to be careful in your statistical tests, but they provide the kind of power a single snapshop can never give you. I'll be playing with these data for the rest of the semester. Got a JMCQ article already in mind.

Tomorrow, a look at the media variables in the data set.

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