I respect the hard work it takes to create the ANES. So my criticism here is mild, because I suspect they're wrestling with various difficulties. But it's 2010 and we're still waiting for a final release of the 2008 election data.
Let's do some history. An advanced version of the 2004 ANES data were available on Jan. 25, 2005, and the next release was April 19, 2005. That's fast. The advanced version of the 2008 ANES data were available on March 5, 2009 and there is a May version listed, but it's not the full data. We've yet to see a final release of the 2008 data and, yes, it is 2010.
There are coding issues with open-ended variables. There is the 2008-2009 panel data to contend with. Between these two, I assume that's the holdup (though there have been no explanations on the web site, unless I'm missing something). I didn't attend an AAPOR meeting where they were going to discuss the study but I was told by a staffer via email almost a year ago that they would put the presentation materials online so those of us without huge travel budgets could find a clue as to what's happening. Still nothing up.
Why does this matter?
It doesn't, not for most folks unless you happen to be a data analysis dweeb like me. I'm buried in a study right now and wouldn't have much time to play with the ANES data (though I do have one thing I'd like to explore and can only do so with the open-ended data included). And the people who do this work at the National Election Studies are terrific, so I don't want to make this sound whiny, but updates -- a little transparency -- would be helpful.