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2020 Election Research Project

Man using phone posting a photo on social media sitting on couch at home.
Examining social media’s influence on voting in the U.S.
  • Client
  • Dates
    September 2020 - February 2021

The 2020 Election Research Project is a first-of-its-kind study that will provide vital information about the impact of social media on elections in the United States. Researchers at New York University, the University of Texas at Austin, and other academic institutions, as well as Facebook, will be able to understand more about how the information people see on Facebook and Instagram affects their opinions and behaviors. 

To collect the information for the study, Facebook partnered with NORC at the University of Chicago. The study was reviewed and approved by NORC’s Institutional Review Board. 

The project design was a longitudinal survey framework consisting of six survey waves of data collection between September 2020 and February 2021.

Study participants came from three sample sources:

  1. users of Facebook and Instagram (six survey waves)
  2. NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel® (five survey waves)
  3. an address-based sample (five waves), which provided a random cross-section of households sampled from the U.S. Postal Service Delivery Sequence File

In addition to administering surveys in a longitudinal framework, NORC also obtained consent and collected additional data from participants, including passive tracking of app usage on smartphones and in-browser websites visited on smartphones and computers, participants’ Facebook and/or Instagram log files, Twitter user data, and publicly available data files regarding voter behavior and campaign donations.

Our innovative data collection informed three articles in Science and one article in Nature, all published in July 2023.

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2020 Election Research Project

Examining social media’s influence on voting in the U.S.



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