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Joint Study Linking General Social Survey and American National Election Studies Now Available to the Public

Press Release

Two of the largest and most influential datasets in the fields of sociology and political science can now be studied together, expanding the possibilities for innovative research.

ANN ARBOR and CHICAGO, April 15, 2022 — Data released today make combining the General Social Survey (GSS) and American National Election Studies (ANES) possible for the first time. The datasets, both collected in 2020 and 2021, can be used together to study Americans’ reported social views alongside political preferences and changes in society before and after the 2020 U.S. election. Social scientists will be able to investigate aspects of COVID-19 concerns, loneliness, police interactions with communities and ethnic groups, voting, and more.

“Linking the GSS data to the ANES opens up unprecedented opportunities for researchers. There are almost 1,200 cases that have information on three points over time: namely, information collected in either 2016 or 2018, information collected a few months before the 2020 presidential election, and information collected immediately after the election,” said René Bautista, director of the GSS and associate director in the Methodology & Quantitative Social Science department at NORC at the University of Chicago. “We are releasing this now because we needed a little bit of time after the GSS panel data was released to ensure we protected the confidentiality of our participants and for our researcher partners (ANES) to develop survey weights for analysis. With that completed, we are excited to make these data available to everybody interested in understanding and reflecting on the social challenges impacting our lives.”

The ANES-GSS 2020 Joint Study is a joint venture of the GSS and the ANES and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation. The original plan for the study was to conduct the GSS using traditional in-person survey methods that the GSS has employed since it began in 1972. GSS respondents would then participate in ANES pre-election and post-election surveys conducted on the web. However, the COVID-19 pandemic altered that plan significantly.

“To adapt to the pandemic, both the ANES and GSS suspended face-to-face interviews and moved data collections online,” said Matthew DeBell, director of Stanford Operations for the ANES and senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences. “The schedule for the GSS changed, so we were not able to conduct pre-election ANES interviews with GSS participants, but the GSS serves as a kind of pre-election wave, and the follow-up with the same survey participants in the ANES right after the 2020 election provides a trove of political variables for the GSS dataset, or a trove of sociological variables for the ANES dataset, depending on where you sit. It’s a cross-disciplinary smorgasbord.”

Since 1972, NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS) has been one of the nation’s most rigorous and widely used sources of data on what Americans think and feel about important national issues such as government spending priorities, crime and punishment, intergroup relations, and confidence in institutions. In addition to informing countless news articles, GSS data have been the basis of more than 32,500 books, scholarly papers, and PhD dissertations over its 50-year history. It is used by more than 400,000 students in their classes each year. The General Social Survey is a project of NORC with principal funding provided by the National Science Foundation.

The American National Election Studies are academically-run, nationally representative surveys of voters in the United States, conducted before and after every U.S. presidential election since 1948. The mission of the ANES is to inform explanations of election outcomes by providing data that support rich hypothesis testing, maximize methodological excellence, and promote comparisons across people, contexts, and time. The ANES serves this mission by providing researchers with a view of the political world through the eyes of American citizens. The primary funder of the ANES is the National Science Foundation.

“Linking the GSS data to the ANES opens up unprecedented opportunities for researchers.”

René Bautista


“Linking the GSS data to the ANES opens up unprecedented opportunities for researchers.”

About NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.

Contact: For more information, please contact Eric Young at NORC at or (703) 217-6814 (cell).

About the ANES

The ANES is a joint project of the University of Michigan and Stanford University, in association with Duke University and the University of Texas at Austin. For over 70 years, the ANES has conducted nationally representative surveys that serve as a barometer of American democracy and have been the basis for leading research in political science and allied disciplines.