Institute to study reasons for voter apathy

Why Americans vote—or don't—and how they select candidates in the 2008 U.S. presidential election will be analyzed by the American National Election Studies (ANES) with support from a $7.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

For the first time, Stanford's Institute for Research in the Social Studies will carry out the research in collaboration with the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. In 1952, the Michigan institute established ANES, which is regarded as the leading survey of U.S. voting behavior and election outcomes.

The grant, which covers research from 2005 to 2009, is more than double the amount previously awarded to the project, said Jon Krosnick, a communication and political science professor and Stanford's principal investigator of the surveys. Arthur Lupia, a political science professor at the University of Michigan and the project's other principal investigator, said the award will allow researchers to expand and improve their work.

"Stanford's participation will create a new sense of openness and collaboration around the project," Krosnick said. It also will improve the study's methodology by including input from Stanford survey experts and academics from other disciplines, he added.

The centerpiece of the study will be hour-long interviews with more than 2,000 people in their homes before and after the 2008 presidential election, Krosnick said. Participants will be asked questions on an array of political issues, including their assessment of the health of the nation, their hopes for future government action and their perceptions of political candidates and platforms.