Veteran journalist to run Annenberg voter survey


The Annenberg Public Policy Center is poised to begin their second National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES), a rolling-cross sectional survey of the American electorate, on November 1.

In the groundbreaking 2000 NAES, the most comprehensive academic survey to date on American political attitudes and behavior, researchers conducted more than 100,000 interviews, asking Americans about their political knowledge, media use and opinions about the candidates and issues.

Adam Clymer, former chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, has joined the effort as both a Public Policy Center visiting scholar and Washington director for NAES04.

Clymer was responsible for directing and interpreting polls for the Times from 1983 to 1990. “He has been a long-time participant in the academic dialogue,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the center and leader of the NAES team. “He is the ideal person to ensure that our scholars ask the right questions. His talents as a communicator will ensure that NAES’s results are carefully and intelligently translated to journalists and the public.”

The first fruits of Clymer’s contribution can be found in a study released earlier this month by NAES04 that looks at the highly sought-after Hispanic vote (press release available at www.appcpenn.org). This new poll highlights the political differences and similarities among Hispanics of various heritages particularly on economic and social issues.

The National Annenberg Election Survey of the 2000 election was the first to capture the public’s day-to-day reactions to political events including not only the presidential election but also the additional 36 days as legal questions about the Florida vote moved through the courts. “Scholars need to understand the dynamics of an election,” said Jamieson, “and NAES lets us see that.”

Daily telephone interviews with 50 to 300 people in 2000 let students of the political process chart the effect of specific events—the party conventions, the candidate debates—and specific issues as well as media coverage on the ebb and flow of voter opinion.

Two books, “The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists and the Stories That Shape the Political World” by Jamieson and Paul Waldman, written for a general audience, and “Capturing Campaign Dynamics,” a scholarly dissection of NAES 2000 data, have been published. Both illustrate that this new research methodology is a powerful tool for understanding the interaction of communications and politics.

Throughout the coming election cycle, NAES04 will be issuing periodic reports based on the survey data. The first will analyze the front-loaded 2004 primary season.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center was established in 1994 with an endowment of $20 million from Walter Annenberg Hon’66. Jamieson, who was then dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, was named as the first director. Scholars at the center’s two locations, in Washington, D.C. and at Penn, examine the role of communications issues at the local, state and national level.

An additional gift from Annenberg facilitated the renovation last year of the Annenberg School building to create offices and a seminar room for the Public Policy Center. Although Jamieson stepped down as dean last spring, she remains director of the Public Policy Center.

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Originally published on October 2, 2003