About Voter Studies
The AES routinely collects data among a nationally representative sample of voters and among major party candidates standing for election (the latter is the Australian Candidate Study - ACS). Both the voter and candidate instruments combine a common set of questions. More details on the general methodology used are detailed below, and specific information about the methods used for a particular year is available from the information page for that wave.
The 1987 survey was funded by a consortium of universities and the 2007 survey by the ANU; all of the subsequent surveys have been funded by the Australian Research Council and its predecessors. Each of the eleven surveys conducted since 1987 has had a core theme:
- 1987 The economy
- 1990 The environment and environmentalism
- 1993 Political culture
- 1996 National identity and citizenship
- 1998 Constitution, rights and minorities
- 1999 Constitutional referendum
- 2001 Challenges to governance
- 2004 The decline of political parties
- 2007 Democracy and representation
- 2010 The dynamics of political choice
- 2013 Volatility and electoral change
- 2016-19 Political engagement among the young
The AES methodology
All of the AES studies are national, post-election self-completion surveys with the sample drawn randomly from the electoral register. Since 2010 the surveys have also included an online completion option. The 1993 AES over-sampled in some of the smaller states and because of this the sample was weighted down to represent the national population.
The sample is drawn by the Australian Electoral Commission after the close of rolls for the election in question. The envelopes contain an individually addressed and signed letter explaining the purposes of the study and a guarantee of confidentiality, the questionnaire, and a return postage-paid envelope. One week later all respondents are mailed a thank you/reminder postcard; this postcard has a considerable impact on the response rate. Several follow-ups are usually conducted. In 2016 the sample was divided between one based on the electoral roll, as in past surveys, and one based on the Geo-Coded National Address File (G-NAF).
The 2016-19 study will also involve a panel component, with a sample of the 2016 respondents being re-interviewed in 2019. This will be the first panel survey concerned with political behaviour conducted in Australia since the 1967-69 Australian National Political Attitudes Surveys.
|Australian Election Study Sample Details, 1987-2016|
|Total Sample||Valid responses||Effective response (%)|
|The response rate is estimated as: valid responses/(total sample−moved or gone away). The 2010 response rate is the figure for the initial self-completion sample.|