About the Australian Election Study

The Australian Election Study aims to provide a long-term perspective on stability and change in the political attitudes and behaviour of the Australian electorate. The surveys investigate the changing social and attitudinal bases of Australian politics as the society changes. In addition to these long-term goals, the AES examines the political issues and personalities in each specific election and evaluates their importance in shaping the election result.

The AES routinely collects data among a nationally representative sample of voters and among major party candidates standing for election. Both the voter and candidate instruments combine a common set of questions. More details on the general methodology used are detailed in the relevant sections for the voter and candidate studies. Specific information about the methods used for a particular election are available from the downloadable documents for that election.

The studies have been running as a series of surveys beginning in 1987 that have been timed to coincide with Australian Federal elections. In addition, a survey was also conducted in conjunction with the 1999 Constitutional Referendum on the Republic. The series also builds on the Australian National Political Attitudes Surveys conducted in 1967, 1969 and 1979, providing a unique half-century long perspective on Australian political behaviour.

All of the datasets and the associated documentation are freely available for download and analysis through the Studies & Data page or the ‘Studies & Data’ menu items at the top.

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES)

The AES was a founding member of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) group, a collaborative program of cross-national research among election studies conducted in over fifty states. Established in 1996, the CSES has conducted five waves of data collection, with the fifth due to be completed in 2022. Australia has been part of all five waves.

The CSES is composed of three tightly linked parts: 
– a common module of public opinion survey questions included in each participant country’s post-election study, 
– district level data are reported for each respondent, including electoral returns, turnout, and the number of candidates, and 
– system or ‘macro’ level data report aggregate electoral returns, electoral rules and formulas, and regime characteristics.

This design allows researchers to conduct cross-level, as well as cross-national analyses, addressing the effects of electoral institutions on citizens’ attitudes and behavior, the presence and nature of social and political cleavages, and the evaluation of democratic institutions across different political regimes.

The Comparative Candidate Survey (CCS)

The AES was a founding member of the Comparative Candidate Survey, a joint multi-national project with the goal of collecting data on candidates running for national parliamentary elections in different countries using a common core questionnaire to allow for cross-country comparison. Data collection comprises surveys among candidates as well as relevant context information concerning the constituency of the candidate and the political system at large.

Partly as a result of recent changes in the functioning of political parties as intermediaries between citizens and the state, individual candidates – their activities, attitudes and beliefs – have become a most attractive and promising research object. To respond to this growing importance CCS surveys parliamentary candidates at national legislative elections in as many different countries as possible.

The CCS focuses on the relationships between the candidate, the party and the voters. Campaigning is a major topic in this core questionnaire, but other domains like recruitment and carrier patterns, issues and ideology, and democracy and representation are also included in the questionnaire. CCS is conducted in modules that are in the field about five years. Module I which was in the field between 2005 and 2013 was conducted in 35 elections. The current Module II will be in the field between 2013-2018.

The 2019 Australian Election Study Team

The AES has been run as a collaborative project between several universities, with its long-term home at the ANU. Ian McAllister founded the project in 1987 and has been involved with it ever since. Clive Bean has been a co-investigator since 2001. The 2016-19 team consists of Ian McAllister, Clive Bean, Rachel Gibson, Toni Makkai, Jill Sheppard and Sarah Cameron.

Ian McAllister is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at The Australian National University. He has previously held positions at the University of Strathclyde, the University of Manchester, and the University of New South Wales. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a corresponding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His scholarly research covers comparative political behaviour, postcommunist politics and Northern Ireland and Australian politics. His most recent books are The Australian Voter (University of New South Wales Press, 2011) and (co-author) Political Parties and Democratic Linkage (Oxford University Press, 2011). He was Chair of the Comparative Study of Electoral System project from 2004 to 2009 and is currently co-editor of the Oxford University Press series on the project. He was editor of the Australian Journal of Political Science from 2004 to 2010.

Clive Bean is Professor of Political Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Between 2000 and 2009 he was Head of the School of Humanities and Human Services/Humanities Program at QUT and prior to joining QUT, he was a research fellow in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. His research interests are in the field of political and social attitudes and behaviour, voting and elections. His work focuses principally on Australia, but also has a strong comparative dimension. He has published numerous articles in major international refereed journals and his research has been widely cited both nationally and internationally. Professor Bean and his colleagues have been awarded a number of Australian Research Council Discovery grants to conduct the Australian Election Study, the most recent being for the 2016 and 2019 federal elections.

Rachel Gibson is Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester. She completed her PhD at Texas A&M University. She is responsible for leading the social media aspect of the British election Study, iBES. She has held positions as Professor of New Media Studies at the University of Leicester, Senior Research Fellow in the ACSPRI Centre for Social Research at ANU, and Lecturer in politics at the University of Salford. Rachel has previously been the Principal Investigator of and the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes as well as projects dealing with the impact of new media on politics. She is the co-editor of the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties. Rachel’s interests include new media in politics and their use by political organisations and candidates, election campaigning and citizen’s online participation and she has recently completed an ESRC Professorial Fellowship examining the impact of digital technologies in comparative context.

Toni Makkai is Emeritus Professor in the Centre for Social Research and Methods. Prior to this she was the Dean and Director of the College of Arts and Social Sciences and Chair of the College Executive for eight years. Prior to joining the ANU in 2008 she was Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology from 2003-2008. She has also held various research and teaching roles at the University of Queensland and the University of Salford. She has a strong focus on policy relevant research including drugs and crime, crime statistics, drug courts, regulation and compliance, politics and immigrants and professional careers. She has published widely in these fields with over 50 peer reviewed journal articles, numerous chapters in books and government reports and monographs. Her most recent monograph is Regulating Aged Care: Ritualism and the New Pyramid (with John and Val Braithwaite) which was the culmination of a 25 year study of regulation and compliance in the aged care sector in Australia, the UK and the USA. She has held ARC, NH&MRC, and NDLERF grants during her career and is currently on the editorial board for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology and a board member of the Ted Noffs Foundation and the Survey Research Centre.

Jill Sheppard‘s research focuses on why people participate in politics, what opinions they hold and why, and how both are shaped by political institutions and systems. Her current projects include studies of ethnic political participation in Australia, opinion formation and electoral behaviour, compulsory voting and its effects on voters, internet use and political learning, and political socialisation in the workplace. Recent papers on participation and voting have been published in Australia and internationally. Methodologically, her interests focus on sampling and fielding population-based surveys, questionnaire design, and respondent recruitment and retention. From 2017, Jill is an investigator on Australia’s contribution to the Asian Barometer and World Values Survey projects, and an investigator on the Australian Election Study.

Sarah Cameron is a Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on comparative political behaviour and public opinion, elections, and Australian politics. She has contributed to the Australian Election Study since 2013, including as co-author of the Trends in Australian Political Opinion series. Cameron has been a Research Associate with other major comparative studies, including the Electoral Integrity Project and the Comparative Cross-National Electoral Research Project. Her recent publications include the edited volume Electoral Integrity in America (Oxford University Press, 2019), and articles in Political Science and Papers on Parliament. Cameron holds a PhD in Political Science and Master of Studies from the Australian National University. She has held a Visiting Fellowship in the Department of Government at Harvard University.