About the Australian Candidate Study

The Australian Candidates Study (ACS) surveys are conducted in parallel with the surveys of voters and have been conducted at each federal election since 1987, with the exception of the 1998 election. All but the 1987 study have been funded by the Australian Research Council.

In 1987 all candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate were surveyed. Between 1990 and 2016 the surveys were restricted to all major party candidates, plus identifiable Greens and other environmental candidates. This restriction was designed to cut costs, since about half of the total number of candidates were minor party or independent candidates, almost all of whom lost their deposits. In 1993 the criteria were broadened to include non-major party candidates whom it was anticipated would obtain more than 10 per cent of the first preference vote.

In 2019 all candidates were contacted if they supplied a valid email address on their nomination papers.

The ACS methodology

The questionnaires are mailed to candidates about one week after the election. The mail-out/mail-back methodology is similar to that used for the voters’ survey, with the exception that a letter of introduction from the candidate’s political party is usually included. The questions are based on the voters’ survey, but an extensive range of additional questions are included about the candidate’s political background and experience, and about the election campaign itself.

In reporting results for the candidates as a whole, it is necessary to restrict the estimates to major party candidates so that the views of minor party candidates (who heavily outnumber major party candidates in our surveys) do not bias the results. In reporting party differences, results are shown for Liberal-National, ALP, Australian Democrat and Green candidates.

Candidate Study Sample Details, 1987-2019
The 1987 and 2016 elections were double dissolution elections for the Senate. Other elections are half-Senate.
The response rate is estimated as valid responses/total contacted.
Election Candidates Australian Candidate Study
House of RepresentativesSenateTotalTotalValid ResponsesEffective Response (%)
198761325586886861270.5
1990782223100563141065
1993943266120959341570
1996908255116367242763.5
20011039285132484047756.8
20041091330142199853553.6
20071054367142195247049.9
2010849349119854324745.5
20131188529171755619234.5
2016994631162559118230.8
20191,0564581,5141,27848237.7

The ACS studies

Note that the ACS Datasets are hosted by the Australian Data Archive Dataverse instance. Clicking on a Dataverse link will open the ACS Dataverse dataset in a new page.

1987

The Australian Candidate Study, 1987 was undertaken in conjunction with the Australian Election Survey, 1987, in order to provide a comparison between the attitudes of the candidates and of the electorate, and to obtain information on the candidates’ political background and the support for and obstacles to their candidacy, with a special emphasis on women candidates. 

1990

Candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate in the Federal election were surveyed, as in the Australian Candidate Study, 1987. In 1990, however, the survey was restricted to candidates for the major parties – Labor, Liberal, National and Australian Democrat – plus candidates standing on green and environmental platforms; other minor party candidates and independents were not included. 

1993

In 1993, candidates from the following political parties were surveyed – Labor, Liberal, National, Democrat, The Greens, The Greens (Western Australia) Inc, The Green Party of South Australia and the Green Alliance Senate-New South Wales. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, employee control of industry and Australia’s trading relationship with foreign countries. 

1996

In 1996, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Labor, Liberal, National, Democrat, and the Greens. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, and opinions on which are the most critical problems facing Australia. 

1998

No Australian Candidate Study was conducted in 1998.

2001

In 2001, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Labor, Liberal, National, Democrat, the Greens and One Nation. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, and opinions on what are considered to be the most critical problems facing Australia. 

2004

In 2004, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, Australian Democrats, Australian Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Family First Party and Citizens Electoral Council of Australia. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, and opinions on which are the most critical problems facing Australia. 

2007

In 2007, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, Australian Democrats, Australian Greens, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Family First Party and Citizens Electoral Council of Australia. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, and opinions on which are the most critical problems facing Australia. 

2010

In 2010, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, and Australian Greens. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, social issues and opinions on the most critical problems facing Australia. 

2013

In 2013, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, Liberal National Party (Queensland) and Australian Greens. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, social issues and opinions on the most critical problems facing Australia.

2016

In 2016, candidates from the following parties were surveyed – Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, Liberal National Party (Queensland) and Australian Greens. The study examined the prominent election issues, including attitudes to particular economic issues, social issues and opinions on the most critical problems facing Australia.

2019

In 2019 all candidates were contacted who had a valid email address. Many questions were replicated from the AES, as well as questions about prior political involvement, the election campaign and relations between the candidates and their respective parties.