Abstract

Can researchers draw consistent inferences about the U.S. public's issue attitudes when studying survey results from both the in-person and telephone interview modes of the 2000 National Election Studies (NES) survey? We address this question through an analysis contrasting the distribution of issue attitudes across modes in the dual sample design of the 2000 NES. We find clear differences across mode even when applying a method devised by the NES to improve comparability by recoding issue attitude scales from the in-person mode. We present an alternative method of recoding these scales, which substantially improves comparability between modes. Through an analysis of the covariance structure of the issues and simple models of vote choice, we discuss the implications of the results for the study of issue attitudes in the 2000 NES.

Authors' note: Authors are listed in alphabetical order. We thank George Rabinowitz for guidance on this project during various stages of development, Bill Jacoby for comments on a previous draft, and three anonymous reviewers for their comments. Data for this analysis are from Burns et al. (2001). These materials are based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers SBR-9707741, SBR-9317631, SES-9209410, SES-9009379, SES-8808361, SES-8341310, SES-8207580, and SOC77-08885; the Russell Sage Foundation under grant number 82-00-01; and the University of Michigan. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the funding agencies.