5+ Free Political Data Sources You Need to Use

Political data is the facts and statistics that campaigns, advocacy groups, and other organizations rely on to achieve their goals and/or promote their cause. There is an enormous amount of useful information available—but you need to know where to find it and how to use it.

At Aristotle, we provide the most accurate and comprehensive political data services to electoral campaigns, PACs, political advocacy groups and other organizations. Our team has put together a comprehensive guide to the best free sources of political data.

An Overview of Free Political Data Sources

 1. The United States Census

Conducted every ten years, the United States Census is the most comprehensive survey of the American population. The most recent census was completed in 2020 (2020 Census Results). Census data is important: It has a direct effect on the determination of political representation and the allocations of federal resources. Census data can serve as the foundation of a campaign or political advocacy group’s data operation. Among other things, the U.S. Census includes data about:

  • Population
  • Housing status
  • Age
  • Disability status
  • Educational attainment
  • Employment
  • Language, and
  • Race/ethnicity.

2. American National Election Studies (ANES)

The American National Election Studies (ANES) is a collaborative project from research at the University of Michigan and Stanford University. It is widely considered to be one of the most useful free sources of political data. ANES publishes its findings to help inform social scientists, educators, teachers, policy makers, and other interested parties. The ANES database is made up of the results of academically-managed surveys of voters and potential voters. ANES surveys tend to ask respondents three different types of questions:

  • Demographic Questions: ANES surveys ask respondents about a wide range of demographic information, such as state of residence, age, sex, race, and party affiliation.
  • Opinions of Subjective Questions: Respondents are also asked for their views on subjective matters, such as favorability of politicians, voting intention, views on general policy goals, and support or opposition for specific legislation.
  • Beliefs on Objective Question: Finally, the ANES survey will also ask respondents some questions with objective, known answers. For example, a survey may ask voters whether they believe that the unemployment rate has gone up or down over the past year. 

3. Dataverse (Harvard)

 Owned and maintained by Harvard University, Dataverse is a reliable and effective source of free political data. In effect, Dataverse is a no cost, open source data repository designed for academic researchers, policy makers, and other parties. People and organizations both inside and outside of the wider Havard community can use Dataverse to share, cite, access, and explore a wide range of different data, including political data.

 4. U.S. Polling and Public Opinion Surveys

 A lot of the most useful and timely free political data comes from public polling firms. A number of different independent organizations conduct and publish the results of scientific surveys free for public view. Some of the best free political data from polling firms and related organizations include:

  • Gallup: Gallup is a Washington, DC based analytics and advisory company. It regularly publishes free polling information for public use. Gallup conducts polls about electoral races and general public policy matters.
  • Pew Research Center: A Washington, DC based think tank, the Pew Research Center is another leader in free public polling. The Pew Research Center public survey results on a wide variety of different political topics.
  • FiveThirtyEight: While not itself a polling organization, com is one of the best sources for free political data. It aggregates and analyzes political survey results to provide a better view to the public.

5. Legislative Data

Legislative information can provide a useful source of qualitative and quantitative political data. There are several highly-regarded legislative data sources available that are free to use. Some of the best free political data sources for legislative information include the following:

  • Ballotpedia: org is a nonpartisan, independent web-based encyclopedia that contains a wide range of different information about candidates, campaigns, election results, and legislative efforts.
  • ProQuest Congressional: ProQuest Congressional is another very useful source of free legislative political data. One thing that separates ProQuest Congressional is the extent of its historical political information. It has one of the largest, most comprehensive libraries of congressional documents dating back to the late 18th century.
  • CQ Congress Collection: CQ Congress Collection is a data research tool that can be used to access and evaluate information regarding congress people, congressional voting records, and the legislative process in general.

6. Federal and State Donor Contribution Databases

Electoral campaigns, political policy groups, and grassroots organizations need funding to keep the lights on. Donations are an important aspect of politics. To achieve their goals and make the greatest possible impact, anyone involved in politics needs to be able to raise money in an efficient and effective manner. Study after study has shown the same thing: Prior donor behavior is by far the best predictor of future donation potential.

Political data can help campaigns and advocacy groups know who to ask and what to ask for. There are free resources available that can be quite useful. As an example, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) maintains an Individual Contribution Database through which you can look up records regarding recent contributions to federal elections. Most states have free databases in place for contributions to state and local elections.

Be aware, you can’t use FEC data for fundraising; however, Aristotle has the most comprehensive database of state-level contributions in the political marketplace. Donor Insight allows you to gain access to actionable donor data and gain insight into your donor base.

The Most Trusted Provider of Political Data

At Aristotle, we are proud to be the leaders in political data. With a focus on quality and accuracy, our team works with many of the largest campaigns and political advocacy groups in the country and around the world. The free sources of political data are a great place to get started. Our award-winning National Voter File, National Consumer File, and National Donor File can truly take your campaign or advocacy organization’s data operation to the next level. Give us a call now or send us a direct message to learn more about our political data services.

 


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