U.S. Survey Research

American Trends Panel

The American Trends Panel (ATP), created by Pew Research Center, is a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults living in households. Respondents who self-identify as internet users (representing 89% of U.S. adults) participate in the panel via monthly self-administered web surveys, and those who do not use the internet participate via telephone or mail. The panel is being managed by Abt SRBI.

All current members of the American Trends Panel were originally recruited from the 2014 political polarization and typology survey, a large (n=10,013) national landline and cellphone random digit dial (RDD) survey conducted Jan. 23 to March 16, 2014, in English and Spanish. At the end of that survey, respondents were invited to join the panel. The invitation was extended to all respondents who use the internet (from any location) and a random subsample of respondents who do not use the internet.

Of the 10,013 adults interviewed, 9,809 were invited to take part in the panel. A total of 5,338 agreed to participate and provided either a mailing address or an email address to which a welcome packet, a monetary incentive and future survey invitations could be sent. Panelists also receive a small monetary incentive after participating in each wave of the survey.

Eight waves of interviews were conducted with the panel during 2014, with 4,265 panelists taking part in at least one survey. The average sample size for a wave during 2014 was about 3,200. Response rates across the waves varied within a relatively narrow range. Across the first six waves, between 60% and 65% of web-enabled panelists took part in each wave, and between 60% and 70% of the non-web group did so (by phone or by mail). After panelists who had never participated were purged, web response rates for the last two surveys were somewhat higher. Taking account of the response rate for the 2014 survey of political polarization from which the panelists were recruited (10.6%) the agreement rate to join the panel (54.4%) and the response rate to a given wave, the cumulative response rate for a typical wave is about 3.5%.

The ATP data were weighted in a multi-step process that begins with a base weight incorporating the respondents’ original survey selection probability and the fact that some panelists were subsampled for invitation to the panel. Next, an adjustment was made for the fact that the propensity to join the panel varied across different groups in the sample. The final step in the weighting uses an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin, telephone service, population density and region to parameters from the National Health Interview Survey, the 2010 decennial census and the 2012 American Community Survey. It also adjusts for party affiliation using an average of the three most recent Pew Research Center general public telephone surveys, and for internet use using as a parameter a measure from the 2014 political polarization survey. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting. The Hispanic sample in the American Trends Panel is predominantly native born and English speaking. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

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