Overview

The National Politics Study (NPS) is an ambitious project undertaken by the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA) and the Center for Political Studies (CPS) at the University of Michigan 's Institute for Social Research, in cooperation with DataStat Inc., a survey research organization in Ann Arbor , Michigan . The NPS was developed under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation, the University of Michigan , and the Carnegie Corporation.

The primary goal of NPS is to gather comparative data about individuals' political attitudes, beliefs, aspirations, and behaviors at the beginning of the 21 st century. PRBA and CPS hope that the information gathered will advance the study and knowledge of racial and ethnic involvement in politics. This new study has important implications for understanding the nature of political concerns in the U.S. ; policy, party, and candidate choices; and political participation in the American democratic process.

From September 2004 to February 2005, a total of 3,339 telephone interviews were conducted throughout the United States with persons aged 18 or older (756 African Americans, 919 non-Hispanic whites, 404 Caribbean Blacks, 757 Hispanics and 503 Asian Americans). The survey included questions about voting preferences, party affiliation, organizational membership, immigration, racial consciousness, acculturation, and views of government policies.

Background

NPS builds upon work recently completed in PRBA's face-to-face National Survey of American Life (NSAL) and the National Latino and Asian American Survey (NLAAS). The NSAL is an integrated national household probability sample of 3,570 African Americans, 1,623 Caribbean Blacks, and 891 non-Hispanic whites ages 18 and older. The NLAAS completed 4,864 interviews with nationally representative samples of adults 18 and older from four Latino groups (Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other adults of Latino descent—e.g., Dominican, Panamanian); four Asian groups (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and other adults of Asian descent—e.g., South Asians, Japanese), and a control group of non-Hispanic and non-Asian whites. NPS also builds upon methodologies used successfully in the 1984 and 1988 National Black Election Panel Studies, the 1993-1994 National Black Politics Study, the 2000-2001 National Asian American Political Survey, and the 1989-1990 Latino National Political Survey. NPS, to our knowledge, is the first nationally representative, explicitly comparative, simultaneous study of all these ethnic and racial groups.

Significance

Immigration and differential birth rates are producing major changes in the ethnic and racial composition of the population and, eventually, of the American electorate. Over the next several decades, individuals from Asian American, Caribbean , Hispanic, and African American groups will constitute an increasingly substantial share of the population until mid-century, at which point non-Hispanic whites are projected to comprise a numerical minority of the national population. These groups differ greatly in the nature of ethnic and racial identity, political consciousness, and attachment to American ideological and political institutions.

The development of conceptual and empirical models that are ethnic group appropriate will make a major contribution not only to the NPS data collection, but also to future local, regional, and national studies on similar topics within and between these complex, heterogeneous ethnic and racial groups. The data will permit scholars across the world to explore within and between group differences, thereby increasing our knowledge about how identity, consciousness, ideological beliefs, socio-demographic, and social and economic status factors influence the political lives of people who differ in ethnic and racial background, immigration and citizenship status, and geographic dispersion, advancing the understanding of the ways in which important aspects of group, self, and social development relate to political behavior in adulthood.

Project Investigators

PRBA is a center of scholarship and research devoted to the collection, analysis, and interpretation of comparative ethnic and racial empirical data on peoples of diverse backgrounds and ancestries. PRBA is respected both nationally and internationally for its groundbreaking research techniques and its training programs to increase the numbers of ethnically diverse social scientists.

CPS is an interdisciplinary and collaborative social science research unit of international scope, which seeks to understand, measure, analyze and model individual behavior and the role of institutions within the context of contemporary society's social, political, and economic processes. CPS facilitates, supports, and promotes a broad range of research.

Project investigators for the NPS include:

James S. Jackson , Ph.D. , University of Michigan

Ronald Brown , Ph.D. , Wayne State University

Vincent Hutchings , Ph.D. , University of Michigan

Cara Wong , Ph.D. , University of Michigan