A UCLA-led group of racial and ethnic politics researchers from across the nation are already gearing up to make sense of the 2020 presidential election.

Buoyed by a recent nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the fourth installment of the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, known as the CMPS, will be the largest endeavor to date — encompassing 20,000 respondents from up to nine groups and conducted in five languages. 

The self-funded 2016 survey, was led by Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, associate professor of political science and African American Studies at UCLA, along with Matt Barreto, professor of political science and Chicana and Chicano studies at UCLA, Edward Vargas from Arizona State University and Janelle Wong from the University of Maryland, College Park. Previous smaller studies in 2008 and 2012 laid the groundwork for the ambitious reach of the 2016 survey. 

The cooperative approach to this survey of adult registered and non-registered voters allowed 86 social scientists and researchers from 55 institutions to help design a non-proprietary questionnaire that covered a broad swath of political attitudes and issues. The 2016 cooperative survey was self-funded, by academic researchers, through the purchase of question content by contributors.

Importantly, regardless of investment level, or specific research area, the CMPS is designed so that researchers involved gain access to and share the entire dataset. Multiple research projects from faculty, graduate students and postdocs from 18 disciplines yielded dozens of published studies in academic journals and books, as teams analyzed the 2016 findings. The CMPS team tracks all projects related to their data.

“We accomplished what we set out to do, which was radically expand opportunities, especially for those early in their career or who are working at smaller or minority-serving institutions, to conduct research and even more importantly — publish their research, which is necessary to advance one’s academic career,” Frasure-Yokley said. “And now, with stronger infrastructure provided by this major NSF grant, we can focus on expanding those opportunities even more.”

The call for participation goes out this month and Frasure-Yokley said their team anticipates welcoming about 150 collaborators. She’s eager to begin the process that will yield the survey questions, expecting that many will follow similar topics from the 2016 study, which included questions on military spending, DACA, health care, Black Lives Matter and more. Frasure-Yokley also expects that the tumultuous political environment of the last several years will engender new and creative ways to ask respondents how they feel about gender discrimination, race relations, immigration policies, election security, the media and more. The survey will be conducted following the 2020 election and remain in the field through early 2021.

The 2020 survey will also go deeper into issues of race and ethnicity by broadening the scope of survey respondents. In addition to surveying Blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites, the team has added a group of project directors with ties in specific communities for 1,000-person, “oversamples” of Muslim Americans, people of Native American, Native Hawaiian, Black African, and Black Caribbean descent as well as a group of LGBTQ respondents for the 2020 project.

“It is important to develop a survey instrument that replicates longstanding survey questions, while encouraging innovative new question content from researchers serving at various kinds of academic institutions and levels in their careers,” Frasure-Yokley said.

A pending grant also under review with the NSF, if funded, will expand professional-development efforts by creating the CMPS Scholars Network, which would encompass survey development working groups, summer workshops and planning meetings and an online research support space for CMPS data users. 

“We’re really focused on positively changing the social science discipline,” Frasure-Yokley said. “And not just when it comes to how we collect survey data with large samples of racial and ethnic groups, but in how we bring a diversity of scholars together to collaborate, grow their research and advance their careers.”