Religion and Politics Survey, 1996

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > General Population > National > Pew Research Center > Summary


This survey, commissioned by The Pew Center for the People and the Press, focuses exclusively on religion and politics in America. The national survey was completed by the Princeton Survey Research Associates between May 31 and June 9, 1996.

Data File
Cases: 1,975
Variables: 152
Weight Variable:
The June 25, 1996, news release "The Diminishing Divide . . . American Churches, American Politics" offers the following description of the procedures used to compute the weight variable.

"The demographic weighting parameters are derived from a special analysis of the most recently available Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (March 1992). This analysis produced population parameters for the demographic characteristics of household with adults 18 or older, which are then compared with the sample characteristics to construct sample weights. The analysis only included households in the continental United States that contain a telephone.


The weights are derived using an iterative technique that simultaneously balances the distributions of all weighting parameters. After an optimum sample balancing solution is reached, the weights were constrained to fall within the range of 1 to 5. This constraint is useful to ensure that individual respondents do not exert an inordinate effect on the survey's overall results" (p. 58).
Data Collection
Date Collected: May 31 - June 9, 1996
Collection Procedures
Interviewing was conducted by phone nationwide among 1,975 adults, 18 years of age or older, under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates.
Sampling Procedures
The June 25, 1996, news release "The Diminishing Divide . . . American Churches, American Politics" offers the following description of the sampling procedures for conducting the survey.

"The sample for this survey is a random-digit sample of telephone numbers selected from telephone exchanges in the continental United States. The random-digit aspect of the sample is used to avoid "listing" bias and provides representation of both listed and unlisted numbers (including not-yet-listed). The design of the sample ensures this representation by random generation of the last two digits of telephone numbers selected on the basis of their area code, telephone exchange and bank number.

The telephone exchanges were selected with probabilities proportional to their size. The first eight digits of the sampled telephone numbers (area code, telephone exchange, bank number) were selected to be proportionally stratified by county and by telephone exchange within county. That is, the number of telephone numbers randomly sampled from within a given county is proportional to the county's share of telephone households in the United States. Estimates of the number of telephone households within each county are derived from 1990 Census data on residential telephone incidence that have been updated with state-level information on new telephone installations and county-level projections of the number of households. Only working banks of telephone numbers are selected. A working bank is defined as 100 contiguous telephone numbers containing three or more residential listings.

The sample was released for interviewing in replicates. Using replicates to control the release of sample to the field ensures that the complete call procedures are followed for the entire sample.

At least eight attempts were made to complete an interview at every sampled telephone number. The calls were staggered over times of day and days of the week to maximize the chances of making contact with a potential respondent. All interview breakoffs and refusals were re-contacted at least once in order to attempt to convert them to completed interviews. In each contacted household, interviewers asked to speak with the "youngest male 18 or older who is at home." If there was no eligible man at home, interviewers asked to speak with the "oldest woman 18 or older who lives in the household." This systematic respondent selection technique has been shown empirically to produce samples that closely mirror the population in terms of age and gender.

Non-response in telephone interview surveys produces some known biases in survey-derived estimates because participation tends to vary for different subgroups of the population, and these subgroups are likely to vary also on questions of substantive interest. In order to compensate for these known biases, the sample data are weighted in analysis" (p. 57).
Principal Investigators
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; Andrew Kohut, Director; Kimberly Parker, Research Director; Margaret Petrella and Claudia Deane, Survey Analysts.
Related Publications
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. (1996). The Diminishing Divide American Churches, American Politics.

This publication was widely reported in the print news media: The New York Times (June 25, 1996; July 12, 1996 and August 4, 1996); The Washington Post (June 25, 1996 and October 20, 1996); The Wall Street Journal (August 7, 1996); The Christian Science Monitor (August 23, 1996); Los Angeles Times (June 25, 1996, July 1, 1996; July 27, 1996; August 22, 1996 and November 16, 1996); U.S. News and World Report (July 8, 1996); National Journal (August 10, 1996); Evangelization Update (November/December 1996); and Minority Markets Alert (August, 1996).