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General Election Data for the United States, 1950-1990

Resource Type
Dataset : aggregate data
  • Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
Other Title
  • Version 2 (Subtitle)
Collective Title
  • United States Historical Election Returns Series
Publication Date
Free Keywords
congressional elections; election returns; elections; gubernatorial elections; historical data; political attitudes; political behavior; political parties; presidential elections; voting behavior
  • Abstract

    This data collection consists of national files containing county-level returns for elections to the offices of president, United States senator and representative, and governor. Also included are returns for one additional statewide office (usually attorney general or secretary of state) for those states that elected state offices in 1970 through 1990.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Standardized missing values.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: National, 1974
    • DS2: National, 1976
    • DS3: National, 1950-1972
    • DS4: National, 1974 and 1976
    • DS5: National, 1978
    • DS6: National, 1980
    • DS7: National, 1981
    • DS8: National, 1982
    • DS9: National, 1983
    • DS10: National, 1984
    • DS11: National, 1985
    • DS12: National, 1986
    • DS13: National, 1987
    • DS14: National, 1988
    • DS15: National, 1990
Temporal Coverage
  • 1950 / 1990
    Time period: 1950--1990
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Collection Mode
  • The variable labels in several of the datasets for this collection are not clearly defined. According to the codebooks for more recent years, the following general description may apply to similar variables in the data for earlier years: For example, the variable label V34="825 2 GOV 9001 VOTE" is interpreted as year of election/code for elected office/type of election/elected office/party code.

    County-level election returns for the years 1974-1990 for the offices of president, governor, United States senator and representative, plus one additional statewide office in each state, can be routinely supplied in two formats. They are available either as one physical file per state (the normal mode of storing and supplying returns for elections prior to 1974), or as a single national file for each year containing all counties in the United States and the votes cast for each party contesting elections anywhere in the nation. It is possible for ICPSR to perform, at the detailed instruction of scholars, operations such as converting vote counts to percentages and combining vote figures for various parties in the files for 1974-1990, which will facilitate national-level analysis of these returns. Potential users of the 1974-1990 files of election data are encouraged to contact the ICPSR User Support staff to formulate specific requests for electoral returns available in this format. Users should note that there are no data for the years 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1979, and that data for 1989 is forthcoming.

    The codebooks for later years in this collection, such as 1988 and 1990, contain variable descriptions that are not present in the codebooks for earlier years which may be helpful when reviewing the data.

2013-11-22 The SPSS setup files were updated to conform to current standards. SAS and Stata setup files, as well as SPSS and Stata system files, a SAS transport (CPORT) file, an R data file, a tab-delimited data file, and a PDF codebook have been added to the collection.
This study is freely available to ICPSR member institutions via web download.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 13 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is new version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR00013.v1
  • Bailey, Martha J., Duquette, Nicolas J.. How Johnson fought the war on poverty: The economics and politics of funding at the office of economic opportunity. Research Paper.11/22/2013, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. 2013.
  • Charles, Kerwin Kofi, Stephens, Melvin. Employment, wages, and voter turnout. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.5, (4), 111-143.2013.
    • ID: 10.1257/app.5.4.111 (DOI)
  • Kovandzic, Tomislav, Schaffer, Mark E., Kleck, Gary. Estimating the causal effect of gun prevalence on homicide rates: A local average treatment effect approach. Journal of Quantitative Criminology.29, (4), 477-541.2013.
    • ID: 10.1007/s10940-012-9185-7 (DOI)
  • Cumley, Samantha Renee. The Political Economy of Imprisonment: An Analysis of Local Areas in the United States. Dissertation, University of Iowa. 2012.
  • Hawley, G., Sagarzazu, I.. Where did the votes go? Reassessing American party realignments via vote transfers between major parties from 1860 to 2008. Electoral Studies.31, (4), 726-739.2012.
    • ID: 10.1016/j.electstud.2012.06.012 (DOI)
  • Healy, Andrew J., Malhotra, Neil. Preferring a Pound of Cure to an Ounce of Prevention: Retrospective Voting and Failures in Electoral Accountability. University of California-Los Angeles, . 2008.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Glaeser, Edward L., Ward, Bryce A.. Myths and realities of American political geography. Journal of Economic Perspectives.20, (2), 119-144.2006.
    • ID: 10.1257/jep.20.2.119 (DOI)
  • Redding, Kent, James, David R.. Estimating levels and modeling determinants of black and white voter turnout in the South, 1880 to 1912. Historical Methods.34, (4), 141-158.2001.
    • ID: 10.1080/01615440109598978 (DOI)
  • Ansolabehere, Stephen, Snyder, James M., Jr., Stewart, Charles, III. Old voters, new voters, and the personal vote: Using redistricting to measure the incumbency advantage. American Journal of Political Science.44, (1), 17-34.2000.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Gutmann, Myron P., Pullum, Sara M.. From local to national political cultures: Social capital and civic organization in the Great Plains. Journal of Interdisciplinary History.24, (4), 725-762.1999.
    • ID: 10.1162/002219599551877 (DOI)
  • Jones, Jeffrey M.. Does bringing out the candidate bring out the votes? The effects of nominee campaigning in presidential elections. American Politics Quarterly.26, (4), 395-419.1998.
    • ID: 10.1177/1532673X9802600401 (DOI)
  • Cox, Gary W., Katz, Jonathan N.. Why did the incumbency advantage in U.S. House elections grow?. American Journal of Political Science.40, (2), 478-497.1996.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Lengle, James I., Owen, Diana, Sonner, Molly W.. Divisive nominating mechanisms and democratic party electoral prospects. Journal of Politics.57, (2), 370-383.1995.
  • Lublin, David Ian. Quality, not quantity: Strategic politicians in U.S. Senate elections 1952-1990. Journal of Politics.56, (1), 228-241.1994.
  • Chappell, Henry W., Jr., Suzuki, Motoshi. Aggregate vote functions for the U.S. Presidency, Senate and House. Journal of Politics.55, (1), 207-217.1993.
  • Filer, John E., Kenny, Lawrence W., Morton, Rebecca B.. Redistribution, income, and voting. American Journal of Political Science.37, (1), 63-87.1993.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Kone, Susan L., Winters, Richard F.. Taxes and voting: Electoral retribution in the American States. Journal of Politics.55, (1), 22-40.1993.
  • Abramowitz, Alan I.. Incumbency, campaign spending, and the decline of competition in U.S. House elections. Journal of Politics.53, (1), 34-56.1991.
  • Austin, Erik W., Clubb, Jerome M., Granda, Peter A., Flanigan, William H., Zingale, Nancy. Electoral participation in the United States, 1968-1986. Legislative Studies Quarterly.16, (1), 145-164.1991.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Campbell, James E., Sumners, Joe A.. Presidential coattails in Senate elections. American Political Science Review.84, (2), 513-524.1990.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Frendreis, John P., Gibson, James L., Vertz, Laura L.. The electoral relevance of local party organizations. American Political Science Review.84, (1), 225-235.1990.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Shelley, Fred M., Archer, J. Clark. Sectionalism and presidential politics: Voting patterns in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Journal of Interdisciplinary History.20, (2), 227-255.1989.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Vertz, Laura L., Frendreis, John P., Gibson, James L.. Nationalization of the electorate in the United States. American Political Science Review.81, (3), 961-966.1987.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Ginsburg, Gerald. Computing antebellum turnout: Methods and models. Journal of Interdisciplinary History.16, (4), 579-611.1986.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Ferejohn, John A., Calvert, Randall L.. Presidential Coattails in Historical Perspective. American Journal of Political Science.28, (1), 127-146.1984.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Foster, Carroll B.. The performance of rational voter models in recent presidential elections. American Political Science Review.78, (3), 678-690.1984.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Garand, James C., Gross, Donald A.. Changes in the Vote Margins for Congressional Candidates: A Specification of Historical Trends. American Political Science Review.78, (1), 17-30.1984.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Gross, Donald A., Garand, James C.. The Vanishing Marginals, 1824-1980. Journal of Politics.46, (1), 224-237.1984.
  • Patterson, Samuel C., Caldeira, Gregory A.. Getting out the vote: Participation in gubernatorial elections. American Political Science Review.77, (3), 675-689.1983.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Gross, Donald A.. Units of analysis and Rae's fractionalization index. Comparative Political Studies.15, (1), 85-98.1982.
    • ID: 10.1177/0010414082015001004 (DOI)
  • Ladd, Everett Carll, Jr.. Where Have all the Voters Gone?: The Fracturing of America's Political Parties, 2nd Edition. New York: Norton. 1982.
  • Johannes, John R., McAdams, John C.. The congressional incumbency effect: Is it casework, policy compatibility, or something else? An examination of the 1978 election. American Journal of Political Science.25, (3), 512-542.1981.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Kleppner, Paul, Burnham, Walter Dean, Formisano, Ronald P., Hays, Samuel P., Jenson, Richard, Shade, William G.. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems. Westport, CT: Greenwood. 1981.
  • Clubb, Jerome M., Flanigan, William H., Zingale, Nancy H.. Partisan Realignment: Voters, Parties, and Government in American History. Sage Library of Social Research series, vol. 108.Beverly Hills: Sage. 1980.
  • Born, Richard. Generational replacement and the growth of incumbent reelection margins in the U.S. House. American Political Science Review.73, (3), 811-817.1979.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Kleppner, Paul. The Third Electoral System, 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. 1979.
  • Darcy, Robert E., Schramm, Sarah Slavin. When women run against men. Public Opinion Quarterly.41, (1), 1-12.1977.
    • ID: 10.1086/268347 (DOI)
  • Bloom, Howard S., Price, H. Douglas. Voter response to short-run economic conditions: The asymmetric effect of prosperity and recession. American Political Science Review.69, (4), 1240-1254.1975.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Markus, Gregory B.. Electoral Coalitions and Senate Roll Call Behavior: An Ecological Analysis. American Journal of Political Science.18, (3), 595-607.1974.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Tufte, Edward R.. The relationship between seats and votes in two-party systems. American Political Science Review.67, (2), 540-554.1973.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Erikson, Robert S.. Malapportionment, gerrymandering, and party fortunes in congressional elections. American Political Science Review.66, (4), 1234-1245.1972.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Kriner, Douglas, Shen, Francis. Limited War and American Civic Engagement. University of Chicago, . .
    • ID: (URL)

Update Metadata: 2016-01-13 | Issue Number: 7 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (1984): General Election Data for the United States, 1950-1990. Version 2. United States Historical Election Returns Series. Version: v2. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.