Political Datasets

The following archives, datasets, and research projects represent a small sample of the publicly available information sources germane to the study of politics. In my experience teaching research methods, however, these are the most popular and useful. I'm continually updating this page, so if you find a broken link or another useful source please let me know.


You can use the ICPSR database to search more than a half million social science data collections. Think of it as the Google for political science data.

International Relations

The Correlates Of War
The Correlates of War Project contains original data on the incidence of war in the post-Napoleonic era. The data also contained information on the factors that might explain variation in the occurrence and duration of wars (national capability, alliances, geography, polarity, and status).

The International Crisis Behavior Project
The International Crisis Behavior Project examines the sources, processes, and outcomes of all military-security crises since the end of World War I. The methods used to collect the data are both qualitative and quantitative: in-depth studies of perceptions and decisions by a single state and studies in breadth of the 434 crises that plagued the international system from the end of World War I to 2001, involving the participation of 956 individual states as crisis actors.

Polity IV Data
The Polity IV Project dataset contains information on the characteristics of states in the world system for purposes of comparative, quantitative analysis. The Polity conceptual scheme is unique in that it examines "concomitant qualities of democratic and autocratic authority" in governing institutions, rather than discreet and mutually exclusive forms of governance. This perspective envisions a spectrum of governing authority that spans from fully institutionalized autocracies through mixed, or incoherent, authority regimes (termed "anocracies") to fully institutionalized democracies. The "Polity Score" captures this regime authority spectrum on a 21-point scale ranging from -10 (hereditary monarchy) to +10 (consolidated democracy).

Militarized Interstate Disputes Data
This dataset is related to the Correlates of War dataset. The Militarized Interstate Disputes dataset covers the years 1816-1992 and provides information about conflicts in which one or more states threaten or use force against one or more other states.

The First Use of Force Dataset
The First Use of Force Dataset contains information on which country or countries in the militarized interstate disputes were the first to use force.

Comparitive Politics

The Quality of Government Institute
The QoG Institute conducts and promotes research on the causes, consequences and nature of good governance and Quality of Government- that is, trustworthy, reliable, impartial, uncorrupted and competent government institutions. The data include - but are not limited to - government corruption, bureaucratic quality, the level of democracy, electoral rules, forms of government, social divisions, economic development, domestic peace, and gender equality.

The [Insert Region Here] Barometer
These datasets are primarily used to study political behavior. Using large-n, national surveys of individuals, these datasets record information on social, economic, and political attitudes (ideology, support for the government, etc.), political behaviors (protests, voting, etc.), and social and economic conditions (income, age, gender, race, etc.). The data can be used to study a single nation or to compare nations and regions.

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems
The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) includes public opinion and macro-level data of electoral behavior and election results in over fifty nations. At the micro-level the data include vote choice, party evaluations, economic conditions. At the macro-level the data include, turnout, the number of candidates running for election, electoral rules, and regime characteristics.

The World Bank
The World Bank maintains numerous datasets containing a wealth of information. The datasets include information on world development, global financial data, landmine casualties, socio-economic data (education, gender, health, labor force, etc.) and foreign aid flows.

Freedom House
Freedom House maintains data on freedom of the world's inhabitants, freedom of the press, freedom of the internet, and other data.

The Luxembourg Income Study
The Luxembourg Income Study Database is the largest available income database collected from multiple countries over a period of decades. The datasets contain variables on market income, public transfers and taxes, household- and person-level characteristics, labor market outcomes, and, in some datasets, expenditures.

Global Integrity Report
The Global Integrity Report is a tool for understanding governance and anti-corruption mechanisms at the national level. The data includes issues such as transparency, media freedom, asset disclosure requirements and conflicts of interest regulation.

PARLINE Database on National Parliaments
This database contains information on the institutional structure and working methods of 266 parliamentary chambers in all of the 189 countries where a national legislature exists.

Gapminder is a little hard to describe. They tout themselves as a "fact based" organization, which is to say they have a wide variety of datasets and accumulated information. However, much of their data is relevant to world development.

Comparative Welfare Entitlements Dataset
The Comparative Welfare Entitlements Dataset provides data on social insurance programs in eighteen countries spanning much of the post-war period. Its purpose is to provide an essential complement to program spending data that is available from international sources like the OECDs Social Expenditure Database.

The World Values Survey
The World Values Survey provides data on values and cultural changes in societies all over the world.

American Politics

American National Election Studies
The ANES conducts large-n, national surveys on voting, public opinion, and political participation in the United States. The ANES has conducted a pre-election and post-election survey every presidential election year since 1948. It is a fantastic resource if you are interested in U.S. opinion and voting behavior.

The General Social Survey
The GSS is a large-n, national survey of social issues begun in 1972. It is the largest source of information in the social science outside the U.S. Census. Though the GSS is primarily a source of sociological information-social change, attitudinal questions, demographic characteristics, etc. - the survey contains a rage of important political data and questions - including a variety of public opinion questions on issues like gay marriage, immigration, civil liberties, etc.

The Policy Agendas Project
The Policy Agendas Project provides data on policy change, and related information, in the United States since the 1940s. A wide variety of content-ranging from presidential State of the Union speeches, Congressional roll-call votes and Supreme Court cases, to the Federal Government's budget - is catalogued according to its policy relevance.

Charles Stewart's Congressional Data Page
Charles Stewart, a political scientist at MIT, maintains a data page that links to a variety of publically available Congressional datasets. The most wide-ranging collection is his personal data on Congressional committees (in particular, he has an accounting of the every member who served on each committee since the late 1940s).

Keith Poole's Voteview
VoteView contains a wealth of information about individual members of Congress and their roll-call votes. The data includes every member of the House and Senate - their political party, estimates of their ideology, state, and congressional district - as well as the yeas and nays for each roll-call vote cast since the 1st Congress. There is also data on party unity votes and polarization. It is a fantastic resource for the study of Congress.

The Center for Responsive Politics
The Center for Responsive Politics maintains databases on money in U.S. politics. You can find data on elected officials' campaign spending as well as the financial activity of interest groups and 527s (among others). The Center for Responsive Politics is a non-partisan organization dedicated to understanding the effect of money on elections and public policy.

Federal Government Statistics
These two sources are fairly self-explanatory. Both contain a wide range of information about States and congressional districts. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, demographic and economic data.

The Federal Elections Commission
The data maintained by the FEC is also fairly self-explanatory. On the FEC's website you can find campaign information for candidates for elected office (House, Senate, President), PACs and party committees. In addition to data on these individuals' aggregate campaign finances, you can find information on the donors to each candidate as well.

The Library of Congress
Thomas.gov is a website cataloguing congressional bills. You can find the legislative history for any bill since the 93rd Congress (1973). The available data includes a bill's sponsor and cosponsor, the committee that reported the bill, amendments to each bill, votes on the floor and whether the bill was eventually enacted into law (or if it died, where in the process the bill died).

E. Scott Adler's Data Page
E. Scott Adler's page contains information on approximately 400,000 bills introduced in the U.S. Congress, currently 1947-2002, along with extensive information about each bill's progress and sponsor. It is used to study legisaltive institutions and behavior; by policy experts to study issue attention in Congress; and even by citizens studying their family histories.

The Roper Center
The Roper Center maintains an archive of U.S. public opinion polls. There are countless polls on virtually every major public opinion topic. One of the best features is that the archive is searchable by keyword.