Frequently Asked Questions

Who is included in this survey?
The survey is of elected municipal legislators (e.g., city councilors, alderpersons) and executives (e.g., mayors, first selectmen). The sample of municipal officials for the 2012 and 2014 survey was constructed by first using Census data to choose a sample of municipalities from across the United States. Student research assistants then searched for the website of each municipality in the sample. From the website they collected the name and email address of the elected legislators and executive. These officials were then invited via email to participate in the survey.

How is the survey administered?
The survey is administered online using the online survey software, Qualtrics, the industry standard for academic and business surveys. Potential survey participants are invited to participate via an email with a link to take the survey online.

Who will see my answers?
All of your responses (as well as your decision to participate in this study) will be confidential so that only the researchers and those responsible for research oversight will have access to the individual data. Aggregate results may be made available to other scholars, but no information that could identify an individual respondent will ever be made public.

How long is the survey?
The surveys are designed to take 10 minutes, but the length will vary for each respondent depending on how they answer the questions and the speed of their internet connection. In addition, survey respondents can leave the survey at any time and return to where they left off using the survey link included in the email invitation to participate.

How will the $500 donation to charity be handled?
To thank officials for their participation, a member of our research team (who is at Washington University in St. Louis) is going to donate $500 to a non-profit 501c3 organization based on the responses of one randomly selected municipal official who completes the entire survey. We will draw the winner at the very end of May once the survey closes and contact them directly to let them know that they were chosen.  To complete the donation, we will need to gather some information from the chosen respondent though we will not publicize the name of the person who was chosen. Please note that the donor put together a spectrum of 501c3 non-profits for respondents to choose from. The inclusion of any 501c3 non-profit and any donation to a respondent’s chosen 501c3 non-profit do not indicate an endorsement of that 501c3 non-profit by the researchers involved in this project or any institution they are affiliated with.

When is the survey administered?
The American Municipal Official Survey was first conducted in 2012 and again in 2014. We will conduct the survey again in May of 2016. If you are an elected municipal official who would like to participate in the survey, please contact Adam Dynes (, one of the directors of the study.

What kind of questions does the survey ask?
The questions concern general information about the respondents and their municipalities as well as a series of questions assessing the politics of local government and what factors affect municipal policymakers’ decision-making. Most of the questions in the 2016 survey differ from those asked in 2014 and 2012. For example, the 2012 survey asked many questions about respondents’ positions on specific issues (see the aggregate results here), but these same questions were not in the 2014 or 2016 survey. Potential respondents should keep in mind that they can skip any questions they would prefer not to answer or end the survey at any time. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary.

How will the results be used?
The results of the survey will be used for academic research, intended for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals.  One study using the results from the 2012 AMOS will be published soon in one of the top journals in Political Science.  You can access it here. This particular research paper examined what factors affect local policymakers’ interest in learning about the policy experiences from other municipalities. Other projects from the 2012 and 2014 AMOS are still in the publication process. However, you can see some of the results from the 2012 and 2014 survey here and here.

How can I get more information about the survey?
If you have further questions, please contact Adam Dynes (, one of the directors of the study.