Frequently Asked Questions

Who is included in this survey?
The survey usually only includes elected municipal legislators (e.g., city councilors, alderpersons) and executives (e.g., mayors, first selectmen). However, the 2017 AMOS will also include some staff (who are listed on their municipality’s website). The sample of municipal officials for the 2012, 2014, and 2017 surveys 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 2017 survey is designed to take only 2 to 3 minutes, and features 19 short demographic questions, which you can review here.  The previous surveys were 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.

When is the survey administered?
The American Municipal Official Survey was first conducted in the summer of 2012 and again in 2014 and 2016.  The 2017 is being conducted right now (beginning September 2017). 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 2017 survey consists of 19 short demographic questions, which you can review here.

The questions in the previous surveys 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.  Three studies using the results from the 2012 AMOS have been published so far, two in one of the top journals in the discipline.  You can find links to these studies here. For example, one of these research articles used data from the AMOS to examine 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. You can see some of the initial results from previous surveys here.

Who is running the survey?

As mentioned on the home page, the American Municipal Officials Survey is run by Professors Adam Dynes (at Brigham Young University), Daniel Butler (at the University of California San Diego), Hans Hassell (at Cornell College), and Michelle Torres (at Washington University in St. Louis). The American Municipal Officials Survey was begun in 2012 at Yale University by Professors Adam Dynes and Daniel Butler. The survey has involved many different projects from political scientists at universities across the U.S., including

  • Brigham Young University,
  • Cornell College,
  • Northwestern University,
  • Temple University,
  • University of California San Diego,
  • University of California Santa Barbara,
  • University of Chicago,
  • University of Houston,
  • University of Virginia,
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill,
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Washington University in St. Louis,
  • Yale University

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.