Using 1-year estimates, which year data should I use for an end-of-year event?

I'm new to ACS data and this seems like a basic question I should've found answered elsewhere, but reading documentation and googling came up fruitless... so please humor me!

I'm doing an independent study on (mostly racial) demographics for US federal elections. I believe using 1-year estimates is appropriate for this, since I'm looking to note biennial trends/changes.

What I'm not sure about is which year data I should use. For example, for the November 2016 election, should I use 2016 or 2017 ACS data? Ultimately, I suspect the most important thing is that I'm consistent, but if there is any guidance on this, I would definitely love to hear it.

  • The ACS estimates are produced from surveys taking throughout the year. So, for example, 2017 1- year estimates are created from surveys collected throughout calendar year 2017. If you responded to a survey in January 2017 and I responded to it in November 2017, both of our responses would be used to create the 2017 estimates.

    So, in your case of relating to the 2016 election, I would probably use the 2016 estimates. As you said, it's important to be consistent and to document where your data come from in your study.
  • I second JamiRae's perspective on this one. Those surveyed in November 2016 would be in the 2016 one-year file, so I'd be inclined to use the 2016 ACS.