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University of Essex wins £1.5 million election survey

The University of Essex has been awarded £1.5 million by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to conduct the latest British Election Study (BES).

The BES is the UK’s top political science research study. It investigates why people vote, and why they choose one party rather than another when they do vote. It has been held for every general election since it was introduced in 1964. Since its inception it has only ever been conducted by researchers at either Essex or the University of Oxford.

The study is being directed by Professor Paul Whiteley and Professor David Sanders in the Department of Government and the team includes Professor Harold Clarke and Professor Marianne Stewart of the University of Texas at Dallas. Professor Whiteley said: ‘We are conducting a series of major daily and monthly national surveys in the run-up, during and after the next general election to investigate why some people vote while others don’t; what factors explain which party a voter chooses; what factors explain the outcome of the election; and how the election affects public attitudes and British democracy more generally.’

New innovations in the design of the survey have been introduced that the BES team believe will strengthen our understanding of the effects of the election campaign and factors affecting the election outcome. New questions have been introduced on issues such as terrorism, immigration and media as well as on the recent global financial crisis.

Professor Whiteley added: ‘This is an extremely important and influential survey and we are delighted that yet again Essex is leading its development and implementation. Its results are sure to prove some fascinating insights into the election process for academics, politicians and the general public alike.’

Christine Garrington | alfa
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