Publications by QESB Team

Research output using QESB data by QESB project team

Articles in print:

‘I went with what I always do…’: A qualitative analysis of ‘Cleggmania’ and vote choice in the 2010 British General Election

Edzia Carvalho and Kristi Winters

Abstract: We use focus group transcripts from the innovative Qualitative Election Study of Britain data set to provide insights into why ‘Cleggmania’ failed to translate into electoral success for the Liberal Democrats in 2010. Analyses conducted on participants’ vote choice stories indicate the effect of ‘Cleggmania’ was limited to strengthening the resolve of wavering Liberal Democrats. Long-time Labour and Conservative supporters who leaned Liberal Democrat before the election found their latent party identification made voting for a different party psychologically uncomfortable. Qualitative electoral research can advance our understanding of people’s voting calculus by analysing narratives for values, identity, utility maximising and constituency dynamics.

(2015), Vol. 68, Issue 2, pp. 423-446, doi: 10.1093/pa/gst050 

2010 British General Election Leader Evaluations: Replicating Electoral Focus Group Research

Kristi Winters & Edzia Carvalho

This research replicates and expands upon the qualitative electoral research of Winters and Campbell by using data from focus groups conducted in Essex, England to coincide with three leadership debates during the 2010 British general election. The Qualitative Election Study of Britain (QES Britain) broadly replicated winters and Campbell’s research design but includes innovations in data collection to more accurately capture assessments. This innovation means the data coding are based entirely on the evaluations of the participants. In our analysis we innovate in the way we display each leader’s unique evaluation structure. To capture the salience and direction of leadership assessments, we convey the dimensionality of popular perceptions for Brown, Cameron and Clegg using colour and scaling. Our results produce qualitatively informed evaluation structures for each party leader that contextualize quantitative survey findings. Although this case study is limited to a geographically specific group of participants, our results mirror the quantitative BES results. Such similarity in the qualitative and quantitative results increases our confidence that our results provide useful insights into the associations and evaluations ordinary people used in their assessments of the main political party leaders.

The Qualitative Report (2013) Volume 18, Issue 88, 1-21

Qualitative Methods

Kristi Winters, Edzia Carvalho, and Thom Oliver

Related data set “Qualitative Election Study of Britain, 2015” with DOI in repository “UK Data Service”.

The Qualitative Election Study of Britain (QESB) is the first (and only) qualitative longitudinal dataset to investigate political attitudes and voting behaviour over multiple elections and referendums in the United Kingdom. During the 2015 UK general election over 90 voters participated in 23 focus groups across England, Scotland, and Wales before and after polling day. These participants represented a range of political party supporters and independent voters, age groups, and economic backgrounds. They discussed a range of political issues including their vote choice in the election, their impressions of the major party leaders, why they would consider voting (or never voting) for a political party, and their expectations for the country moving forward. Special focus groups were also held around the three leaders’ debates. The 2015 QESB also brought back participants who had participated in the 2010 QESB focus groups and the 2014 Scottish referendum focus groups. The 2015 QESB has created a unique panel of participants whose political opinions can be tracked across multiple elections. The project also includes questions that were asked in prior election focus groups and has replicated, with some modifications, the research design of the previous wave of the study.

Research Data Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017), doi: 10.1163/24523666-01000007


The Qualitative Election Study of Britain: Qualitative Research Using Focus Groups

Kristi Winters & Edzia Carvalho

Qualitative Election Study of Britain was a qualitative investigation into people’s political attitudes before and after their vote choice for the 2010 general election. We provide a close examination of the leaders evaluation component of this much larger study to present our recommendations for good research design. By ‘research design’, we refer to the entire research process: from development of the research question through to reporting the results of the data analysis. Using the leaders’ evaluation component of the Qualitative Election Study of Britain as the research question, we explain and clarify the various aspects of a research design and provide examples of good research practice.

Pub. date: 2014 | DOI:

The Grounded Theory Method: Popular Perceptions of Party Leaders during the 2010 British General Election

Edzia Carvalho & Kristi Winters

The research question at the core of this study examined how people in Britain perceived the leaders of the three main political parties. To answer this question, we collected data from 14 focus groups held during and after the 2010 election campaign in the three nations of Britain. The Qualitative Election Study of Britain was the qualitative dataset generated from the transcripts of these focus groups. We used the grounded theory method to evaluate these data and examine how people viewed the leaders of the three main political parties. This method required reading and categorising the data multiple times to uncover different layers of patterns and codes. Each process of categorisation yielded categories and connections that were more substantive and analytical than the previous iteration. The grounded theory method was the appropriate method to examine popular perceptions of party leaders during the 2010 election campaign as it let us systematically uncover patterns and codes through a process of successive coding; we could analyse the data without preconceptions about what we would find. However, the method was not sufficient to provide deeper and nuanced representations of why people held such views. Therefore, we used discourse analysis to complement the grounded theory method and get the most detail from the data.

Pub. date: 2014 | DOI:


‘Just not relevant to us’: devolution, Scottish voters and the 2010 British general election.

Based on the cognitive demands devolution places on voters, we think the UK-wide parties should be pro-active by incorporating the reality of devolution in their campaign discourse when appropriate.

2010 British General Election Leader Evaluations: Replicating Electoral Focus Group Research:

Dr. Kristi Winters from GESIS, Cologne, Germany, and Dr. Edzia Carvalho from the University of Dundee, UK, discuss using discourse analysis to assess how ordinary people viewed the leaders of the three major UK political parties ahead of the 2010 elections.

Other publications

Kristi Winters
‘Chapter 48 Scarecrows or tin men: talking about party leaders.’ In Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box:  50 Things You Need to Know About British Elections. Philip Cowley, Robert Ford (eds.). London: Biteback. 2014.

“I went with what I always do…” A qualitative analysis of ‘Cleggmania’ and vote choice in the 2010 British General Election on Prezi. Presentation given at the 2012 Elections, Public Opinion and Parties conference, Oxford University.

Early version of the Leaders paper presented at 2010 Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties Conference, University of Essex.

Men, Women and Leader Evaluations (Powerpoint)