Dundee to Host 2015 Qualitative Election Study of Britain

Researchers at the University of Dundee and GESIS-Liebniz Institute in Cologne, Germany are working intensively with voters to identify the issues, personalities and other factors that will decide in this year’s General Election.

The 2015 Qualitative Election Study of Britain (QESB 2015), a project led by Politics Lecturer Dr Edzia Carvalho and GESIS researcher Dr Kristi Winters, will conduct 20 focus groups before and after the May 7th vote to identify how the various party campaigns are resonating with the public. QESB 2015 aims to provide an insight into the reasons, opinions, and motivations underlying voting behavior, rather than the statistics generated by opinion polls and other surveys.

The researchers will gauge the individual issues of greatest concern to the electorate and how they relate to and influence voting intentions. The post-election focus groups will look at whether participants changed support during the campaign and why.

The focus groups will be conducted in Scotland, England, and Wales. The researchers will investigate the role of safe and marginal seats in influencing how people vote, how voters evaluate party leaders, and reactions to the Leaders’ Debates, among other topics. The impact of the Scottish referendum outcome on voters and voting in Scotland will be explored at those focus groups held north of the border.

“2015 is shaping up to be a very important and interesting election year,” said Dr Carvalho. “Last year’s referendum and the subsequent growth on pro-independence parties, the rise of UKIP and the consequences of coalition government in recent years mean there are many more factors at play than you might normally expect in a UK General Election.

“Hearing from people will help us capture in their own words the range of issues and perspectives that informed their vote and flesh out the numbers gathered by polling. Many nations have national surveys at elections but the QESB is breaking new ground by collecting people’s words, not just their responses. It is a great for the University of Dundee to host this new approach to studying elections.

Election studies take place across the world but the QESB hopes to set new standards in the field by mining beneath the raw data that such studies yield in order to understand influential factors on a more individual level. QESB 2015 has been supported by funding from the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust and the findings will be used together with research into the Scottish referendum conducted in December 2014.

The results of the five post-referendum focus groups with Yes and No voters and campaigners will be revealed at an event in the University’s D’Arcy Thompson Lecture at 3pm on Thursday, 28th March.

The event is free and open to the public. Places can be booked at https://scottish-referendum-dundee.eventbrite.com

New working paper – “I went with what I always do…”: A qualitative analysis of ‘Cleggmania’

New working paper from Carvalho, E. and Winters, K.(2012)  “I went with what I always do…”: A qualitative analysis of ‘Cleggmania’ and vote choice in the 2010 British General Election DO NOT CITE WITHOUT AUTHORS’ PERMISSION

Abstract: Using post-election focus group transcripts we provide new insights as to why ‘Cleggmania’, a highlight of the 2010 British general election, failed to translate into electoral success for the Liberal Democrats. Narrative and discourse analysis conducted on participants’ vote choice stories reveals a complicated choice calculus. Conservative and Labour voters’ narratives and those who leaned Liberal Democrats but ultimately remained true to their previous party cited values or identity. Liberal Democrat voters cited tactical and satisficing reasons or support for a principle or a policy. For Qualitative Election Study of Britain participants the effect of ‘Cleggmania’ was limited to strengthening the resolve of wavering or leaning Liberal Democrat voters. We also draw attention to the important role of constituency dynamics in decisions and conclude that qualitative research can provide insights into vote choice that cannot be realised either through existing survey data or lab based experimentation.

2010 British general election leader evaluations: a case study using focus group data

2010 British general election leader evaluations: a case study using focus group data

What does qualitative electoral research look like? Read our latest working paper on Leader Evaluations in the 2010 Election to see an example.