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Welcome to the official British Election Study website.

The website provides everything you need to know about the study and access to both new and historical BES data. Data can be downloaded and analysed live online via the BES Data Playground.

The British Election Study (BES) is one of the longest running election studies world-wide and the longest running social science survey in the UK. It has made a major contribution to the understanding of political attitudes and behaviour over nearly sixty years. Surveys have taken place immediately after every general election since 1964. The first study conducted by David Butler and Donald Stokes in 1964, transformed the study of electoral behaviour in the UK. Since then the BES has provided data to help researchers understand changing patterns of party support and election outcomes.

The British Election Study is a non-partisan, objective independent study providing world-class data and research into British general elections, and which has covered every British general election since 1964. The British Election Study is committed to providing expertise which advances understanding of the British electorate to any interested party, as part of its broad commitment to public engagement and impact.

Watch our film, The British Election Study: Understanding British Democracy, featuring two of the nation’s leading journalists Michael Crick and Alastair Stewart. They describe how British politics has never been so unpredictable, with important new questions facing the electorate. It outlines how the BES is able help the public grapple with issues like the uncertainties of coalition politics, distrust of politicians, declining party membership and voter turnout. The film is funded by the School of Social Sciences at The University of Manchester, with other contributions from the BES leadership team based at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

The 2019-23 Study is themed Voters in the Context of Brexit and is designed to help our understanding of the interaction of long-term political change and political shocks in shaping citizens’ attitudes and behaviour.

Study components

  • An address-based random probability sample survey conducted via face-to-face interviews for maximum representativeness, geographic variation and long-run comparability.
  • An internet panel survey that began in 2014, and has covered the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 European Parliament Election,  2015 General Election, 2016 EU referendum, 2017 General Election, and 2019 European Parliament Election. Future waves will include pre-campaign, campaign, and post-election waves for the next general election, as well as inter-election waves in each year of the study.
  • A  range of survey-experiments embedded within the panel study itself.
  • A daily rolling thunder campaign study of voters, to allow analysis of shorter term campaign effects to provide important contextual information on the campaign.
  • The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems module in the post-election survey to enable international comparison.
  • A program of data linkage and harmonisation with related studies and data collected for administrative purposes, developing an integrated data infrastructure for the study of elections in Britain.

The British Election Study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council

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The Scientific Leadership Team is a consortium of the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.