How the University of Manchester examined long-term voting trends with YouGov Custom Research
January 19th, 2022, Frances Johnson

How the University of Manchester examined long-term voting trends with YouGov Custom Research

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Measure long-term trends in British voting behavior during a volatile political environment.


Survey nationally and politically representative sample of GB adults and recontact respondents.


Completing the 20th panel element wave of the British Election Study.


Business challenge

The British Election Study is one of the most prestigious public opinion studies in the UK and the longest running social science survey in the country, dating back to 1964. YouGov partnered with the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford to examine long-term trends in British voter behavior, political preferences, and values.

The data collected as part of the study is made available publicly, providing a rich data source for universities and the public alike. The study is cited in hundreds of academic papers each year and is used to understand electoral behaviour in the UK. Therefore a highly reliable and trustworthy solution is required.


Leverage YouGov’s proprietary panel of 2.5m registered GB members to complete the 20th wave of the 2014-2023 panel element of the long-running study. The respondents are re-contacted in each wave to monitor change on an individual level. The panel study has so far covered the Scottish Independence Referendum, 2014 European Parliament Election, 2015 General Election, 2016 EU Referendum, 2017 General Election, 2019 European Parliament Election and 2019 General Election.

YouGov surveys 30,000 British adults each wave, representing a national and political sample of adults living in Britain. The size and reach of YouGov’s panel allows access to harder-to-reach groups, despite the large overall sample size.

YouGov’s in-house survey design system lends itself to complex questionnaire design. This enables political experiments including split samples and conjoint analysis, and can divide respondents in the current waves by groups created in previous waves.


The versatility of YouGov’s research solutions enabled a three-wave general election element to be conducted in November and December 2019 – having originally been scheduled for 2022. This involved designing, implementing, and collecting over 90,000 responses across three 25-minute surveys – all with a lead time of just four weeks.

Thanks to YouGov’s highly engaged panel, the British Election Study has achieved a wave-on-wave respondent retention rate of over 80%. This allows accurate and reliable data over many years of research. YouGov’s ever-growing panel source of living data on consumers “consistently outperforms competitors on accuracy”, as concluded by The Pew Institute.

The data is used widely amongst the academic world and public alike. The findings have been referenced in hundreds of academic papers and journals, and the data was used for the recent book “Electoral Shocks: The Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World”.


Client testimonial

"YouGov has collected data for us since we started running the study in 2014. We have always been extremely satisfied with the service and quality of the data. YouGov is highly competitive on price and quality. They can deliver large samples and high wave-on-wave response rates. They are helpful and flexible with deadlines, non-standard survey demands and ad hoc requests. Last but not least, the team are all really helpful, friendly and easy to work with.”

- Prof. Edward Fieldhouse, Professor of Social and Political Science

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