Send us your feedback

Thank you for your feedback. An email has been sent to the ESRC support team.

An error occured whilst sending your feedback. Please review the problems below.

The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

The 2011 Welsh Election Study

Grant reference: RES-062-23-2625

« View grant details

Impact Report details

The 2011 Welsh Election Study: Impact Report
This is the final Impact Report of the 2011 Welsh Election Study (RES-062-23-2625)

Primary contributor

Author Roger Scully

Additional contributors

Co-author Richard Wyn Jones


The 2011 Welsh Election Study had several scientific objectives. The study sought to investigate the explanatory power of a number of different perspectives on voting behaviour in devolved elections. The study also sought to account for the overall outcome of the 2011 Welsh Assembly election, and the impact of the campaign period on that outcome. The study sought to generate substantial new information about public attitudes to devolution in Wales. In addition, the study aimed to continue the valuable time-series of Welsh election studies established since the late 1990s, and to produce a high-quality body of data that would soon be made available to other scholars. These objectives have all been achieved. The main drivers of voting turnout and voting behaviour in the 2011 Assembly election have been explored in substantial detail; for instance, a recently-published analysis (detailed below) demonstrates that a 'Valence politics' explanation of voting offers much greater explanatory purchase on behaviour than the social background characteristics that have traditionally been given priority in the analysis of Welsh voting behaviour. The project also delivered the first ever study of a devolved election that included a 'rolling' sample of respondents through the immediate pre-election campaign period. This enabled us to demonstrate the relative success of the Labour party's campaign in maintaining the party's lead, and converting positive attitudes into votes far more effectively than was achieved by one of its main opponents (Plaid Cymru). Continuity with previous Welsh election studies was ensured by replicating numerous questions used in previous studies; however, there were also some new question formats used, for instance in exploring attitudes towards devolution. Data from the project has been made available to other scholars, a number of whom are already using it in their own on-going research and teaching projects.

Two major types of outputs have resulted from the project. 1. The data-sets (and supporting documentation) produced. These result from the pre-election and post-election waves of sampling, as well as panel data available for all those respondents who participated in both survey waves. This data constitutes a major on-going research resource for any scholars interested in exploring devolved elections, attitudes to devolution in Wales, and other related topics. The data is freely available via The Data Archive, or via the project web-site. 2. A number of research outputs have been produced by the project team, including: - A recently-published article in Electoral Studies which uses data generated by the project to help conduct the first ever critical examination of the Three-Wales Model, long the established wisdom about Welsh voting behaviour. This article shows the model to be significantly flawed, and demonstrates 'valence politics' approaches to explain Welsh voting behaviour far better. - A paper recently submitted to Political Studies that compares Welsh and Scottish voting behaviour in 2011, and attempts to explain the sharply contrasting election results experienced in the two nations. This paper demonstrates that while the factors shaping voting in the two nations were largely common, UK-level politics had more influence on voting decisions in Wales than in Scotland. - A draft chapter for the Co-Investigators' book on Welsh Politics which explores data on changing public attitudes to devolution in Wales, drawing on some of the innovative questions deployed by the study. - A short publication (co-authored by the Principal Investigator and an officer of the Electoral Reform Society) which used data generated by the study about voting preferences to investigate the potential impact of alternative electoral systems on National Assembly election results.

These impacts have been achieved in several ways. First, detailed research findings that draw on the data from by the 2011 Welsh Election Study were presented in the research outputs outlined immediately above. Second, findings from the study were presented and discussed at two breakfast seminars, in Cardiff and Aberystwyth, in October 2011; at a further seminar at the Institute of Government in London in December 2011; at a major academic conference (the European Political Science Association annual conference in June 2012); and at a seminar at the University of Manchester in March 2012. These presentations have ensured that key findings from the study have been widely disseminated to both academic and non-academic audiences. These presentations have also raised awareness of the availability of the data produced by the study. Third, all data produced by the study, as well as supporting documentation, have been made available to other scholars to access. Full data-sets and documentation were supplied to ESDS in autumn 2011. In addition, the data and documentation were made available to scholars via a dedicated web-site located at the Principal Investigator's then-workplace ( Data-sets were made available in both SPSS and STATA formats. The availability of the data was also advertised via the email list of the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties specialist group.

The findings of the study have had an impact upon scholars and students of Welsh politics and devolution, and on scholars of elections and voting behaviour more generally. The research outputs produced by the Co-Investigators have been submitted to journals with a very high visibility in the relevant scholarly community. Some of these outputs are also expected to be included in reading lists for advanced-levels courses on Welsh politics, devolution and elections. The publication co-authored with the Electoral Reform Society contributed to wider public debates about the electoral systems used for devolved elections in Wales. A number of scholars have informed the Principal Investigator that the data produced by the project will be used by them in on-going teaching and research: - Prof J. Bradbury (Swansea) - Dr C Carman (Strathclyde) - Dr D. Cutts (Manchester) - Dr R Johns (Essex) - Dr T Quinn (Essex) - Dr T Lundberg (Glasgow) - Prof L. McAllister (Liverpool)

Through its future use by scholars and students, the data generated by this project may enable the testing of a variety of hypotheses about electoral behaviour, or about public attitudes towards devolution. This work may well result in further important scientific impacts through publications that challenge existing understandings.

Not applicable.

Not applicable

No substantial economic and societal impacts were anticipated as arising from this project. Substantial efforts were made to ensure that the principal findings of this study were communicated to non-academic audiences. These efforts included the breakfast seminars in Cardiff and Aberystwyth, and the seminar at the Institute of Government in London, mentioned above and detailed in the End of Award Report. While the project's findings have thus been effectively communicated to non-academic audiences, and may well prove to have some significant influence over matters such as on-going debates over the shape of Welsh devolution, we are unable at present to point to a specific instance of substantial economic or societal impact arising from the project.

Cite this outcome


Scully, Roger and Wyn Jones, Richard. The 2011 Welsh Election Study: ESRC Impact Report, RES-062-23-2625. Swindon: ESRC


Scully Roger and Wyn Jones Richard. The 2011 Welsh Election Study: ESRC Impact Report, RES-062-23-2625. Swindon: ESRC.