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UK Referendum Survey Experiments

1 March 2011 - 29 February 2012

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Jack Vowles

CI/s in Exeter: Professor Jeffrey Karp

Research partners: Associate Professor Dan Stevens, Dr. Sara Hobolt (Oxford), Professor Todd Donovan (Western Washington), Professor Shaun Bowler (University of California Riverside).

Funding awarded: £ 7,485

Sponsor(s): British Academy

About the research

The May 5 referendum asks Britons to choose between different ways of electing their MPs. Using surveys of people eligible to vote, our research asks: how effective are referendums on such matters in assessing what people really want? How interested and informed can ordinary people be on such matters? Will people respond to what politicians may have to say? What about the messages coming from the mass media? When they vote, are people more likely to think of partisan or particular interests, or the good of the entire country? Representing smaller parties more fairly will be one of the main arguments for shifting to the alternative vote (AV). How well do people understand how the first- past-the post system works? Will the experience of coalition government in Britain make it more or less likely that people will support a change to AV? This referendum provides a great opportunity for probing more deeply into how people feel about how their MPs are elected, and the reasons why they might or might not want change.

Visit the project website to find out more.

British Academy