About

The Scottish Election Study (SES) is a detailed independent study of politics and elections in Scotland, funded by the Economic and Research Council. The study provides world-class data and research that provide unique insights into the political attitudes and behaviour of Scottish citizens at election time.

The SES has run in-depth surveys at every devolved election in Scotland, the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum, the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, and the 2017 and 2019 UK General Elections. These surveys were influenced by earlier pre-devolution work in Scotland, notably the work of William Miller and Jack Brand on the 1979 Scottish Election Study (Miller and Brand, 1981), and the 1992 Scottish Election Study carried out by James Mitchell and Jack Brand which was administered as an ‘add-on’ to the 1992 British Election Study (Brand & Mitchell, 1994). 

The 2021 study consists of a two-wave panel survey of 4,000 Scottish eligible voters (the SES panel survey, or SESP) fielded online before and after the election. The panel design enables us to track campaign dynamics;  and will include a booster sample of young voters to allow for reliable inferences about subgroups within the population

Scottish Opinion Monitor (SCOOP)

For the first time, the 2021-2025 SES will be supplemented by a multi-wave internet survey of 1200 Scottish eligible voters, aged over 16, with respondents surveyed 3 times per year from 2021-2025 (Feb, June and Oct each year). The  SCOOP will track drivers of opinion change from the pre-election period to the run-in to the next devolved election. We will also use SCOOP as a means of fielding survey experiments testing the extent and consequences of polarization in Scottish public opinion over independence. SCOOP will be an open resource for the academic community:  questionnaire space is available, and we will release data quickly and summarise findings in press releases and via updates this website.

Current Team

Professor Ailsa Henderson

is Professor of Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. Her research is on comparative sub-state political behaviour and political culture, as well as on young people’s civic engagement, with recent work appearing in Political Behavior and Regional Studies  The PI for the SES 2016-2020 and SRS 2014, she also headed the behavioural research survey programme of the Centre on Constitutional Change funded by the ESRC under its Future of the UK and Scotland programme. Co-Director of the Future of England/State of the Union surveys, she is the co-author (with R Wyn Jones) of Englishess: The Political Force Transforming Britain (OUP, March 2021). She is also Deputy Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, Commissioner for the Boundary Commission for Scotland and one of three independent researchers for Scotland’s Citizens’ Assembly.

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Professor Rob Johns

is Professor of Politics at the University of Essex.  He has been a PI or CI on three Scottish Election Studies to date and co-authored book-length studies based on two (Johns et al. 2010; Carman et al. 2014). He has also particular expertise on the electoral rise of the SNP (Mitchell et al. 2012; Johns and Mitchell, 2016). His broader research interests are in political psychology, public opinion and survey experiments, with recent work appearing in the American Journal of Political Science and European Journal of Political Research

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Professor Chris Hanretty

is Professor of Politics at Royal Holloway, University of London. His research looks at the representation of constituency opinion and methods for estimating opinion in small areas such as constituencies, including Bayesian methods and machine learning.

In particular, he has generated and made publicly available a widely quoted and influential set of estimates of EU referendum voting at the Westminster constituency level. In 2019 he was awarded the Political Studies Association’s Richard Rose prize (for a “distinctive contribution to the study of British politics”), and the Leverhulme Trust’s Phillip Leverhulme Prize. He is co-director of the Democracy and Elections Centre at Royal Holloway, and academic consultant to the polling company Survation. His research has been published in the British Journal of Political Science and the American Journal of Political Science.

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Professor Christopher Carman

is Professor of Politics at the University of Glasgow. His research addresses public evaluations and expectations of representation and participatory democratic systems. He was lead investigator on the 2011 Scottish Election Study and lead author on the resulting monograph (Carman et al. 2014).  

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Dr Fraser McMillan

is a Research Associate on the project based at the University of Glasgow, originally from Aberdeen. He earned his PhD from the University of Strathclyde in 2019.

His primary academic interest is the role of campaign promises in representative democracy. He is also more generally interested in voting behaviour, party competition, British electoral politics and corporate lobbying.

Fraser leads on research questions related to pledge fulfilment, as well as general project management.

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Dr Jac Larner

is a Research Associate on the project based at the University of Edinburgh. He is also a Co-Investigator on the ESRC funded Welsh Election Study based at Cardiff University. He earned his PhD from Cardiff University in 2020.

His primary research interests are multilevel voting, national identity, and survey design. He also has more general interests in political psychology and group conflict.

He has previously been a research associate on the 2016-2019 Scottish Election Study.

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