The BES (held under the UK Data Archive generic study number 33066) has three general aims:
- to collect data with a view to describing and explaining the outcome of general elections
- to analyse long-term changes of political attitudes and behaviour from the early 1960s to the present
- to organise and make available these data in a form suitable for a wide range of research
The BES covers the following main subject areas: Political preferences and values; economic perceptions; social attitudes; dispositions to engage in different forms of political activity; and individual and household socio-demographic characteristics.
The panel surveys are designed to analyse political change - to discover when and why voters change their political allegiances during an electoral cycle, and in response to what events. They examine voting or abstentions in local government and European elections as well as fluctuations in party support during the lead-up to general elections.