The general election scheduled for May 2015 promised to be one of the most unpredictable and closely contested for many years.
It was the first election for 80 years to follow the period in office of a peacetime coalition government. It took place against the background of one of the most sustained incursions into the established party system since the foundation of the Labour Party 100 years ago. It reflected the impact of the independence referendum in Scotland on politics on both sides of the border.
This open event (part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science) was led by Professor Colin Rallings and Professor Michael Thrasher. It was designed to offer participants the chance to enhance understanding of what might happen and why, and to share their own opinions and insights through questions and contributions from the floor.
The session made extensive use of Rallings and Thrasher’s own work on elections as well as findings from other ESRC sponsored resources such as the British Election Study and the British Candidate Survey. It showed how social science has helped us evaluate changes in patterns of voter loyalties and behaviour over time; how different electoral outcomes emerge; and appraise the latest evidence from election results and opinion polls.