A major shortcoming of most voter surveys investigating voting behaviour is that post-electoral surveys are only in the field a couple of weeks after election day. Because of the time elapsed since the election, we can expect recall errors to affect voters’ responses. Furthermore, how voters report their voting behavior and the vote choice process in a post-electoral survey is influenced by the media coverage of the election results. As a result, in these types of voter surveys, we can expect responses to be biased not only by the actual election results but also by how results are interpreted by analysts and politicians. In order to avoid these types of bias, ideally voters are questioned on their voting behavior and political attitudes right after they leave the polling booth. That is exactly why we decided to organize an exit-poll voter survey on the occasion of the local elections in Belgium, organized on October 14th 2012.
Within the framework of the Interuniversity Attraction Pole PartiRep, several Belgian universities and university colleges (KU Leuven, ULB, UAntwerpen, VUB, Hogeschool Gent and UHasselt) collaborated on the organization of the exit-poll survey. The fieldwork has resulted in the ‘PartiRep Exit-poll 2012’-dataset, containing information on a representative sample of 4,591 Belgian voters. An additional 124 voters are included in order to oversample the municipalities Antwerpen and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, in which there was particular interest from the research team. The full details on the survey procedure can be found in the technical report.
A major innovation of the PartiRep exit-poll was the combination of a traditional questionnaire with a mock-ballot. This method of surveying vote choices has previously been employed in the Irish National Election Studies (Marsh & Sinnot, 2007). Especially given the open list electoral system in Belgium and the frequency of preference votes therein, this mock-ballot design is a perfect tool to record voting behavior taking into account preferential voting.
The list of variables included in the dataset can be found here. To receive the data one should fill in the draft contract (download here) and send two signed hard copies to the address mentioned at the top.