Empirical electoral and political research examines political behavior and political attitudes of voters, party members, candidates, etc. Studies with complex survey designs connecting data from different sources, such as voter opinion surveys, candidate surveys, analysis of news coverage in electronic and print media or analysis of party platforms are particularly well-suited for this. One such complex study GESIS participates in is the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES). The research in this area currently focuses on following topics:
The focus here is on studying party identification and electoral behavior, for example investigating so-called vote-splitting, i.e. using the first and second vote to vote for different parties, as well as looking at questions such as which factors generally influence party identification and voting behavior, and the influence party identification has on voting behavior. The long-term development of electoral behavior also comes under analysis here.
Research in this area looks at the effects that institutional regulations can have on the utilization of instruments of direct democracy. Concepts from general electoral research, among others, are applied to the area of direct democracy to help understand attitudes towards this and the usage of instruments of direct democracy.
The focus of research here is on examining the differences and similarities among structures and functions of political systems with an interest in both content questions as well as methodological questions of system comparison. Substantial topics to be researched include models of government, representation and behavior; particularly models of electoral behavior.