The Centre

Over four decades the Elections Centre has established a reputation across a broad range of organisations across government, political parties and the media.

Best known for its comprehensive database of local election results the Centre also works on parliamentary and other elections.

Since 2006 the Centre has also conducted the annual Local Election Candidates Survey under the supervision of Dr Mary Shears. These provide evidence about the people that stand for election to local councils, their motives for doing so and their electoral experience.

The Centre’s Directors, Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, are regular contributors to national media. They write for The Sunday Times, Local Government Chronicle, and the Local Government Association’s First magazine, and have had a significant presence on ITV and Sky News since 1989 and formed part of the exit poll team that announced the surprise outcome of the 2015 general election.

Rallings and Thrasher were awarded the prestigious Political Studies Association national award for ‘crucial work on elections over a sustained period’ combining ‘academically rigorous study with rare communicative skills’.

A Guardian editorial (‘In praise of…Rallings and Thrasher, 02/05/2013) attested to their long and ‘distinguished record…in illuminating British democracy’.

Rallings and Thrasher receiving the PSA communication award from Jackie Ashley
Rallings and Thrasher receiving the PSA communication award from Jackie Ashley

The Centre’s work is underpinned by research.  Along with their collaborator, Dr Galina Borisyuk, research papers examine the nature and operation of electoral bias in UK parliamentary elections (with Ron Johnston of Bristol University), the effects of candidate appearance on voting (with Susan Banducci and Jeff Karp of Exeter University), the ethnic origins of candidates and patterns of voter support (with Richard Webber of OriginsInfo), mayoral elections (with David Cowling, former Head of Political Research, BBC and Research Fellow, Kings College), split-ticket voting, and with Scott Orford of Cardiff University a series of papers considering voter participation and travelling distance to polling stations.