Over four decades the Elections Centre at Plymouth University has established itself as a distinct brand across political and governmental organisations from Whitehall to Town Hall, and in bridging the gap between academia, political practitioners, and the media.
Its reputation for compiling accurate, large-scale datasets is unsurpassed.
The Centre has adapted such data to provide public-facing core information and evidence-based analysis. It sets the national benchmarks that frame reporting of both local and parliamentary elections.
Although best known for its comprehensive database of local election results in Britain it has also compiled figures for other types of elections, including general elections - on three occasions following parliamentary boundary changes it has calculated authoritative notional results in the new constituencies. These measures are used throughout the print and broadcast media.
Since 2006 it has also conducted the annual Local Election Candidates Survey under the supervision of Dr Mary Shears.
The Centre’s Directors, Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, are regular commentators 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 overnight results programmes at general and many other elections since 1989.
Rallings and Thrasher were awarded a prestigious Political Studies Association award for ‘crucial work on elections over a sustained period’ combining ‘academically rigorous study with rare communicative skills’. A Guardian editorial (02/05/2013) attested to their long and ‘distinguished record…in illuminating British democracy’.
The Centre’s work is underpinned by publication in the best journals in both Political Science and Geography. In association with Dr Galina Borisyuk recent publications include papers examining the nature and operation of electoral bias in UK parliamentary elections, the ethnic origins of candidates and patterns of voter support, split-ticket voting and the effects of distance on electoral turnout.