The Elections Centre at Plymouth University has conducted annual local election candidate surveys since 2006. A random sample of candidates standing for local elections are contacted by post and asked to respond to a variety of questions, including previous political career, campaigning, experience as a councillor as well as standard demographic identifiers. Additionally, each survey investigates a particular area of topical interest, and so over the years The Centre has built up a broad range of information on candidates’ attitudes towards a variety of issues.
Several institutions have commissioned questions and reports from the Elections Centre, including: the Improvement & Development Agency (I&DeA), The Electoral Commission, the London Councils and more recently the Local Government Association (LGA).
These survey data are unique in providing our only national information about who challenges for local elected office. Candidates contesting every type of principal local authority have been surveyed. The data collection period of 2006 – 2012 spans two complete electoral cycles for the London boroughs, metropolitan boroughs, shire districts and unitary council elections, and one year for the county council elections (2009). The survey this year will complete the entire electoral cycle for all authorities.
All of the Election Centre’s surveys and reports are publically available to download. You are able to see all questions put to candidates each year and the corresponding annual report, which contains the statistical summary of all responses, accessed via the left-hand menu.
We intend to continue this series of surveys with local election candidates and are always interested in researching new developments that influence local politics.