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Colin Rallings 

Name

Michael Thrasher  top

Job title

Professor of Politics

Department

School of Law & Social Science

Email address

m.thrasher@plymouth.ac.uk  

Telephone no.

+44 (0)1752 233207  

Fax

+44 (0)1752 232785  
     Research Teaching Publications Membership  

Role

Professor of Politics
Co-Director Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre

Qualifications and background

 

 

Michael Thrasher received his BA in Politics from the University of Liverpool in 1974. He remained in Liverpool to study for his doctoral thesis, The political theory of English local government, 1834-1972. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 1981. He began lecturing at Plymouth in 1977, becoming Professor of Politics in 1997. He is Co-Director of the Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre.

With his co-researcher, Colin Rallings, he established the Elections Centre in 1985 in order to collect, analyse and publish the results of local elections in Britain. The Centre produces the annual Local Elections Handbook, now in its 19th year of publication, which provides full details of local voting throughout Great Britain. Twentieth century local election results for a range of authorities are the subject of a new series of Centre publications.

Rallings and Thrasher have published extensively in the area of local electoral behaviour. A list of more recent publications can be found below. Since 1984 they have also published a monthly review of by-elections for the Local Government Chronicle. These results are used to develop a model that estimates the monthly national standing of the three main political parties. Rallings and Thrasher are frequent contributors to The Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph while Thrasher is an elections analyst for Sky News.

The Plymouth team has recently completed two other important projects relevant to electoral reform. The first project, funded by the DETR, has examined the determinants of local electoral turnout in England and is available from the DETR website. The second, a report on sub-national electoral systems in Europe, commissioned by the Rowntree Foundation, was recently published. A third project, sponsored by the Leverhulme Foundation, is examining the process and effects of re-drawing local authority ward boundaries and a research monograph on this topic was published in 2001.

Research

Interests Grants Consultancy

 

 

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* Research interests *

* Local Electoral Behaviour *
Various aspects of local electoral behaviour are currently being examined. One key concern is levels of turnout in local elections, which have been in recent decline. Various reports and articles have addressed this topic but with the aid of an ESRC research grant we will extend our understanding of local effects upon electoral participation. Prior research has shown that some wards and local authorities have higher or lower than expected levels of turnout. We intend to test a group of hypotheses that suggest an individual’s likelihood of voting in a local election is influenced by their immediate surroundings, defined by reference to people and place. Other aspects of local elections examined include patterns of party competition, party systems, candidate effects, especially gender and the impact of electoral cycles upon voter participation and council composition.

* Electoral Systems *
The operation of the first past the post electoral system at local level is a long-standing research interest. The scope of this research covers aspects of party competition, where and when party candidates choose to stand for election, as well as the electoral system’s impact upon council composition. Various measures, including those that identify the extent of electoral proportionality, are used to assess the operation of the electoral system at local level. Additionally, research is conducted into the operation of various systems of proportional representation at the sub-national level of government, particularly among states within the European Union.


* Electoral participation in multi-levels of governance *
The rates at which voters participate in elections for different levels of governance vary considerably. While electoral turnout at general elections in Britain is around 70% it is much less for local elections and lower still for elections to the European Parliament, falling below 25% of eligible voters for the most recent elections held in 1999. The purpose of this research, funded by the European Union and involving researchers from across Europe and the United States, is to investigate those factors that appear to affect the propensity to vote for different types of elected authority.

* Election Forecasting *
Models are developed in order to forecast the outcome of elections. One model, which uses local government by-election results, has been tried and tested for a number of years. It correctly forecast the vote shares for the three main parties at the 1997 general election. Other models are now under development. These include an approach which utilises a neural network that processes the responses to a series of questions about past elections and uses that information to forecast future election results.

* Grants *

A selection of recent grants:

  • ESRC, Local Elections database, 2003-2005: £55,000
  • AHRB, Historical Local Elections database, 2002-2005: £103,000
  • European Union, Partner in 5th Framework project, 2002-2002: £75,000
  • ESRC, Local electoral participation, 2000-2003: £145,000
  • Rowntree Foundation, Local electoral systems abroad, 1999-2000: £3,000
  • Local Government Chronicle, Local Elections Centre, 1999-2004: £25,000
  • Leverhulme Trust, 'Fixing' Local Ward Boundaries, 1997-1999: £35,000

* Consultancy *


A selection of recent External Consultancy:

  • Electoral Commission, Database and evaluation, 2005 general election, 2005
  • Electoral Commission, Database and evaluation, 2001 general election, 2001
  • Local Government Association, Evaluation of turnout pilots, 2000
  • Local Government Comm., Local electorate database, 2000
  • Local Government Comm., Local electorate database, 1999
  • DETR, Local voting and electoral procedures (with Maxwell Stamp plc), 1999

Teaching interests

 

Political Strategy: Britain and the EU - 2nd year;
Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
- 3rd year;

Publications  

Books Chapters Journals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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* Books *

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, British Electoral Facts, 1832-2006, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 7th edn. 2007)

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The Media Guide to the New Parliamentary Constituencies, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2007)

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The 2007 Local Elections Handbook, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2007)

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The 2006 Local Elections Handbook, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2006)

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, Elections 2005: The Official Results, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2005)

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The 2005 Local Elections Handbook, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2005)

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The 2004 Local Elections Handbook, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2004)

C. Rallings, D. Denver & M. Thrasher, The Media Guide to the New Scottish Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2004)

C. Rallings, M. Thrasher (& others), Public Opinion and the 2004 elections, (London: The Electoral Commission, 2003)

C. Rallings, M. Thrasher, & G. Borisyuk, The cycle of local government elections in England, (London: The Electoral Commission, 2003)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, Local Elections in Britain: A Statistical Digest, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 2003)

 Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, et al. One Vote, One Value. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002)

 Electoral Commission, Compiled by Colin Rallings & Michael Thrasher, Election 2001 - The Official Results, (London: Politicos, 2001)

 Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher. Patterns of Voting in Parliamentary Constituencies 1990-2000. (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, University of Plymouth, 2001)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, Elections – the 21st century model: An evaluation of May 2000 local electoral pilots (London: Local Government Association, 2000)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1999, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000)

 C. Rallings, M. Thrasher & G. Stoker, Proportional Representation in Local Government: Lessons from Europe, (Joseph Rowntree Foundation: York Publishing Services, 2000)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, New Britain: New Elections, (London: Vacher Dod, 1999)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, British Parliamentary Election Results 1983-1997, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, Britain Votes 6, (Aldershot: Ashgate 1998)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, Local Elections in Britain, (London: Routledge, 1997)

 C. Rallings, M. Thrasher & J. Downe, Enhancing Local Electoral Turnout : A guide to current practice and future reform (York Publishing Service, 1996)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, Local Voting and the New Parliamentary Constituencies, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 1996)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The Media Guide to the New Parliamentary Constituencies, (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 1995)

 

* Chapters in Books *

M. Cole, T. Jones, C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'Elections and Public Opinion: Blair's Third and Final Electoral Triumph' in M. Rush and P.Giddings (ed) Palgrave Review of British Politics, 2005. (Basingstroke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

M. Thrasher & C. Rallings, 'Electoral turnout - theories, trends and predictions' in V. Gibbons (ed) The People Have Spoken. UK elections: who votes and who doesn't. (London: Hansard Society, 2001)

M. Thrasher & C. Rallings, 'Results and Tables' in Electoral Commission, Election 2001: The Official Results. (London: Politicos, 2001)

C. Rallings, M. Thrasher, Ware, L., et al. District Magnitude and Third Party Representation in Local Government. British Elections and Parties Review 11, 192-211. J. Tonge, L. G. Bennie, D. Denver and L. Harrison. (London: Frank Cass, 2001)

 Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher. Proportionality and Disproportionality in English County Government, 1973-1997. British Elections and Parties Review, volume 10, 216-234. P. Cowley, D. Denver, A. T. Russell and L. Harrison. (London: Frank Cass, 2001)

 C. Rallings, M. Thrasher and C. Gunter, ‘Proportrionality and Disproportionality in English County Government 1973-97’ in P. Cowley et al. (eds) British Elections and Parties Review, 10 (London: Frank Cass, 2000)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, ‘Local Voting in London, 1889-1962’ in A. Willis and J. Woollard, Twentieth Century Local Election Results (Plymouth: Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre, 2000)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'Local parties in England: development and change 1973-94' in M. Saiz & H. Geser (eds), Local Parties in Political and Organisational Perspective (Boulder: Westview Press, 1999)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'Split-ticket voting at the 1997 British General and Local Elections: An Aggregate analysis' in D. Denver et al. (eds) British Elections and Parties Review 8 (London: Frank Cass, 1998)

 C. Rallings, M. Thrasher and V. Hoffman-Martinot, ‘Variations Intercommunales de l’abstentionnisme en Angleterre et en France’ in D. Pumain and M-F. Mattei (eds), Donnees Urbaines 2 (Paris: Anthropos, 1998)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'Forecasting Vote and Seat Share in Local Elections' in D. Farrell, D. Broughton, D. Denver and J. Fisher (eds) British Elections and Parties Yearbook 1996 (London: Frank Cass 1996)

 C. Rallings, M. Thrasher and M. Temple, 'Participation in Local Elections' in L. Pratchett and D. Wilson (eds) Local Democracy and Local Government (Macmillan, 1996)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'The Results of Elections to the European Parliament 1994' in M. Thrasher, D. Farrell, D. Denver and D. Broughton (eds) British Elections and Parties Yearbook 1995 (London : Frank Cass 1996)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'The electoral impact of the new parliamentary constituency boundaries' in I. McLean and D. Butler (eds) Fixing the Boundaries : Defining and Redefining Single-Member Electoral Districts (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1996)

 C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, 'The Electoral Record' in D. McIver (ed), The Liberal Democrats (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1996)

 

* Journal Articles *

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher and G. Borisyuk (2009). Unused Votes in English Local Government Elections: Effects and Explanations. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties 19 (1): 1-23.

Banducci, S. A., J. A. Karp, M. Thrasher, and C. Rallings (2008). Ballot Photographs as Cues in Low-Information Elections. Political Psychology 29 (6): 903-917.

Orford, S., C. Rallings, M. Thrasher, and G. Borisyuk (2008). Investigating Differences in Electoral Turnout: The Influence of Ward-Level Context on Participation in Local and Parliamentary Elections in Britain. Environment and Planning A 40 (5): 1250-1268.

Borisyuk, G., R. Johnston, M. Thrasher, and C. Rallings (2008). Measuring Bias: Moving from Two-Party to Three-Party Elections. Electoral Studies 27 (2): 245-256.

Rallings, C., R. Johnston, and M. Thrasher (2008). Changing the Boundaries but Keeping the Disproportionality: The Electoral Impact of the Fifth Periodical Reviews by the Parliamentary Boundary Commissions for England and Wales. Political Quarterly 79 (1): 80-90.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2008). The Demise of New Labour? The British 'Mid-Term' Elections of 2008. Forum-a Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics 6 (2).

Borisyuk, G., C. Rallings, M. Thrasher and H. van der Kolk (2007). Voter Support for Minor Parties - Assessing the Social and Political Context of Voting at the 2004 European Elections in Greater London. Party Politics 13: 669-693.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2007). The Turnout 'Gap' and the Costs of Voting - a Comparison of Participation at the 2001 General and 2002 Local Elections in England. Public Choice 131 (3-4): 333-344.

Borisyuk, G., C. Rallings, and M. Thrasher (2007). Women in English Local Government, 1973-2003:Getting Selected, Getting Elected. Contemporary Politics 13 (2): 181-199.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2006). Just Another Expensive Talking Shop: Public Attitudes and the 2004 Regional Assembly Referendum in the North East of England. Regional Studies 40 (8): 927-936.

Ware, L., G. Borisyuk, C. Rallings, and M. Thrasher (2006). A New Algorithm for Estimating Voter Turnout When the Number of Ballot Papers Issued Is Unknown. Electoral Studies 1: 59-71.

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, and D. Denver (2005). Trends in local elections in Britain, 1975-2003. Local Government Studies 31 (4): 393-413.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2005). Elections & Polls 2004. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties 131 (3-4): 333-344.

Borisyuk, R., G. Borisyuk, C. Rallings, and M. Thrasher (2005). Forecasting the 2005 General Election: A Neural Network Approach. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 7 (2): 199-209.

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, B. Cheal and G. Borisyuk (2004). "The New Deal for Communities: assessing procedures and voter turnout at partnership board elections." Environment and Planning C-Government and Policy 22(4): 569-582.

Thrasher, M., R. Johnston, and C. Rallings (2004). Magnifying voters' preferences: Bias in elections to Birmingham's city council. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 35 (1) :69-103.

Rallings, C., R. Johnston, and M. Thrasher (2004).  Equalising votes but enabling bias: The electoral impact of the 1977 and 1999 ward boundary reviews in London. Urban Studies 41 (7):1367-1393.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2004). Elections and public opinion: Leaders under pressure. Parliamentary Affairs 57 (2):380-395.

Borisyuk, G., C. Rallings, and M. Thrasher (2004). Selecting indexes of electoral proportionality: General properties and relationships. Quality & Quantity 38 (1): 51-74.

Kolk van der, H., C. Rallings, and M. Thrasher (2004). Electing Mayors: A Comparison of Different Electoral Procedures. Local Government Studies 30 (4): 589-608.

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, R. Johnston, and James Downe (2004). Redistricting Local Governments in England: Rules, Proceedures, and Electoral Outcomes. State Politics and Policy Quarterly 4 (4): 470-490.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2003). Explaining split-ticket voting at the 1979 and 1997 general and local elections in England. Political Studies 51 (3):558-572.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2003). Local electoral participation in Britain. Parliamentary Affairs 56 (4): 700-715.

Rallings, C., and M. Thrasher (2003). Elections and public opinion: Conservative doldrums and continuing apathy. Parliamentary Affairs 56 (2):270-+.

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, et al. (2003). Seasonal factors, voter fatigue and the costs of voting. Electoral Studies 22 (1): 65-79.

Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher (2002). Elections and public opinion: Amidst the apathy, another landslide. Parliamentary Affairs 55 (2): 347-362.

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, et al. (2002). The slow death of a governing party: the erosion of Conservative electoral support in England 1979-1997. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 4: 271-298.

Rallings, C., M. Thrasher, et al. (2002). Mayoral referendums and elections. Local Government Studies 28 (4): 67-90.

Johnston, R., C. Rallings, M. Thrasher, et al. (2002). Electoral success, electoral bias, and Labour hegemony: electoral system effects in English metropolitan boroughs. Environment and Planning A 34 (7): 1303-1317.

Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher (2001). Elections and Public Opinion: The End of the Honeymoon? Parliamentary Affairs 54 (2): 322-336.

Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher (2001). Measuring the level and direction of split-ticket voting at the 1979 and 1997 British general and local elections: A survey- based analysis. Political Studies 49 (2): 323-330.

Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher (2001). Electoral turnout - theories, trends and predictions. The People Have Spoken. V. Gibbons. London, Hansard Society: 5-10.

Rallings, C. and M. Thrasher (2000). Personality Politics and Protest Voting: The First Elections to the Greater London Authority, Parliamentary Affairs 53: 753-764.

M. Thrasher (1999). Coalitions and Electoral Reform. Local Government Studies, 25 (1): 99-104.

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher (1999). Local votes - national forecasts. International Journal of Forecasting 15 (2): 153-162

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher (1999). An audit of local democracy in Britain: the evidence from local elections. Parliamentary Affairs 52 (1): 58-76.

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher (1998). The 1998 Local Election Results and Democracy. Talking Politics 11 (1).

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher (1998). Local Elections Review. Politics Review 8 (1).

C. Rallings, M. Thrasher and C. Gunter (1998). Patterns of Voting Choice in Multimember Districts: the Case of English Local Elections. Electoral Studies 17 (1): 111-128.

C. Rallings, M. Thrasher and C. Gunter (1998). Calculating total vote where district magnitude is greater than one : A test of some algorithms using local election data. Journal of Applied Statistics 25 ( 5): 699-706.

M. Laver, C. Rallings, & M. Thrasher (1998). Policy Payoffs in Local Government. British Journal of Political Science 28:.333-353.

C. Rallings, M. Thrasher & D. Dorling (1998). The Epidemiology of the Liberal Democrat Vote. Political Geography 17(1): 45-70

C. Rallings & M. Thrasher (1997). The Local Elections. Parliamentary Affairs 50(4): 681-692 reprinted in P. Norris and N. Gavin (eds), Britain Votes 1997 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1997).

 

Professional Membership

 

 

 

 

  • Member of Political Studies Association
  • Member of Elections, Parties and Opinion Polls Group
  • Member of American Political Science Association
  • Member of Mid-West Political Science Association
  • Member of Urban Politics Group
  • Member of Electoral Systems Research Committee (IPSA)
  • Organiser of ECPR Workshop on Local Elections, Amsterdam, 1987
  • PSA Judge for Arthur McDougall Trust Fund prize for best Ph.D. on aspects of Party and Electoral politics, 2000-2003
  • Member, Advisory Panel, Standards Board for England, 2002-present

Frequent speaker at conferences of bodies such as Association of District Councils, Association of Electoral Administrators, Commission for Local Democracy, Hansard Society, Local Government Association, Local Government Management Board, Public Policy Research Network, Capita Training, Solace, etc.

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