The centre is widely recognised as the resource for local level elections data, expertise and research in Britain

The esteemed Elections Centre – known for predicting election results and providing crucial data on votes for the past four decades – is now part of the University of Exeter.

The centre is widely recognised as the resource for local level elections data, expertise and research in Britain. It is relied upon by many organisations, including the BBC, Sky News, ITV News and PA Media (the Press Association), the Local Government Association (LGA), The Sunday Times, the House of Commons Library, and the Electoral Commission to provide objective and non-partisan data and analysis.

The Centre holds and maintains probably the most extensive dataset of local election results in the world, recording information for over 1.4 million candidates. This includes every local election result in England and Wales since 1973, with some areas going back to 1899. The Centre’s archive contains valuable official returns of these election results.

The Elections Centre founders, Professors Michael Thrasher and Colin Rallings, have joined the Department of Social and Political Sciences, Philosophy and Anthropology as Honorary Professors of Politics. Dr Hannah Bunting, Lecturer in Quantitative British Politics, has become Co-director of the Centre.

The Elections Centre was founded by Professors Rallings and Thrasher in 1985, was associated with the University of Plymouth until 2017, then temporarily with Nuffield College, University of Oxford, before coming to Exeter in 2023.

Professors Rallings and Thrasher are part of the team that predicts election results in the exit poll, for which they were awarded a Royal Television Society award in 2018.  For The Sunday Times, they have estimated the national equivalent vote share at each round of local elections since the mid-1980s and have produced estimates for revised parliamentary constituencies following successive boundary changes on behalf of a consortium comprising BBC, Sky News, ITV News and PA Media. Over four decades The Elections Centre has been supported by large-scale UKRI grants and commissions.

The Centre is undergoing a redevelopment as it looks to the next generation of local democracy. A new website is coming soon, with plans to integrate machine learning and AI technologies for even deeper and quicker insights. It continues to collect local election data and partner with key industries to provide the most up-to-date, reliable and academically rigorous expertise on British politics.

Dr Hannah Bunting said: “I have been working with The Elections Centre for 10 years, starting as a research assistant during my undergraduate studies. The work that Michael and Colin have led through the Centre has had a demonstrable impact on how the public understands and engages with national and local democracy. I am excited to continue this work and expand the reach of the Centre in the new data-driven age, combining the latest technology with those 40+ years of data and expertise. As Britain moves to a decentralised and more place-based focus of power, there’s no better time to inform the public, businesses and third sector and enable local democracy to flourish.”

Professor Michael Thrasher said: “We are excited to be joining one of the UK’s leading Universities, bringing a new chapter in the development of The Elections Centre.  Working alongside Exeter’s brilliant academics, being able to draw upon its experts in data analysis and research methods, gives fresh impetus towards achieving The Centre’s core objectives.  The future holds the promise of more and better coverage of contemporary local election results and public engagement with these data.  We will improve the quantity and quality of historical results prior to the major reorganisation of local government in the 1970s.  Plans to extend coverage to Parish Council elections, hitherto missing from our data collection, have moved a step closer now that the Centre’s future is secured.”

Professor Colin Rallings said: “When Michael and I first established the Elections Centre 40 years ago it was still the technological dark ages. It was hard to find out what elections were taking place and sometimes even harder to discover the results. Contacting local authorities by landline (what else) often found us being told that ‘Ms Smith won’ with the assumption that that was all anyone could possibly want to know – and, anyway, the full details ‘are locked away in a filing cabinet’. Obtaining, collating and sharing information became progressively easier of course, but a new information revolution now beckons. It is the right time to pass the baton to this excellent team at Exeter who have the enthusiasm and skills to modernise the storage, accessibility and analysis of this unique resource.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: “We are delighted the Elections Centre is now a part of the University of Exeter. It is a centre of excellence for its research and expertise on local and national elections, and the work of Dr Bunting and Professors Railings and Thrasher has been vital for journalists and others.”

The Elections Centre is available for consultancy work and media requests, please contact This includes bespoke data analysis, insights and expertise, along with access to raw data. It welcomes requests from all sectors, including academics, businesses, charities and media organisations.