Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Plymouth
Michael co-founded the Local Elections Centre in the early 1980s, publishing an annual record of results since then. In his academic research he has published on aspects of electoral behaviour and the local democratic process. This research examines factors affecting electoral turnout, including seasonal effects and journey distance to polling station; changing patterns of party competition; ballot order effects, especially name recognition, and electoral success; the representation of women in local government; the recruitment, demographic characteristics and attitudes of candidates and councillors.
In the 1980s Rallings and Thrasher began reporting on local elections for national newspapers and specialist publications. The Local Government Chronicle published their monthly reports on council by-elections eventually leading to a sponsorship that funded a growing team managing results coverage. Their long and continuing association with The Sunday Times began in 1986 and since then they have undertaken the newspaper’s analysis of local and parliamentary elections. Since 1989 Michael has been the principal elections analyst for Sky News. In 2019 he was an Alumni Awards Winner of the University of Liverpool.
The database of local ward election results compiled by Rallings and Thrasher contains records from the late nineteenth century onwards. In 2021 the number of candidacies recorded passed the one million mark.