The key to recent British elections

Ron Johnston*, Charles Pattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Elections are a geographer's delight, providing them with large amounts of data that can be mapped and spatially analysed. This is especially the case with elections to legislative bodies - such as the UK's House of Commons and the USA's House of Representatives - which use single-member district systems characterised by a winner-takes-all method (often termed first-past-the-post or plurality) for translating votes cast for political parties into legislative representation. Not only are the data intrinsically geographical - they refer to spatially defined places and territorially delimited vote containers - but in addition the entire organisation and conduct of elections in such circumstances is an inherently geographical activity. This essay demonstrates that geography is much more than epiphenomenal in electoral studies through a case study of British general elections over the last 60 years, based on a large number of empirical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1865-1880
Number of pages16
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

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