Getting to work with UK 2017 general election data


As the reality of a hung parliament starts to sink in, economists, political scientists and commentators will begin their usual routine of “post mortem” analysis of the surprise result of the UK 2017 general election. My co-authors Sascha Becker and Dennis Novy have done a similar exercise studying the EU Referendum last year [see also here]  and have worked on the question whether migration contributed to an erosion of pro EU sentiment [see also here].

For people wanting to get to work straight away, there are a few things slowing us down.  The last constituency, Kensington, was not called until last night and so I dont expect the UK’s Election Commission to post the final tally of votes across all constituencies anytime before next week. Nevertheless, the crude election results data can be “scraped” from some infographics. This post describes how…

The Economist’s Infographics

The Economist, among other newspapers, provides a very nice infographic – behind that info graphic lies a web service that can be queried using JSON formed requests.

Economist Magazine Infographic presenting UK 2017 Election Results

Each Parliamentary constituency has an identifier code that can be used to query the web service and pull the results. The URL for a request is quite simple:

This provides the results for the constituency Cambridgeshire, South East. The JSON object looks as follows

resultCB({"swing": -3.84, "mpn": "Lucy Frazer", "electorate": "86121", "lib": 11958, "id": "E14000937", "name": "Cambridgeshire, South East", "lab": 17443, "con": 33601, "status": "hold", "pa_key": "123", "oth": 0, "region": "East Of England", "win": "con", "turnout": "63002"})

This piece of Javascript calls a function resultCB that updates one of the views of the infographic.

In order to convert this to an R data frame, we can use the RJSONIO or jsonlite package functions fromJSON, after having removed the part that calls the function, i.e.

##          id pa_key oth                       name win status swing   lib
## 1 E14000937    123   0 Cambridgeshire, South East con   hold -3.84 11958
##            region         mpn electorate turnout   lab   con
## 1 East Of England Lucy Frazer      86121   63002 17443 33601

In order to build a data.frame of all election results, all that is necessary is to loop over the set of constituency codes available. I share the results from this step in the following spreadsheet Data for UK 2017 General Election Results (Economist Infographic).