'Boris bonus' outweighs Labour lead

'Boris bonus' outweighs Labour lead
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With just two weeks until London's mayoral election, recent polling for the London Evening Standard shows Boris Johnson on course to remain mayor, but puts Labour ahead in London assembly

With just over two weeks to go until London’s mayoral election, YouGov’s first weekly campaign poll for the Evening Standard shows Boris Johnson on course to remain mayor – but puts Labour ahead of the Conservatives in the election for London’s assembly.

In the crucial head-to-head contest between the top two candidates, Boris leads Ken Livingstone by 53-47%. This is precisely his margin of victory four years ago. It is slightly down on his 54-46% lead in the last YouGov survey a month ago, but the change is not statistically significant.

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However, when we ask people their voting intention in the election for London’s assembly, a very different picture emerges. Here are the current figures for the city-wide list vote (which determined how many seats each party wins) compared with the result in 2008:

2008 result

2012 poll

Change

Party

Vote share %

Seats

Vote share %

Seats

Vote share

Seats

Labour

28

8

46

12

+18

+4

Conservative

35

11

35

10

0

-1

Lib Dem

11

3

9

2

-2

-1

UKIP

2

0

5

1

+3

+1

Green

8

2

3

0

-5

-2

BNP

5

1

1

0

-4

-1

Others

11

0

1

0

-10

0

 

There has plainly been a big swing to Labour since 2008 that has not been reflected in the mayoral contest. This is because of a large ‘Boris bonus’. The best way to view this is to look at the votes for the mayoral candidates in the FIRST round – the one where all the parties are represented. Here Boris leads Ken by 45-40%, while Labour leads the Tories in the Assembly list vote by 46-35%.

This means that the ‘Boris bonus’ is worth ten percentage points (45 minus 35), while the cost of Ken to Labour is six points (46 minus 40). In the previous three London elections, Ken outperformed Labour; now he badly underperforms his party.

This is because a significant number of Londoners – 8% of our total sample – are Labour supporters (according to their General Election voting intention) who prefer Boris as mayor. Most of them think Boris has done well as mayor and regard him as charismatic (even though they feel he is on the side of the rich); and, compared with Ken-supporting Labour loyalists, they think Ken is less than honest, out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people, and unlikely to make them better off.

The lesson is clear – the Conservatives have the right candidate to maximise their chances of retaining the mayoralty, while Labour has a candidate who has so far been unable to make the right impact in a city where the party generally does substantially better than in the rest of England. Unless this changes in the next two weeks, Labour London will once again elect a Tory mayor.

As for the Assembly, the news is bad for the Greens and the British National Party, both of which risk losing their only seats. The BNP’s prospects are especially grim: the party is currently on just 1% ‒ far short of the 5% threshold it must cross to win a seat, which it just managed to do four years ago. UKIP could gain a seat instead.

The Greens’ Jenny Jones has less far to climb. Our poll shows her party with just under 3.5% support. If they can persuade enough voters that, under London’s proportional voting system, a Green vote is not a wasted vote, their support will rise; however they would have to do remarkably well to retain both the seats they won last time.

Show the survey details and full results here

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