The race to London mayor

Anthony WellsHead of European Political and Social Research
February 14, 2011, 11:52 PM GMT+0

The latest YouGov polling from London gives Labour a 16 point lead in Westminster voting intentions, but shows Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are neck and neck in the mayoral race.

Current voting intentions in London, with changes since the last General Election, are CON 34%(-1),LAB 50%(+13), LIB DEM 9%(-13). The 16 point Labour lead is the equivalent of a swing of 7 percent from the Conservatives to Labour which is almost exactly in line with Great Britain as a whole (a 7 point swing nationally equates to a 7 point Labour lead).

On these figures, you might expect Ken Livingstone to have a solid lead in voting intentions for the Mayoral election in 2012, but in fact he is running significantly behind his party. Voting intentions for the Mayoral election currently stand at Johnson 43%, Livingstone 45%, Lib Dem 6% and other candidates 7%.

With only two candidates yet to be selected this probably underestimates support for those parties who do not yet have candidates, but nevertheless shows Johnson and Livingstone virtually neck and neck.

The London Mayoral election is fought under the Supplementary Vote system, with the second preferences of losing candidates being redistributed to the top two candidates if no one candidate receives 50% in the first round. At this early stage it is not appropriate to ask a full second preference question, but when we asked respondents who they would choose between just Johnson and Livingstone (who are all but certain to be the final two candidates), Johnson was the preference of 45% compared to Livingstone on 42%.

The reasons for the difference between Labour's big lead at Westminster and almost non-existent lead for the mayoralty is partly down to the Liberal Democrat vote, which breaks in Johnson's favour, and partly down to there being more 'Labour for Boris' voters than there are 'Tories for Ken'.

See the survey details and full results