Sadiq Khan holds 19pt lead over Susan Hall with two weeks to go

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 19, 2024, 9:58 AM GMT+0

A fortnight before the mayoral election, most Londoners still don’t have a view of the Tory candidate

Earlier in the month our national MRP showed Labour on track to win all but 10 of London’s 75 Westminster constituencies, and now our latest London poll shows that Sadiq Khan is on course to romp home to a third term as mayor.

Currently 46% of London voters say they intend to back the Labour incumbent, compared to only 27% who are voting for his Conservative opponent, Susan Hall.

Elsewhere in the field of candidates, the Greens’ Zoe Garbett takes 9% of the vote, and Lib Dem Rob Blackie is on 8%. Howard Cox of Reform UK receives 6% of the vote.

Labour likewise have a commanding lead in Westminster voting intention in the capital, at 55% to the Conservatives’ 16%. While Khan’s 19 point lead over Hall is a slight tightening compared to February’s 25 point lead (although the changes are within the margin of error from last time), Labour’s Westminster vote share has grown by four points to 39.

That these two trends are diverging suggests that our polling is now starting to pick up mayoral voting intention proper, with people finally setting their minds to the contest now that it is imminent, rather than simply repeating their Westminster voting intention.

This could explain the increased polarization between voters in inner versus outer London since the previous poll. In February, inner Londoners were backing Sadiq Khan by 54% to outer Londoners’ 46%. Since then, Khan’s tally among Inner Londoners has increased to 64% but dropped among outer Londoners to 38% - now within the margin of error of Hall’s 33%.

Susan who?

There is little to suggest that the Conservative challenger can overturn Labour’s lead by 2 May: with just two weeks to go until polling day, most Londoners (53%) still don’t have a view of Susan Hall. Opinion among those who have heard of Hall tends to be negative: only 18% have a favourable opinion of her, while 28% have an unfavourable one.

By contrast, 39% of Londoners have a positive view of Sadiq Khan, while 49% have a negative impression of the Labour mayor. While this still gives him a net negative rating overall (-10), he nevertheless has the highest ‘favourable’ figure of all politicians we asked about. National Labour leader Keir Starmer is similarly popular in the capital, with 37% having a positive view of him and 44% having a negative view (for a slightly better ‘net’ score of -7).

Prime minister Rishi Sunak is far more unpopular, with a net score of -53, as is former mayor and former PM Boris Johnson on -50.

Londoners tend to disapprove of Sadiq Khan’s record as mayor

So while Khan’s victory in the upcoming election looks likely, this does not reflect widespread approval of his record so far.

Only slightly over a third of Londoners think that Khan has done a good job as mayor (36%), with around half saying he’s done poorly (52%).

Even among those Londoners who intend to vote Labour at the coming general election, 34% think that Khan has done a bad job in his eight years in office.

Four in ten Londoners (40%) reckon they could have done a better job as mayor than Khan, although this is lower than the number who say the same of Boris Johnson as mayor (47%).

Only 19% of Londoners think that Khan being returned to office would have a positive impact on their quality of life, compared to 33% who say it would have a negative impact. The largest portion (37%) think it would make no real difference, perhaps unsurprising given that Khan is the incumbent.

Again, however, Susan Hall does not look in a position to seriously challenge the mayor. Londoners tend to be unsure what impact Susan Hall becoming mayor would have on their lives (39%), although those with a view are more likely to think it would be negative (26%) than positive (14%).

What will influence Londoners’ decision of who to vote for?

Given a choice of up to three issues, a majority of Londoners (59%) say that the cost of living is among the most important in deciding how they will vote at the next election. This is a topic that Khan can only tangentially affect – as mayor he has influence over some transport costs like Tube prices and the ULEZ charge.

Second on the list of important issues is crime and policing (41%), followed by housing (34%).

It is perhaps a testament to how unpopular the Conservative party is that Khan’s lead is so high while expectations among Londoners are so negative on the issues they say are most important to them. Seven in ten Londoners (71%) expect the price of driving a car in London to increase if Khan is re-elected (including 43% who expect it to go up by a lot), and 62% expect tube fares to rise (24% by a lot).

Four in ten (39%) expect crime to rise under a third Khan term, compared to only 12% who expect it to fall, and just 33% expect that the amount of new affordable housing will increase under Khan – despite the mayor self-claiming “record-breaking” housing delivery.

Expectations of how things would change under Susan Hall are characterised as usual by large numbers of “don’t know” responses. However, given how hard the Conservatives have campaigned against the recent ULEZ changes and Khan’s so-called ‘war on the motorist’, the party will be very disappointed that only 18% of Londoners think the cost of driving a car in London would fall under their candidate – lower than the 28% who think it would rise. Even those intending to vote Conservative at the general election are split, with 40% expecting the cost to fall while 41% think it would rise or stay static.

Londoners divided on ULEZ expansion

Londoners are split on last year’s expansion of ULEZ, with 42% saying they support the change and 44% opposed. Inhabitants of inner and outer London take opposing views – the expansion is popular in inner London (55% support and 27% oppose) and unpopular in outer London, where the expansion took place (36% support and 53% oppose).

There is, however, plurality support for cancelling the ULEZ expansion, with 47% backing the reversion and 39% wanting to keep it in place. Again, inner and outer London residents stand on opposite sides of the argument.

See the full results here

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Photo: Getty