The front page of the Evening Standard today has as a big headline of “Boris to be Mayor Again”. It is a rather brave conclusion based on this ComRes poll.

Even being generous, it isn’t really a voting intention poll – it’s asking who people’s favoured candidate would be out of Boris, Ken and Oona King, with Boris in a healthy first place.

Naturally this did not include a Liberal Democrat candidate, not candidates from other parties, but that’s acceptable given that the London Mayoral election is conducted under a preferential system and the final run off will almost certainly be between Boris and the Labour candidate. Including Ken and Oona King is rather odd though, given it splits Labour support between two candidates – it might have been better to do two run off questions. Still, in this case it thankfully does not give a misleading result, since even if you add Ken and Oona King’s preferences together Boris would still be more popular than them.

There are further question marks here though. Over on Liberal Conspiracy Don Paskini raises some sensible points about question order. Voting intention questions are nearly always asked first in an opinion poll, and certainly any questions that risk skewing answers are avoided. In this poll people appear to have been asked whether they agreed with Boris that it should be made harder to strike on the underground, and that London should be protected from cuts… then asked who was their favourite candidate (I should add that Don’s allegation that the poll was deliberately skewed to help Boris is almost certainly nonsense. No professional pollster would do such a thing – we have some integrity you know.)

Meanwhile Mike Smithson on Political Betting points out that the poll does not appear to have been politically weighted. ComRes always weight their voting intention polls, but sometimes don’t do it on other polls, where they claim it doesn’t make much difference. Even if Mike’s correct, it’s unclear what difference this would have made – political weighting of phone polls helps the Conservatives, but this was conducted online. In ComRes’s previous published online poll political weighting helped Labour.

So, what is the actual position? Well, the last actual mayoral voting intention question I can find is over a year old from YouGov in April 2009, which found in a re-run Boris would beat Ken by 49% to 33%. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but despite all the question marks mentioned above it would be churlish to say this poll isn’t pretty positive for Boris. However, I wouldn’t be confident enough to treat it as a voting intention poll. Nor would I conclude that Boris is set to be mayor again when there is a year and a half of campaigning and massive government cuts to come before any actual votes are cast.

UPDATE: YouGov’s daily GB voting intention figures for tonight are CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%


61 Responses to “Is Boris ahead in London?”

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  1. @Eoin
    I have not posted for some time,I don’t often anyway,but this a subject very close to my heart.With 3 student nephews and nieces inlaw.None of whom can get a job and all who wish they never bothered to go to University as the likelyhood of them ever getting a job which relates to their course degree was always going to be slim.I am angry at the previous government’s policy which although had the right ideals of education for all ,was just not practical .Around 40 percent never even finish their course.They leave with no hope of a job and huge debts.It is almost as if the policy was to use university as a holding pen just to delay young people becoming jobless.We are now with record youth unemployment in danger of losing a whole generation of young people to permanent poverty.Using targets of getting 50 percent of people to Uni was ill advised and more should have been done and still must be done for vocational education to get young people proper skilss for the jobs we will have not the jobs we wish we could have.These people are our future pension payers and using cheap foreign labour to fill other vacancies is left by Uk students who now can’t even get these jobs will also make things harder.Something must be done quickly

  2. @ Tonyotim

    There are a few wards which buck the trend, but the trend’s definitely there. In the Exeter and Norwich wards combined, the Lib Dems only managed to improve their vote in one ward – a ward where Labour didn’t stand, funnily enough.

    Now I wouldn’t suggest it is anywhere near as dramatic as the one DavidB opportunistically pointed out as ‘interesting’, and they may not be THAT indicative, since Labour done well in the council elections at the same time as losing the general election, but I think suggesting there’s nothing up with the results seems to me a classic case of the head in sand.

  3. @Woodsman

    I think the reason NC is downplaying the import of AV is to put across the message that if anyone thinks a No vote will result in the Lib Dems taking their ball home, they’d better think again. In other words, putting the boot in in an attempt to finish off the coalition won’t work.

    The problem as you rightly point out is that it doesn’t exactly help the AV campaign.

  4. @ Tonyotim

    There are a few wards which buck the trend, but the trend’s definitely there. In the Exeter and Norwich wards combined, the Lib Dems only managed to improve their vote in one ward – a ward where Labour didn’t stand, funnily enough.

    Now I wouldn’t suggest it is anywhere near as dramatic as the one DavidB opportunistically pointed out as ‘interesting’, and they may not be THAT indicative, since Labour done well in the council elections at the same time as losing the general election, but I think suggesting there’s nothing up with the results seems to me a classic case of the head in sand.

    I did not mention earlier that Tonyotim picked out the best result for the Lib Dems, a real outlier. I could have listed 25 seats where the LDs lost 5% + in vote share, or 10 with a loss of 10%+, or the 32 which lost voting share.

    To put such results down to ‘hard to tell’ and uncertain comes from a Lib Dem perspective of the glass being half full you could say.

  5. @Craig

    I’m not denying that there’s a pattern, I’m just cautioning against reading to much into it, for any number of reasons, not least being the sets of local elections that these are compared to were fairly abysmal for Labour – if they weren’t making steps forward from those results there would be something wrong. As i said above, the difference in turn-out makes swing a rather misleading thing to mention. It could just be (and is at least partly the case) that Lib Dem voters just aren’t bothered to go out and vote in areas where they are not in contention, rather than turning to Labour in large numbers.

    Yes, Lib-Dem votes are down, but since the general election they’ve gained more seats than they’ve lost. I expect Nick Clegg would take that as an outcome for the next general election. ;-)

  6. TonyOTim,

    I wasn’t being funny, honest. I understand your point.

    I have been there a few years ago with Labour, and if I was a Lib Dem supporter, I would not be looking for much good news from local elections for sometime to come. Come next May’s election, I would have a stiff drink, sat down, when the results start to come in.

    As I have posted previously, the concern for any party is that losing Councillors is demoralising, and bleeds strength from grass roots campaigning in the long run. It takes years, but getting those members and supporters out to leaflet and canvas gets harder and harder.

    Anyway, my comments are just personal thoughts, I mean to offend no-one. It’s nice to have a civilised exchange of views :-)

  7. …also I expect the results in May to be mixed. LDs may well do OK in the South, SE. That be against losses in the North, Wales and Scotland at a guess.

    I can imagine living in a starkly divided nation (politically speaking) in five years times.

  8. @Garry K

    No offence, and I’m not a Lib – although I have some sympathies for them and feel they are getting a rougher deal in the press and on here than they actually deserve at the moment.

    I also don’t think they’ve been doing that badly in the areas where they were actually in contention (with the exception of Norwich, which was dreadful for them, although the one area that was quite good for the Greens (which pleases me). Which is possibly a sign that they are losing most support where they’re not in contention anyway, which won’t be too disastrous for them. But as I’ve said, % swings on such low turn-outs can give an exaggerated picture.

  9. @Garry

    “…also I expect the results in May to be mixed. LDs may well do OK in the South, SE. That be against losses in the North, Wales and Scotland at a guess.”

    I’d agree with you in terms of the North south divide within England. I think with regard to the Scottish parliament, they are defending a very low regional list vote anyway and most of their FPTP seats are actually challenged by either SNP or Tory who are also falling back in the polls. I would expect them to lose Dunfermline and Edinburgh Central (notional) but maybe pick up one on one of the regional lists and finishe pretty much where they started off.

  10. MichaelB,

    I understand fully that it hurts. i agree with you entirely. Ed Balls has policies which woudl go a little way to fixing this. But time is running out for those such as three nephews you mention.

  11. Tony O,

    could Londoner perhaps study from home and attend Uni? Might that explain it?

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