The weekly YouGov London poll for the Evening Standard shows the race for the London mayor elections now neck-and-neck, with Boris’s lead on the second round down to 2 points. First round voting intention figures, with changes from last week, are JOHNSON 43%(-2), LIVINGSTONE 41%(+1), PADDICK 8%(+1), WEBB 3%(nc), BENITA 3%(+1), JONES 2%(nc), CORTIGLIA (1%). Once second round preferences are re-allocated the figures are JOHNSON 51%, LIVINGSTONE 49%.
The changes are within the margin of error, so I’ll add my normal caveat about not reading too much into it. That said, if the narrowing is genuine, why might it be? Looking at the rest of the trackers, Ken really hasn’t made much progress since last week. The percentage of people thinking he did a good job as Mayor is down, the percentage thinking he did a better job than Boris is down, he is down across the board on the question about each candidates’s qualities. Most of the changes are not significant in themselves, but the increase in voting support isn’t mirrored by an increase in his other figures. My guess, therefore, is that the narrowing of the polls is Ken gaining from the rising national tide of Labour support and the coalition government’s troubles, rather than any improvement in the public’s perception of him personally.
On other questions in previous polls we saw that people were pretty divided over whether Ken would actually deliver on his pledge to reduce bus fares by 7%. This week YouGov asked the same question about Boris’s pledge to reduce council tax, and found similar levels of belief and disbelief – 39% think Boris probably would keep the pledge, 38% think he wouldn’t.
YouGov also asked whether people think Boris and Ken were the right candidates for their parties. Amongst Conservative votes 86% thought Boris was the right choice for the party, with 4% disagreeing. Amongst Labour voters 60% thought that Ken was the right choice, with 25% thinking he was not.
Finally to wrap up the tax story, YouGov asked if people thought the three main candidates had or had not paid as much tax as they should. 27% thought Boris had paid enough tax, 24% thought he hadn’t, 49% didn’t know. For Ken 18% thought he had paid enough tax, 39% thought he hadn’t, 43% didn’t know.
Firstly, note how high the don’t knows are – the row over tax was the biggest issue in the mayoral election for a couple of weeks, and yet over 40% of people don’t really know whether or not the candidates did pay the right amount of tax. Secondly, while Ken scores worse than Boris (the proportion of people thinking he didn’t pay his taxes is 15 points higher than Boris), Boris is not perceived as particularly clean either. Thirdly, even amongst people voting for Ken 27% of them think he hasn’t paid as much tax as he should… yet it’s clearly not something they care about enough to stop them voting for him.
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