April 03, 2008

London Mayoral Election

In respense to several requests I’ve deided to hand an entry over to the London Mayoral election. See here for details of polling figures I refer to.

ICM are normally about 1-3% left of yougov, so I would have expected Johnson to be about 7-8% ahead, not 2% compared to the existing yougov polling. So there’s likely a methodology difference. ICM polling focussed on ensuring their survey had a weight average of ethnic minorities at the same level as their percentage of the London population. This is according to their announcement, and with reference to Livingston’s apparent criticism of the yougov polling.

Judging from the yougov blog they seemed to focus more on socio-economic groupings when trying to make their surveys representative, but this stuff tends to be quite hazy – polling isn’t as scientific as it ought to be. Furthermore historically ethnic minorities have poor turnout rates, so choosing the percentage of population is highly likely to overestimate their impact. So verdict is still out on which poll is more representative. Bear in mind the ipsos/mori polling from about a month and a half ago had Livingston ahead, but that was labour party funded and looking pretty out of date now.

Boris fell by 2% between the last two yougov polls, but this is within the margin of error of the poll, so can’t really be considered a trend without supporting evidence (comparing with ICM would be particularly flawed, since they are using a different methodology for deciding who to survey). Quantitative evidence seems to suggest that Boris is ahead, but by an indeterminate amount. A few points to consider:

1. Boris has a large financial advantage, according to both sides – he claims to be aiming at raising £1 million. This will come into play more as the campaign continues. Since I doubt either side is spending much at the moment (since the campaign is really only just started) it probably isn’t in the numbers already.
2. Large blatantly don’t know how to attack Johnson. First they tried calling him a racist then a right wing clown. The racism charge was never going to stick, and Johnson seems to have made a significant effort to behave in a more serious manner in the run up to this campaign. As incumbent Livingston has the massive advantage that he can do things, where as Johnson merely has to say them, therefore by allowing this to become a personality race Livingston gives away his big advantage and plays into Johnsons. When he first came to office he pushed the congestion charge as a radical policy, that both polarised debate and pushed popular voting his way. In order to make a comback in this race he needs another ‘big idea’. No new bendy buses and increasing congestion charges just won’t do.
3. I imagine given their traditional strength in London that the Labour party would have much more ‘on the ground’ support. This is hard to quantify, however and highly personality dependant. Frequently heavy in your face campaigning turns people off, whilst a personal chat from a respected neighbour might be the best campaigning method.
4. Location of votes – Livingston will dominate central London, whilst Johnson takes the suburbs – this seems to be so strong that even amongst informal conversation with people I know, people living in West London seem to support Johnson, and more central/city centre support Livingston.
5. According to the labour website tag cloud they seem to be really interested in Boris Johnson, he has more tags (41) than Alan Johnson (29), Alistair Darling (7), David Miliband (13), Harriet Harman (24), Hazel Blears (32) and Hilary Benn (37). I bring this up as interesting, rather more than informative and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

My guess is that Boris’ lead is reasonably strong, but overturnable, so in summary – he’ll win if he doesn’t stick his foot in his mouth or if Livingston doesn’t pull anything out of the hat.


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  1. The rest of the country will be much amused if Boris wins. Both by him and by the looks on Londoners’ faces when they realise what they have done!

    03 Apr 2008, 19:37

  2. The rest of the country will be much amused if Boris wins. Both by him and by the looks on Londoners’ faces when they realise what they have done!

    I’m desperately hoping they won’t; I don’t think I could face the four years of humiliation of a Boris mayoralty. All the cretinous, totally unrealistic pronouncements about Routemasters and bendy buses and the inevitable slew of questionable comments about various parts of the London community will be a nightmare.

    04 Apr 2008, 00:05

  3. Is that before or after he makes a complete hash of the 2012 preparations? I ain’t wishing him on the nice Londoners, but there’s an industrial sized bucket of schadenfruede in the fridge if people forget what the Tories have a tendency to do…

    Mind you, as a result of this contest I’ve now got an answer to a question I’ve long pondered – does Livingstone have sprogs. Five’s a nice round number. Does anyone really care otherwise?

    05 Apr 2008, 00:56

  4. Is that before or after he makes a complete hash of the 2012 preparations? I ain’t wishing him on the nice Londoners, but there’s an industrial sized bucket of schadenfruede in the fridge if people forget what the Tories have a tendency to do…

    Personally I couldn’t care less about 2012; I never wanted the games to be in London in the first place. It’d also not really likely that he’d be able to affect the preparations materially anyway.

    05 Apr 2008, 12:43

  5. TV Blog

    go boris! its definately time for a change, the current guy is getting too complacent.

    05 Apr 2008, 20:09

  6. I’ve just been reading some stuff on Boris and I’ve come across a few more things which concern me, not least his homophobia (which seems more tangible than the charges of racism) and comments about wanting an end to paid maternity and paternity, the minimum wage and even holiday entitlement for workers.

    Seriously, what century is this? I think if he did get elected he might end up causing Cameron more harm than good.

    08 Apr 2008, 13:53

  7. Seriously, what century is this? I think if he did get elected he might end up causing Cameron more harm than good.

    That’s what I think too. I’ve been wondering why they’re plumping so hard for Boris when if he gets in, he could severely screw up the Tories’ chances of gaining seats in London at the next General Election. If I were them I’d have stuck to shagger Norris and accepted the inevitable consequent defeat.

    08 Apr 2008, 13:58

  8. we love Boris Johnson

    08 Apr 2008, 21:35

  9. As I Londoner from the suburbs, I can really see Boris beating Ken. I am yet to make the decision if this is a good or a bad thing.

    11 Apr 2008, 20:21

  10. I’ve heard, and correct me if I’m wrong, that Boris has a plan to price council tax by region based on house prices thus making certain areas prohibitively expensive, widening the gap between rich and poor and encouraging ghettoism. That’d be a bad move if it were the case.
    Personally I don’t think he’s up for the job. Ken has been controvercial but on the whole a good thing, his stewardship of London has maintained it’s position as a world leading city through some hard times and he appears to have some good ideas on how to keep it so in the future. That’s my 2 cents anyway.

    13 Apr 2008, 12:06

  11. Can someone tell me – and I genuinely do want to know, it is a mystery to me – why anyone, anyone at all, would actually vote for Boris Johnson? Aside from anything he actually thinks and proposes, surely he’s got the most ridiculous reputation of any mainstream modern politician in the UK… Is this my sheltered liberal upbringing coming back to haunt me again, or am I right in saying he’s generally considered to be something of a national joke, and a liability for the Tories?

    14 Apr 2008, 23:07

  12. Michael Jones

    Well, I suppose at least he speaks his mind, unlike most politicians… although, given what’s usually on his mind, that’s more likely to dissuade people than persuade them.

    16 Apr 2008, 20:55

  13. I like Michael Jones’ response a lot. Basically, he is honest. Honestly bad.

    17 Apr 2008, 14:09

  14. Vote Amnesia!

    20 Apr 2008, 13:08

  15. Vote for Paddick! And definitely not Ken or Boris. http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/daisychristodoulou/entry/ken_livingstone/

    20 Apr 2008, 16:27

  16. Richard:

    As incumbent Livingston has the massive advantage that he can do things, where as Johnson merely has to say them,

    I think you have that a little mixed-up. Ken can certainly do things and he has shown himself more than capable but with doing comes the ability to piss a lot of people off (e.g. with the congestion charge) and if he doesn’t know his stuff, he’s stuffed. Boris however, can promise whatever the hell he likes (and routinely does) without knowing a bloody thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRRYDVaXdaA -—> with very little political blowback (that video should be enough for Londoners who are stupid enough to vote for Boris to think twice).

    Matt:

    As I Londoner from the suburbs, I can really see Boris beating Ken. I am yet to make the decision if this is a good or a bad thing.

    As a Londoner from the suburbs I sincerely hope there aren’t enough stupid people in this damned city to vote in Boris.

    Vote for Paddick!

    I’m a member of the Lib Dems and I’d probably vote Boris before I would Paddick.

    21 Apr 2008, 22:04


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