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Will London’s Labour voters give Boris a second term?

November 28th, 2011

Has the red team got the wrong candidate?

The chart shows the trend in Betfair prices in next May’s battle for the mayor of London in which Ken will be trying to win his old job back.

I write “trend” which in this case means no real movement. Apart from a little drop for Boris six weeks ago from which he quickly recovered the figures have remained remarkably consistent. Punters rate this as a 65-35 battle.

Given how much stronger Labour is nationally than last time you would expect Ken to be in much better position and EdM could be looking for another big trophy for his party next May.

But there’s nothing so far to suggest that Boris is vulnerable and this could take the gloss of what should be a good set of local elections for Labour.

The problem is that in spite of all the dire warnings 4 years ago (remember the great Guardian onslaught) Boris is popular even amongst many Labour voters. This is one of those elections where the individual is more important than the party affiliation.

The latest YouGov poll last week has Boris with an overall 8 point lead. To a forced choice “Boris or Ken” question a nearly quarter of Labour’s general elections voters who expressed a view said they’s go with the Tory.

If you can’t even get party supporters to back your candidate then, surely, your task is hopeless?

Ken shouldn’t be surprised by this dynamic because the last time he was elected, in 2004, many Tory voters in the capital switched to him for mayor.

My strong view is Labour would have been in a better position with a different candidate – one without baggage and with a fresher vision for the capital.

UPDATE: New ComRes London poll has Boris 8% ahead

There’s a new ComRes poll out for the Evening Standard which has Boris with a similar lead over Ken as in last week’s YouGov poll.

Unlike YouGov the ComRes findings are turnout weighted and the final shares of those giving 1st or 2nd prefs to Boris or Ken are 54:46.

The poll detail shows the same effect as described above of a signficant slab of Labour voters supporting the Tory.

Men seem to be backing Boris more than women. With the former the split is 57-43 while the latter shows 51-49.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonPB