Labour’s ghastly mistake in choosing Ken Livingstone as its mayoral candidate was again underlined in the latest YouGov London poll yesterday. Since the last one, Labour has widened its London lead over the Tories, for a Westminster election, from 16 to 19 points. But in the mayoral race, Boris is seven points ahead on first-preference votes, the biggest lead he has yet scored with the pollster.
Ken has been on the stump for nine months now. By polling day, his campaign for this middle-ranking municipal office will have lasted longer than a US presidential election. But the more people see of him, bloviating about the genocidal Boris Johnson regime, the further backwards he seems to go. His share has actually fallen by 3 points since he started campaigning.
Here are the trends in the YouGov polling series.
Fieldwork Lab Con Lab lead
6-8 Oct 2010 42 38 +4
8-10 Feb 2011 50 34 +16
7-9 Jun 2011 51 32 +19
Fieldwork Boris Ken Boris lead (lead after 2nd prefs*)
6-8 Oct 2010 48 44 +4 (Boris + 7)
8-10 Feb 2011 43 45 -2 (Boris + 3)
7-9 Jun 2011 48 41 +7 (Boris + 8)
*The result of a “forced choice” question – “if you had to choose, which of Boris or Ken would you prefer” – aiming to measure people’s second-preferences.
Even the number of don’t knows, in the forced-choice question, has steadily diminished, suggesting that people are making up their minds. The Lib Dem candidate is yet to declare, but one of the key reasons Boris is ahead is that the Lib Dem vote is breaking for him.
The only slight crumbs of comfort for Ken are two. First, the Evening Standard, which I think commissioned the poll, didn’t even mention it in its print edition which I saw yesterday. The Standard wants to be nice to everyone, even poor old Ken, these days. Second, Boris’s people think the race is closer than this poll says.
I’ve said from the beginning that I think a Ken victory is very unlikely. But I don’t think it’s impossible – I’ll explain why later on.