London Mayor 2021: Two rather different polls both point to big win for Sadiq Khan

London Mayor 2021: Two rather different polls both point to big win for Sadiq Khan

Two new opinion polls, published yesterday, have found different levels of support for Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan but both point to a big win for him on 6 May – and a big defeat for Conservative Shaun Bailey.

One of the polls was by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, who surveyed 1,500 Londoners on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Their findings show Khan enjoying the first preference support of 47 per cent of Londoners compared with Bailey on 26 per cent, Liberal Democrat Luisa Porritt on nine per cent, Sian Berry of the Greens on six per cent, Women’s Equality Party (WEP) candidate Mandu Reid on four per cent and UKIP’s Peter Gammons on three per cent. It is the second time this year that Reid has reached four per cent and been ahead of Gammons.

Support for Khan is down by four per cent compared with Redfield & Wilton’s previous poll of early March, while Bailey’s is up by one. Khan’s lead is down from 26 points to 21. But that is still a huge advantage and consistent with the leads of at least 20 points found for Khan in every one of the nine polls, by three different companies, conducted since last March before the latest ones. Khan also enjoys slightly more second preference vote support than Bailey in this poll – 11 per cent compared 10 per cent – suggesting he would increase his winning lead to a resounding 22 points in a second “run-off” round of voting.

The other poll was by Savanta ComRes for ITV London News – their first on this year’s mayoral race. In contrast to Redfield & Wilton, who asked respondents about only the six candidates mentioned above, Savanta ComRes invited their panel of just over 1,000 what they thought about all 20 who will be on the ballot paper on 6 May.

Their findings, gathered between 13 and 19 April, are that Khan leads Bailey by 41 per cent to 28 per cent on first preference votes – a lead of 13 points, which is both commanding and significantly smaller than in every other mayoral poll so far. Like Redfield & Wilton, they have Porritt third, on a slightly lower eight per cent, and Berry fourth on the same six per cent level.

While encouraging for Bailey in the sense that it indicates he’s not as far behind Khan as before, the Savanta ComRes poll also points to no surge in support for Bailey himself. Just one of the 11 mayoral polls since March 2020 has seen him touch 30 per cent of first preference support, and that was back in November.

Only in the first two mayoral elections, in 2000 and 2004, has a Tory candidate won less than 30 per cent of first preferences, and in both of those cases support for the top three or four candidates was far more evenly spread. And the ComRes findings indicate a second round victory for Khan by 61 percent to 39, exactly the same 22 point margin as Redfield & Wilton’s poll suggests.

That would not be as big a win for Khan as his 31 point margin in 2016, when he got 44.2 per cent of first preference votes compared to Zac Goldsmith’s 35 per cent but devoured the lion’s share of second preference votes. It would, though, still be the second biggest winning margin in mayoral election history.

What accounts for the smaller Khan lead in the Savanta ComRes poll? It appears to be mostly be down to the five per cent recorded for YouTuber Niko Omilana, running as a prankster Independent. His support came, unsurprisingly, from the youngest age groups of voters – 19 to 24-year-olds in particular and also those between 25 and 34.

Khan is still the most popular among younger voters, but Omilana, who has no manifesto but a conspicuously low opinion of Boris Johnson, plainly tickles the fancy of a significant minority of them. Support for each of the other Independent or small party candidates rose no higher than two per cent, including Gammons of UKIP and Reid of WEP with one per cent each.

The significance of Omilana’s five per cent in the ComRes poll is hard to quantify. If he secures that share on election day he will retain his £10,000 deposit and be the most successful Independent to run for Mayor since Siobhan Benita, very much a serious hopeful, got 3.8 per cent in 2012.

It should be kept in mind that the usual three per cent margin for polling error applies, that younger people are less likely to turn out and that, as ever, too much should never be read into a single poll. However, there seems a good chance that the next one, from whichever company, will seek to measure how real and resilient support for Omilana is.

On London has produce an 80-page guide to the 2021 London Mayor and Assembly Elections, written by On London editor Dave Hill and elections expert Lewis Baston. Make a one-time donation of £6 to the website and a copy will soon be heading your way. Thank you.

Categories: Analysis

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