London Mayor 2024: Men like Susan, women like Sadiq

London Mayor 2024: Men like Susan, women like Sadiq

London is yet to have a woman as its Mayor and if Conservative candidate Susan Hall changes that on 2 May, it won’t be because London women have rallied round her. That, at least, is what the details of recent opinion polls suggest.

If we look at the voting intention part of Redfield and Wilton’s recent London survey, derived from the same fieldwork that produced a wealth of other findings for On London, the breakdown of candidate preferences by sex shows that more women than men plan to vote for Labour’s Sadiq Khan and that the reverse is true of Hall: 46 per cent of female respondents chose the Labour guy compared with 40 per cent of the males, while the Tory gal was preferred by 27 per cent of the women compared with 34 per cent of the men.

The same sort of split was found by Savanta’s poll, published on 12 April, the day after Redfield and Wilton’s voting intention findings appeared. In its case, 53 per cent of the women who took part in the poll said they intend to vote for Khan compared with 47 per cent of the men. And with Hall, the respective figures were 24 and 28 per cent – again, more men than women thought her the best candidate.

Go back to a little earlier this month and Survation’s poll for ITV London told the same story: Khan preferred by 46 per cent of the women polled and 42.5 per cent of the men, Hall preferred by 24 per cent of the women and 29 per cent of the men.

This quite marked differential between support for the two frontrunners, with the man receiving a greater proportion of support from women and the woman receiving a larger proportion from men, is particularly intriguing given that one of the most prominent themes of the campaign has been the safety of women and girls on London’s streets.

Hall and Khan have been striving to outbid each other on the issue, with Hall vowing to tackle it, including by appointing a “women’s champion” to target sexual harassment on the Tube, and Khan today announcing a ten-point plan to address the problem of violence against women. Interestingly, Hall’s campaign seems to have forsaken attempts she made last year to depict Khan as a misogynist, including with a selectively edited video of him interacting with female London Assembly members at City Hall.

The polls show comparable splits in male and female candidate preferences further down the field. For example, the Green candidate Zoë Garbett has been preferred by more women than men in all three examined here, while the reverse has been the case with Reform UK’s Howard Cox. Liberal Democrat Rob Blackie has, overall, come out roughly even.

What explains Garbett’s greater support among fellow women than among men, while the balance of support between the sexes for one particular fellow woman, Susan Hall, is the other way round? Is it about policies, personalities or perceptions of the two female candidates’ respective parties? Is the explanation a mixture of all those things and others? And why, relatively speaking, do men like Susan and women like Sadiq?

Whatever the answer, if Hall hopes to overhaul Khan, who so far has been enjoying large opinion poll leads, she will need to start appealing to more Londoners of her own sex. And with election day only a fortnight away, she doesn’t have a lot of time.

Image from ITV London’s televised debate between the top four candidates held last night.

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Categories: Analysis

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