Two different kinds of must-win voters for Ken in London


11:10 am - March 26th 2012

by Leo Barasi    


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The latest London mayoral poll puts Boris on 54%: the largest lead for any candidate this year, suggesting a 3pt swing from Ken.

The change may just be random fluctuation: with London polls still only coming about once a month it’s hard to be sure. But it would also make sense that we’re seeing an impact from the accusations about Ken’s tax dealings, which broke before the poll was conducted.

Regardless of what’s caused any swing, the combined polls this year demonstrate two key issues that are determining how the race is working out.

Converting party supporters
Given that Labour’s vote is generally much stronger than the Tories’ in London – yet Boris and Ken are roughly level – it’s not surprising that Boris is doing better among his party’s supporters.

So, one problem for the Ken campaign is that it isn’t getting support from all Labour voters. In the latest poll, Ken is 10pts behind Boris among their own parties’ supporters. While this isn’t new, the gap seems to have widened this month:

Labour’s vote across the country has increased by several points since the March poll was taken. Given the closeness of the London race, this could make a crucial difference, but the lower conversion rate of Labour voters into Ken voters could reduce the benefit to the campaign if the same reluctance applies to ‘new’ Labour voters.

Winning other voters
There’s a striking difference in where each candidate’s support comes from. Despite Ken’s relative weakness among Labour voters, a much higher proportion of his voters are also Labour supporters than Boris’ voters are Tory supporters.

In fact, less than two thirds of Boris’ support comes from Tory voters, while five in six Ken voters are also Labour supporters.
The issue is that Boris is winning support outside his party base far more successfully than Ken is, and the latest poll puts this support at its highest point so far:

In itself, this isn’t a disaster for the Labour campaign. Ken could win with Labour voters and just a few other second choices.

This would be particularly true if the Labour vote increases from its current 46%: the lowest it’s been in London this year. But it also relies on Labour supporters voting for Ken in higher numbers than currently seems likely.

So the Ken campaign is facing problems on two fronts: both among Labour voters and among people who don’t support either candidate’s parties.

Because of Labour’s strength in London, the race is still very close despite these problems. As things stand, the Ken campaign only needs to improve a little among either group for a victory to become likely; Labour’s increased support since the budget may indeed already be making things even closer.


cross-posted from Noise of the Crowd

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About the author
Leo is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He manages communications for a small policy organisation, and writes about polling and info from public opinion surveys at Noise of the Crowd
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Reader comments


The analysis here is very interesting, but I’m not sure about the headline…

The two kinds of voters Ken must improve his performance with are “Labour voters” and “non-Labour voters”. Well, yes.

The electoral system for the mayoral race is basically cut-down AV. I thought the average UK citizen was too thick to understand how that worked or are we cleverer in London? Perhaps the idea that if no majority is reached in the 1st count the 2nd preference votes are counted ONLY should have been the system on offer last May.

So the Ken campaign is facing problems on two fronts: both among Labour voters and among people who don’t support either candidate’s parties.

It’s not doing brilliantly among Tory voters either… If Labour somehow contrive to lose the mayoral election mid-cycle with a Govt doing what this one is having to do, it will have been a spectacular achievement.

Is LC still backing Ken then?

I wonder if it would be had Ken made offensive and racist remarks about any other minority group, other than Jews of course. To think now of all that shit you wrote about piccanies, when Johnson now looks like Mandela in comparison to Ken.

Its ironic the wannabe Mayor of London is paid thousands of pounds to work for a tv station that denies the holocaust and said the green movement were killed by CIA/MOSSAD, not regime thugs.

Hope the money is worth it Ken, you piece of shit.

5. Shatterface

Given that Labour’s vote is generally much stronger than the Tories’ in London – yet Boris and Ken are roughly level – it’s not surprising that Boris is doing better among his party’s supporters.

I don’t see the link between the last part of that sentence and the first.

So, one problem for the Ken campaign is that it isn’t getting support from all Labour voters. In the latest poll, Ken is 10pts behind Boris among their own parties’ supporters. While this isn’t new, the gap seems to have widened this month:

Basically, in London the Labour Party is more popular than Livingstone. He really is fucked.

There’s a striking difference in where each candidate’s support comes from. Despite Ken’s relative weakness among Labour voters, a much higher proportion of his voters are also Labour supporters than Boris’ voters are Tory supporters.

Boris voters aren’t necessarily Boris supporters. Many just don’t want Livingstone.

Livingstone’s a liability. On top of his dodgy finances and his previous campaigns against Labour candidates, his instinctive communalism has repelled those who don’t identify with the communities he now serves.

Ken says he’s going to do his best ”to educate the mass of Londoners, who have no understanding of Islam other than what they read in their newspapers”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKNtZTUwrTc

Maybe people are just a bit tired of that patronising kind of stuff.

“I wonder if it would be had Ken made offensive and racist remarks about any other minority group, other than Jews of course. ”

When was this? The ‘rich Jews’ comment about how voting Labour is inversely proportional to wealth? That demographic and psephological analysis which ***all*** parties do openly or behind the scenes, not anti-semitism. It has often been stated byt the Conservatives that they wish to get high income Sikhs on side, on the same principle. To suggest there is anything racist here is ridiculous.

8. Shatterface

Have you got that demographic and psephological analysis to hand?

I’ll pass. I’m not commenting on the veracity of Ken’s viewpoint. Nor do I have a particular interest in these questions, which party strategists do indeed agonise over. I’m simply saying that they’re legitimate and are asked all the time.

Here is a recent article which addresses it: http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2012/03/conservative-party-and-ethnic-minority-voters.

Of course, when Ken does it, it’s wrong. Message understood.

Here is his repsonse, for the interested: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/mar/ken-livingstone-writer-wrong-snub-me-%E2%80%93-and-im-not-anti-semitic

Of course, had Ken crudely said ‘Jews are rich’ then he would be guilty of insensitivity and possibly antisemitism. But no-one says those were his words.

10. Imran Khan

I find this article a little puzzling as well. What should be of concern to Labour is that Livingstone is doing badly in a predominantly Labour city when they are either neck and neck or ahead of the Tories nationally.

There can be no doubt that he is a terrible candidate with a track record of blunders and is world class in losing friends and not influencing people. The Martin Bright documentary a few years ago should have alerted the Labour Party to his flaws but the statement by Freedman should be the nail in his coffin for anyone who professes any kind of socialist or liberal views.

His manifesto is a pack of lies that he simply cannot afford without bankrupting London. My fear is that if elected he will try to implement the manifesto not caring if London goes into administration because he will be nearly seventy by the time his last term is over.

We may see a twilight of the gods scenario with Livingstone being removed from office and future generations left with billions of pounds of debt as a result of his manic schemes.

11. Leon Wolfeson

@10 – Who is using the *entirety* of London’s borrowing capacity for vanity projects this year? Debt which will be a major drag in the future?

Oh, not Livingstone. While I can’t support him, Boris IS worse.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  6. Alex Braithwaite

    Two different kinds of must-win voters for Ken in London | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/SO7ldO8r via @libcon

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    Two different kinds of must-win voters for Ken in London | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/SO7ldO8r via @libcon

  8. Joseph Healy

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