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Is voting certainty at the heart of the battle for London?

April 27th, 2008


    New pollster MRUK has Ken just 1% ahead

With just five days to go before the London elections the new pollster, MRUK, has produced for the Sunday Times what we assume is its final survey and it shows the following first preference split with changes on last week – JOHNSON 43%(-1): LIVINGSTONE 44%(-1): PADDICK 9%(nc). After second preferences MRUK make it 51% to 49% for Ken.

So the Ken first preference figure is dramatically up on the 36.9% that he got in 2004 against much weaker Tory opposition when Labour was leading in most national polls. Ken will continue to perform better than his party but how how much better?

I do not think MRUK asked whether respondents were registered to vote. When MORI did this only 92% of their sample said yes. When that was factored in the firm’s Ken lead amongst those certain to vote was reduced from 6% to 3%. Would the same have applied with MRUK?

The firm, which is applying for membership of the British Polling Council, does operate past vote weighting so, unlike MORI, seeks to ensure a politically, rather than just a demographically, balanced sample. They do not prompt by party or the names of the leading candidates which is probably why the firm is showing the smallest share for Paddick.

But the real decider might be how they have handled the turnout question. The responses of those who said they were 80% certain and more were included in the final numbers and last week that amounted to 75% of the sample. In the 2004 election the turnout was 36.95%.

Unlike ICM both MORI and MRUK ask the certainty question after they have dealt with voting intention – something which might affect the figures. I have asked MORI about this and will be dealing with it in more detail in a later post.

So we all wait for the internet pollster YouGov. What will its final numbers show? Will Boris still have a reasonable margin? Who is your money on in the polling battle of London?

The mayoral betting has moved to Ken in the past 36 hours and Boris’s price is now at 0.73/1.

  • MORI note. There has been some confusion over the firm’s figures because coverage of its UNISON funded survey has mostly focussed on the shares which included those not registered to vote. The firm should have announced only the registered voter shares. As a consequence the MORI performance at this election might end up being judged on their 6% Ken lead.
  • London Mayoral prediction competition. Paul Maggs is devising one which should be up from about 5pm today.
  • Mike Smithson






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