Making sense of the different predictions
Firstly a declaration of financial interest: As I reported on Wednesday I was underwhelmed by Boris in the Tuesday Newsnight debate and closed almost all my positions on him for the London mayoralty by 9am of that day, pocketed nearly Â£1000 from my spread bets, booked a holiday, and took out all the stake money I had on him with Betfair. The balance of my trading profits on the latter is split between Boris and Ken and I make Â£388 if it is the Tory and Â£514 if it is Livingstone.
I will be going in again as we get closer to May 1st and will probably be influenced by future YouGov surveys more than the other firms. It was the only firm to carry out regular surveys last time and its final shares which are directly comparable with the 2008 surveys were Ken 55% to Norris’s 45%. This understated the winning margin by less than one point and was an impressive performance.
All the others pollsters that have covered previous mayoral elections have overstated the Livingstone shares by considerable amounts. I won’t embarrass them by reiterating the figures but the record is not good.
The next polls from YouGov could be critical and my guess, given the way the campaign is progressing, is that it will be suggesting a much smaller Boris lead than the 13% that we had on Monday
Last week’s ICM poll found an equal number of Boris and Ken supporters but six out of ten of those backing the former said they were “certain to vote” against five out of ten for the latter.
The MORI figures on Wednesday were based on the 48% who told the pollster that they were “certains” which compares with the turnouts in 2000 and 2004 of 34-37%. Looking at the details there’s strong evidence that the lower the turnout the better it is for the Tories.
As an aside I am impressed by the non-judgemental way that ICM handles the turnout issue. Getting an accurate answer is crucial and there’s always a risk that people will respond in a way that shows they are good citizens and not what they intend to do. The first ICM question is “Elections for the Mayor of London will be held on 1st May. Many people we have spoken to have said they will NOT vote while others have said they WILL vote. Can you tell me how certain it is that you will vote?”
My understanding is that we might see at least one mayoral poll in the Sunday papers and this could include a survey from a firm that doesn’t do regular voting intention polls in the UK. Let’s hope that it is a member of the British Polling Council and follows its transparency requirements. If its not I won’t give it much credence.