After months of YouGov polls suggesting a Sadiq Khan mayoral bid would gift the Tories a third term at City Hall, and surveys by Labourlist suggesting members and activists prefer Tessa Jowell, the Tooting MP finally has some polling he can be pleased with.
A candidate only needs 50.01% of first round votes to win the Mayoralty so, understandably, Team Khan are VERY excited.
But while it pains me to prick their bubble, there are a couple of reasons why it might a good idea to remain slightly sceptical:
- No other polling that comes to mind has shown Sadiq capable of beating Zac
- Neither Ken nor Boris – two huge, giant, political beasts – won on the first round. It’s hard to see how Sadiq, who Survation say is only known by 58% of Londoners, could achieve such a result
- There are some curiosities about the way the poll was conducted – Zac and Sadiq were named to respondents who were also shown videos of the two but this doesn’t seem to be true of other parties’ potential candidates. It’s possible that showing, for example, a video of Caroline Pidgeon would have increased the Liberal Democrat vote. So this is not an equal measurement of support.This matters because increases in smaller parties’ vote shares could well come at the expense of the bigger two, especially in the context of a real election where people know they have a second vote and don’t need to make a forced choice between Labour and the Tories
- Survation tell me they didn’t poll on second preferences so, combined with the seemingly unequal polling of the parties, we don’t really know how the votes would split next May. It’s possible that a decent Green and / or LibDem candidate could draw support from Sadiq and Zac in the first round at which point the second preferences and how they get cast would be key in securing victory
- Because Survation didn’t poll how other Labour hopefuls – two of whom are far better known than Sadiq – would do against Zac we don’t know if he remains less popular than Tessa Jowell and how he compares against Diane Abbott or David Lammy. Some people might have liked them more
The poll seems to have excited and cheered Sadiq and his team and will surely help re-energise his army of helpers as they call up party members and registered supporters over the next few weeks to request their support.
You can be fairly certain they’ll be mentioning the poll to those polite enough to pick up, and that they’ll probably not detain them by setting out the reasons why it might not be entirely accurate.
But at least they’re happy and optimistic – sentiments which some whispers suggest haven’t always been on display at Khan HQ in recent weeks.