Highly political polling

That mention of Boris Johnson in the previous post reminds Malcolm he hasn’t paid proper attention to the London Evening Standard‘s poll, published on Monday of this week. Perhaps no attention is precisely how much this bit of puffery deserved.

Obviously nothing of import had happened among the Great Wen’s 7-and-a-half million denizens over the weekend, so the Standard‘s front page was a shriek of delight for the cult of celebrity:

Four more years of Boris Johnson, says poll

London will be run by Boris Johnson for another four years, according to an exclusive Evening Standard poll.

The Mayor is eight points ahead of his rival Ken Livingstone – but is in danger of losing tens of thousands of votes because of his Tube, bus and rail policies.

An election held today would see Mr Johnson remain in City Hall with 54 per cent of the vote.

Well, if one really, really needed an example of lies, damn lies and statistics, here we have it in cold print. But, after all, this comes from the well-known Evening Boris (© Dave Hill) cheat-sheet.

First up, five months before a single vote is cast, the use of the definite London will be run by Boris Johnson for another four years seems to jump the gun somewhat. Admittedly, later in the article sanity prevails and we slip into the conditional mood with “may be”. Bookies have always waxed fat on such assertions.

Second, no candidate will be getting 54 per cent of the vote, at least not on first preferences. That exposes the obvious fallacy of the exercise. Repondents were offered just two choices: Johnson or Livingstone. Only in the very last question, on preferences over a number of topics, was it recognised that there would be other candidates — and the only one admitted even at this late stage of the game-of-kicks-and-ha’pence was Brain Paddick for the LibDems.

Now there’s a thought in itself: how will the LibDem campaign — and Paddick is no Yes-man — differentiate itself from the ConDem coalition? That could be very interesting.

Moreover, there will certainly be many more candidates than just these three — last time, in 2008, there were ten — and it is trite to assume that the Greens (3.2% first preferences in 2008), the BNP (2.8%) and UKIP (not quite 1%) won’t be up for it. Plus, the Green Party are putting up Jenny Jones — who, despite a popular recognition problem not wholly dissociated from the Standard’s lack of any proper coverage of Assembly matters — has been as effective a member of the Assembly as any.

In point of fact, in 2008 BoJo had 42.5% of first preferences — which still gave him the highest poll ever achieved by any UK politician.

Next May it’ll all come down to the transfer of second preferences.

So, here’s a task for the Evening Boris in any future polling: track those preferences.

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Filed under Boris Johnson, Elections, Green Party, Lib Dems, London, politics, polls, Tories.

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