Tuesday’s YouGov poll contains mixed messages for Sadiq Khan after seven years at City Hall.
In terms of the question “do you view individual politicians favourably or unfavourably”, he has a -12 per cent rating (that is, more people view him unfavourably than favourably).
His Conservative opponent, Susan Hall, has a net “favourable” rating of +1, though 57 per cent of Londoners “don’t know” — suggesting a majority have not yet heard of her. The Conservatives will need to act on this problem if she is to have a chance. The Mayor is more popular than Rishi Sunak (-38 per cent) though less so than Sir Keir Starmer (-4 per cent).
YouGov asked another question in a recent poll about whether Mr Khan “is doing well or badly as Mayor”. From 2017 to 2021, he had continuous — if declining — ratings showing he was perceived by a majority of Londoners as doing “well”. However, in January 2022, “badly” overtook “well” by 48 per cent to 38 per cent. An April 2023 poll showed a 50 to 35 margin, which was not good news for City Hall.
The new research shows Mr Khan is preferred by inner London voters (47 per cent favourable to 42 per cent unfavourable, net +5) but viewed “unfavourably” in the outer boroughs (58 per cent unfavourable to 34 per cent favourable, net -24). He is far more likely to be seen as “favourable” by younger voters than older ones, being most liked by 25 to 49-year-olds. But among lower-income social groups, he is viewed far more unfavourably than favourably (59 per cent to 30 per cent, net -29).
Over 60 per cent of London’s population live in the outer boroughs, meaning that for both the mayoral and assembly elections, the YouGov results probably imply a tighter London race in 2024 than national polling, with Labour typically 15 to 20 per cent ahead of the Conservatives, currently suggests.
As in 2021, the Conservatives will concentrate on winning additional voters in outer boroughs, particularly among the over-50s and lower-income households. Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate in that election, won over a significant number of minority voters in outer boroughs. Mr Khan will be hoping any Ulez effect will disappear once the system is operational next week.
Boroughs such as Hillingdon, Harrow, Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Havering and Croydon look to be where the 2024 mayoral election will be won or lost.
Professor Tony Travers is director of LSE London