Shaun Bailey narrows poll gap on Sadiq Khan in London mayoral race... but still has mountain to climb

Nicholas Cecil
·2-min read
Shaun Bailey, Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London (Getty Images)
Shaun Bailey, Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London (Getty Images)

Shaun Bailey has closed the gap on Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral race after Rory Stewart dropped out — but the Labour candidate is still set to win a second term by a landslide, according to a new poll.

The YouGov survey for Queen Mary University of London showed first round support for Tory contender Mr Bailey rising from 24 per cent in early March to 30 per cent in mid-November.

But Mr Khan has seen his backing in the initial round increase from 49 per cent to 51 per cent, meaning he could possibly gain a second term without the contest even going to a second round of counting.

If it did go to a further round, Mr Khan would win nearly twice as many second-choice votes than Mr Bailey (64 per cent to 36 per cent), according to the poll, giving him a comfortable victory.

Professor Tim Bale, of the Mile End Institute, Queen Mary University of London, told the Standard: “Even if Sadiq Khan doesn’t pull off a first-round win — which is fairly unlikely even with the lead he has at the moment — Shaun Bailey would have to make up an awful lot of ground before he’d stand even a slim chance of a surprise victory next year.

"It looks as if the Mayor is sitting pretty.”

The poll of Londoners comes after independent candidate Mr Stewart, a former Conservative Cabinet minister, pulled out in May after the election was delayed due to Covid-19, saying he could not ask his army of unpaid volunteers to continue for another year.

The Mayor is elected by the supplementary vote system, with each voter having a first and second choice vote.

If a candidate gets more than half of all the first-choice votes, he or she is elected. Should this not happen, the two candidates with the most first-choice votes go through to a second round, with all other candidates being eliminated. The second-choice votes of everyone whose first choice has been eliminated are then counted.

Any votes for the remaining two candidates are added to their first-round totals and the candidate with the highest combined total of first and second choice votes wins.

If the mayoral contest went to the second round, Mr Bailey would gain 36 per cent of second-choice votes, compared to 33 per cent in the spring, according to the survey.

However, Mr Khan would still get far more, on 64 per cent, compared to 67 per cent in March.

Green candidate Sian Berry is the most popular choice for second preferences, but she is so far behind in first-choice votes, just nine per cent, that she has hardly any chance of making the run-off.

The YouGov/QMUL survey interviewed 1,048 adults in London between Nov 16 and 19. Data weighted.

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