Boris takes four-point lead over Ken as London elections loom
Evening Standard poll shows Conservative incumbent in the box seat - but turnout will be key
BORIS JOHNSON is on course to defy a national mood that has turned sharply against the Coalition in recent weeks and remain as London mayor after Thursday's elections, according to a YouGov poll in today's Evening Standard.
Conservative Boris leads Labour candidate Ken Livingstone by 52-48 in a second round run-off. The blonde one is predicted to take 44 per cent in the first round vote, three points higher than Ken.
Despite last week's GDP figures showing the country is now in the throes of a double-dip recession, the poll shows Boris is seen as better placed to lead London through the economic morass by 28-23.
Johnson is also ahead of his rival on crime, with transport the only area where Ken is in the lead. The former mayor is seen by 38-25 per cent to better understand the needs of commuters.
London politics expert Tony Travers told the Standard: "It's still too close to call. The race really isn't over yet. This result suits both teams because each candidate needs to get their vote out. But Boris is still way ahead on likeability. This suggests it is an election between Boris and Ken – not the Conservatives and Labour."
Mike Smithson, the respected editor of the politicalbetting.com blog, agrees that the race isn't yet over for Ken. He asks today whether the Labour candidate isn't "still in with a shout" and calls the first round result from YouGov a statistical dead-heat.
However, one person whom Ken can't rely on for their vote is Daily Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges, who today joined the ranks of other left-leaning types such as Jonathan Freedland in ruling out voting for Livingstone.
Hodges, a self-described "Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest", describes Livingstone's mayoral campaign as a "disgrace" and claims his remarks about the Jewish community "would have resulted in immediate suspension and expulsion" from the party if they had been made by any other Labour member.
"We've held our noses and voted for Ken again and again and again," Hodges concludes. "Not this time. On Thursday hold your nose, and vote for Boris Johnson."