Poll: Ken chipping away at Boris lead

By Peter Wozniak

Ken Livingston and Boris Johnson are almost neck-and-neck in the race for City Hall in 2012, according to polling.

The poll by YouGov is its first of the mayoral campaign and saw Mr Johnson keeping afloat of Mr Livingston by the slimmest of margins – 46% to 44% in first preference votes.

This contrasts with previous polling from other companies before Labour had decided their official challenger, which saw Mr Johnson enjoying a comfortable lead.

Londoners appear evenly split on the candidates, with similar majorities believing Ken (56%) and Boris (58%) respectively did or are doing a good job as mayor.

The ebullient Conservative incumbent received strong support for his handling of the Olympics preparations, crime and buses, but suffered on his handling of the recent tube strikes.

The Labour contender, Mr Johnson’s predecessor, achieved more positive ratings on general attributes of ‘being in touch’ and competence.

The tight nature of the race suggests Londoners may be in for a thrilling campaign ahead.

The election will take place a matter of months before the Olympics begin in London in 2012, when Mr Johnson may expect to suffer some ill-feeling as a by-product of the national government’s austerity drive.

Nonetheless, Boris may take heart from the 62% support for his demands to see minimum participation for strike ballots to be put into effect.

The respondents also praised the ‘Boris bikes’ initiative, with 70% considering them a good idea, with only a small minority opposed.

In 2008, Mr Johnson claimed victory on a 6% lead.

The Liberal Democrats meanwhile have yet to select a candidate, though former MP Lembit Opik is thought to be keen on the role.