The Mayor appears to be as popular today as he was on the day he was first elected in May 2008. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, or Boris as the city knows him, won 53.2% of the vote to beat Labour’s Ken Livingstone to the job over 7 years ago. His satisfaction rating last month, according to GLA polling, was 53%.
For an elected politician to maintain his rating with the public might be seen as something of an achievement, but there have been a few peaks and troughs along the way. The GLA has been commissioning the polling company ICM to ask questions of a panel of 1,000 Londoners since April 2009 and in each poll they ask about satisfaction with the Mayor.
Back in April 2009 Boris was less than a year into the role and his satisfaction rating had risen slightly above his share of the vote to 55%. But 12 months later things were on the slide. In March 2010 he hit his rating low point with just 49% of survey respondents saying they were satisfied or fairly satisfied with the job he was doing.
That job, as London’s chief executive is defined as promoting economic development and wealth creation, social development, and improvement of the environment. He also has responsibilities for culture and tourism.
March 2010 was the only time in the polling that the Mayor’s rating has dipped below 50%. He was re-elected to office in May 2012, though his share of the vote was shaved to 51.5%.
But help was on the horizon in the shape of the London Olympics. His prominent role led to a huge ratings boost and his highest score of 64% satisfied with the job he was doing was achieved in the autumn after the Olympics.
Boris has now descended from those Olympian heights and is currently sitting at 53% again. He will leave office next spring and the battle lines are being drawn to replace him with the election in May. The survey data over the past 6 years shows that the Mayor’s popularity tends to dip during the 2nd quarter of the year – April to June.
Whether that dip will have an impact on the man who wants to carry the Conservative flag after the Mayor, Zac Goldsmith, or whether it impacts all politician, including Labour’s Sadiq Khan, the Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon, the Greens’ Sian Berry and the 4 other candidates, is not clear.
One thing is certain from London’s relationship with the Mayor however – after a Ken and a Boris, whoever gets the job will need to be high profile enough that just a first name will do.