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Boris on course for victory

Final poll puts Boris six points ahead of Ken but Labour leads by 10 points in the London Assembly.

New Statesman
Olympic performance? Boris Johnson stands on the high board with athlete Tom Daly during a visit to the Olympic Aquatic Centre on January 9, 2012 in London Photograph: Getty Images.

Boris Johnson is on course for another four years in City Hall. That's according to the final YouGov poll on the London mayoral election, which gives Boris a six-point lead over Ken Livingstone (53-47 per cent) once second preferences have been allocated. In the 2004 and 2008 mayoral elections, YouGov predicted the result to within one per cent, so it would require a dramatic upset for Ken to win.

Indeed, so inevitable does a Boris victory now seem (Paddy Power has already paid out £20,000 to the punters) that some Conservative strategists fear an adverse effect on Tory turnout, allowing Ken in through the back door. When all responses are taken into account (rather than those of people "certain to vote"), the final round is a dead heat between Boris and Ken with both on 50 per cent.

Yet while Ken is struggling, Labour is thriving. The party enjoys a 13-point lead in London (47-34 per cent) and a 10-point lead over the Tories in the London Assembly election. If Boris wins, it will be in spite of the fact that he is a Tory, rather than because he is. In a country where his party trails Labour by 10 points, he is that increasingly rare thing: a popular Conservative.