London Mayoral Election 2016 – the voice of the media

October 09, 2019 by Leela Bozonelis

The London Mayoral Election is fast approaching.  Registered voters will soon decide which candidate will represent the city of London as Mayor to implement policies on transport, police and fire services, and housing in the capital.  Voters will be deciding who will represent them at City Hall in the London Assembly, the body of 25 appointed members that oversee the decisions and policies of the London Mayor.

With just two weeks to go until a replacement for Boris Johnson is elected, five of the leading candidates joined political commentator Andrew Neil for a televised election debate.  While the audience posed questions on a number different issues, including security, fares on public transport and the EU Referendum, the issue that stood out above all others was housing in the capital.

Too close to call

When registered London voters have the opportunity to vote for their preferred candidate on Thursday 5 May, they can select a first and second choice for mayor.  A candidate must win more than 50% of first preferences to be elected mayor, and if no candidate wins more than 50% all except the top two candidates are eliminated from the race.  Second preferences for these two candidates are then taken into account, and the candidate with the most votes when all are combined will be elected as the new Mayor of London.

According to YouGov, both Khan and Goldsmith have increased their share of the vote by 1% since January to 32% and 25% respectively, and although fewer Londoners are still unsure of how they will vote (23%, down from 30% in January), a large proportion are still undecided.  When the 29% of Londoners who are either undecided, or say they would not vote in the election, were asked to choose between Khan and Goldsmith alone, each receive an even 16% each.  For the bookmakers, Sadiq Kahn is the clear favourite at 1/10.

The voice of the media

Analysis of online news and social media coverage of the London Mayoral Election using LexisNexis Newsdesk reflects the popularity of Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith, who have had the highest media profile of all of the candidates throughout 2016.

Coverage Over Time

Respect Party candidate George Galloway is the only other candidate to receive substantial bumps in media profile throughout 2016.  It is unlikely, though, that these increases reflect voting intention.  Galloway received significant media focus in February when his company, Miranda Media, was compulsorily liquidated after HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) filed a court action relating to a debt of more than £100,000.  The company had been used to funnel earnings from a state-funded broadcaster in Iran, and the story prompted several commentators to question how genuine Galloway's commitment to fighting tax avoidance is.

Share of voice analysis shows that although in third place, Galloway is some distance away from the two leading candidates, receiving little more than 16%.  The analysis also suggests a tighter gap between the two frontrunners:  Khan is out ahead at 32.65%, while Goldsmith follows closely at 30.93% share of voice.
Share Of Voice

In or out still looms

With the impending European Union (EU) Referendum hanging over the Mayoral race, the issue may supersede the traditional areas of contention when voters reach the polls in two weeks.

Khan, who is in favour of remaining in the EU, has criticised Goldsmith's support for Brexit, disputing how Goldsmith can claim to be "pro-business" and not want to remain in the EU.  Reports suggest 10% of registered voters for the election are EU citizens with the right to live and work in Britain, the issue will play a significant role.  At the time of writing the out campaign leads with 54% share of voice.  You can stay up to date with the media analysis of the EU Referendum by checking the LexisNexis EU Referendum tracker here.

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