Sadiq Khan is on track for a comfortable win in next year’s London Mayoral election, according to the latest poll.
Almost half (49%) of Londoners plan to give the current Mayor their first preference vote next May, according to a survey by pollsters Redfield and Wilton.
Conservative Shaun Bailey is a distant second, with just 26% of first preference votes.
Twelve per cent of voters plan to cast their ballot for a Liberal Democrat – although the party’s original candidate, Siobhan Benita, withdrew from the contest last month.
The Lib Dems are currently in the process of selecting a new Mayoral contender via an internal vote by party members.
Meanwhile Green candidate Sian Berry is on track for 9% of first preference votes, with 4% of Londoners planning to back another candidate.
The Mayoral vote was originally due to take place in May this year, but was delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two candidates – Ms Benita, and independent Rory Stewart – have been forced to withdraw because of the hold up.
Mr Khan’s vote share (49%) is the same as it was in the last major poll, conducted by Queen Margaret University London and YouGov in March.
This stable support for the Labour incumbent could be an endorsement of his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
Until this week London had the highest Covid-19 death toll of any British region, with 6,887 deaths, according to Public Health England.
A collapse in commuting saw Transport for London finances tumble, and the Government and City Hall are locked in a bitter dispute over a £1.6 billion stop gap bailout and the conditions attached to it.
But the Mayor has championed London’s local needs during the outbreak and spoken openly about the impact of lockdown on his own mental health.
He now has a net positive rating of 20% – 46% of Londoners approve his track record at City Hall, with 26% disapproving.
Mr Khan is particularly popular among younger voters, with 65% of under 25s and 60% of under 35s planning to vote for him.
Strikingly, 13% of voters who backed the Conservatives last December will cast their ballot for the Labour Mayor next May.
If he improves his ratings slightly and convinces a majority of Londoners to back him, he could avoid a run off against Mr Bailey altogether – which would be the first time a London Mayor has won the election outright.
Though the Conservative candidate has gained two percentage points on the Mayor since the March poll, but is still 23 points adrift.
Mr Bailey appears to gained little from former Conservative minister Mr Stewart withdrawing his independent candidacy.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat vote share has trebled, despite having no candidate selected, and the Greens have gained 2% – a possible indication of where Mr Stewart’s backers have gone.
Mr Bailey is also still relatively unknown to Londoners, the survey revealed.
Though 55% of respondents have heard of him, 37% have not – including a quarter of 2019 Conservative voters. The remainder were unsure if they knew him.
Almost two fifths (39%) of voters know none of Mr Bailey’s policies, with a quarter (26%) knowing some and one in five voters (20%) claiming to know most or all of what he stands.
But coronavirus appears to have shifted the focus in the capital, with voters divided on the issue they’ll have foremost in their minds as they cast their votes next May.
Typically, the cost of living in London, housing and crime are priorities for voters.
Now one in five will prioritise economic growth, with housing (18%) and healthcare (14%) also important to many residents.
Policing (10%), transport (9%), the environment, immigration and coronavirus (all 8%) are also on voters’ minds.
Those planning to back the Mayor are more interested in housing and healthcare, while Shaun Bailey’s supporters focus more on crime and immigration.
The delayed London Mayoral vote will take place in May next year.