Most Londoners - including Boris Johnson supporters - see themselves as social liberals, according to the findings of a new online tool designed to help voters compare their political positions to those of the mayoral candidates.
Since its launch in April 2012, several thousand Londoners have tried out Mayor4London.com, the voting application developed by the London School of Economics, Queen Mary, University of London, and the e-Democracy centre (e-DC) based at the University of Zurich.
Users of the app answer a series of questions on policy issues being debated in the run-up to the election, such as crime, education, welfare and transport. They are also asked which party they feel closest to, and which mayoral candidate they intend to vote for on their first and second preferences.
The application then analyses how closely a person's responses overlap with the policies of Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnston and other candidates bidding to run City Hall on 3 May.
Designed by Dr Nick Anstead in the Department of Media and Communication at LSE, Dr Mario Mendez from the School of Law at Queen Mary and Dr Jonathan Wheatley at the e-DC, the tool aims to engage voters in the mayoral elections.
"The application aims to help voters understand key election issues and where candidates stand on them, particularly important as this hotly contested election is in two rounds, so voters need a deeper knowledge of more candidates than in a parliamentary election," said Dr Anstead.
Discussing the findings, Dr Mendez said: "It is very interesting to see that the Londoners who responded tended to self-position themselves as social liberals. Data also suggest that a greater percentage of those who identified as Conservative Party supporters intend to vote Boris as compared to the figures for the Labour Party and Liberal Democrat candidate."
"However, when it comes to second preferences Ken has greater support than Boris from those who intended to vote Green, Lib-Dem and for the independent candidate," he added.
The data from over 3,300 users (as of 29 April 2012) offers some interesting findings:
1. Most Londoners see themselves as social liberals. Even Tories place themselves midway between the social liberal and social conservative poles, and Boris's supporters are, on average, mildly socially liberal.
2. Green supporters are the most left-wing group.
3. Supporters of Ken Livingstone (Labour) and Jenny Jones (Green Party) occupy very similar positions
4. LibDem/Brian Paddick supporters are half way between Labour/Ken and Tories/Boris on economic left versus right, but are much closer to Labour on the social axis
5. Boris supporters are slightly less right-wing than Tory supporters generally
6. Supporters of independent candidate Siobhan Benita are solidly centrist or left-centrist
7. Of those who feel closest to the Tories, 82.6 per cent say they will support Boris and 7.4 per cent are undecided
8. Of those who feel closest to Labour, 55.2 per cent say they will support Ken, 18.6 per cent are undecided, 7.7 per cent will vote for Siobhan and 6.3 per cent will vote for Boris
9. Of those who feel closest to the LibDems, 31.0 per cent say that they will vote for Brian, 20.6 per cent are undecided, 13.2 per cent say they will vote for Boris, 13.2 per cent for Ken and 12.5 per cent for Siobhan
10. Of those who feel closest to the Greens 47.5 per cent will vote for Jenny Jones, 22.6 per cent will vote for Ken and 16.1 per cent are undecided
11. In terms of second preferences, 27.0 per cent of Brian's supporters will give their support to Ken and 23.8 per cent for Boris. 70.2 per cent of Jenny's supporters will go to Ken and just 6.8 per cent will go to Boris. Finally, 32.1 per cent of Siobhan's second preferences will go to Ken, 19.3 per cent to Boris.
User results are displayed in three graphs, plotting how closely users match candidates on policy statements and themes such as crime, transport, society, education, welfare and mayoral powers. A fourth graph pinpoints whether a user is more closely aligned to the left or right, based on their attitude towards the economy, and to social liberalism or social conservatism based on their feelings towards matters such as family, patriotism, law and order.
Additional features allow users to create a personalised profile of all their results and to compare themselves with friends instead of candidates on responses.
The i-frame code is available for any organisation wishing to run the application on their website: see the FAQs at http://www.mayor4london.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
Journalists who wish to interview any of the academics involved in developing the app should email firstname.lastname@example.org