John Curtice – King of the Polls



Interviewed by Henry Tobias Jones

Prof John Curtice is the King of the Polls. He was the lone voice to successfully predict the outcome of the 2015 general election and along with his team at NatCen he is the polling expert.


KCW Today spoke with Curtice about the London Mayoral and GLA Assembly election results, to investigate how accurate the polls were at predicting how Londoners vote.

Prof Curtice explains that the final polls which gave Sadiq a 14-point lead “all fall quite similarly to each other.”

“We’ve had 5 polls that were conducted between the 26th and the day before polling day, three of them said 57:43, and one said 56: 44,” he says “so nobody is really too surprised by the Opinium poll. ComRes is done by phone, YouGov is done online and they both have the same story.”

“If you look at the way the London Elects website was tallying the vote on the day of the election, Mr Khan was already ahead on the morning of the count,” Curtice explains. London voters are easier to predict than national results, he explains, because of the way the boroughs are split.  

When it comes to predicting and analysing election results, voter turnout is actually the most interesting aspect of London’s democratic landscape. In the London Assembly and Mayoral election the overall London electorate was 5,739,011 and voter turnout was 45.6%. In boroughs like Merton and Wandsworth voter turnout for the Mayor election reached 50%. In some boroughs the increased turnout even meant that Sadiq had more votes than Boris received in 2012.

While the voter turnout rise was hailed by many in the Labour party as evidence of a coup for Khan, many Tories have responded by claiming that the losses actually correspond to the absence of the “Boris factor” in what is essentially a Labour region. With Boris out of the picture many claim that Labour have essentially stood still in London.

In the rest of England Labour have faced much more lackluster results, and by all accounts had a disaster in Scotland where they have been relegated to the third party behind the Tories.

London now sets its sights on the EU referendum. Sadiq Khan and the results of the national election will undoubtedly have a profound effect on the future of London, however, Curtice explains the EU Referendum will be an entirely different battleground.


“Why the hell should it make any difference that Sadiq Khan is Mayor of London? London is going to vote to remain anyway its the most pro-remain part of England. It doesn’t need Sadiq Khan’s particular assistance in order for that to happen.”


“London may not vote to remain quite so strongly as Scotland or Northern Ireland will, but it will be relatively clear because it’s full of young graduates, and young university graduates are in general keen for staying inside the European Union.”

When asked how the result of the Mayoral race could affect the EU referendum campaign, Prof Curtice was very clear, declaring: “I wouldn’t have thought it will make a single iota of difference.”

“Why the hell should it make any difference that Sadiq Khan is Mayor of London,” adding that “London is going to vote to remain anyway.” The capital is “the most pro-remain part of England. It doesn’t need Sadiq Khan’s particular assistance in order for that to happen, and the basic thing here is that the EU referendum cuts across voting preference. So the conservative vote is split down the middle, Labour voters are 2:1 in favour of remain, and none of the parties have much control of their voters on this issue.”

The EU Referendum will take place on the 23rd June and with the campaigns already underway, Professor Curtice predicts that London will vote to stay in the EU. If his record proves anything it’s that he is very rarely wrong.

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