The Times has a poll conducted by Populus in which people were asked if they recognised the candidates. Not surprisingly, Ming came top at 41%, Simon scored 34% and Huhne scored 4%. In and of itself, this is hardly surprising. Indeed, the good news for all three candidates is that if they get elected they are likely to end up very recognisable: Kennedy scores 83% and beats Waynec Rooney.
The Guardian meanwhile go all mystical on us:
The survey, which was carried out after Mark Oaten dropped out of the race but before he stood down as home affairs spokesman, draws on polling techniques used in the United States, which try to discover how people respond to the look and feel of candidates, rather than a specific political message. Research suggests many voters base lasting decisions on their initial response. Voters are shown a brief silent video clip of candidates at work before being asked for their response. For the first time, ICM used an internet panel.
On this basis, I’m not at all surprised that Hughes did well. He’s a good performer, no doubt about it. But is the Guardian seriously saying that it the sole criteria for electing a leader?
Even with that caveat, the small polling size makes the statistics so open to error as to be meaningless. And then there is the question of what bit of footage they chose for the three candidates.
All in all, this is pretty meaningless. I’m sure – quite reasonably – that Simon Hughes’ team will leap on it, but to what degree it will influence the outcome remains to be seen. Notwithstanding his interviews on Monday, Hughes remains remarkably the most low profile of the three candidates.