20/03/2012 09:21 GMT

Boris Johnson Seen As 'More Likeable' But Out Of Touch With Ordinary Voters

The race to become London Mayor is neck-and-neck according to a new poll, with Boris Johnson seen as more likeable but Ken Livingstone viewed as having a greater grasp of detail.

A survey conducted by Ipsos MORI as the election gets underway showed that Johnson, the incumbent, was "more liked" by voters (43%) than his Labour rival Ken Livingstone (35%).

However perhaps in keeping with his somewhat (self-perpetuated) bumbling image, only 28% of those asked thought the current Tory mayor had a grasp of details compared to 44% who thought Livingstone did.

More Londoners also believed Livingstone would be best in a crisis (43% compared to 23%) and he is regarded as the candidate most likely to understand the concerns of ordinary Londoners (49% compared to 26%).

Yet Johnson is seen as the "better ambassador" for London (47% compared to 32% for Livingstone) and voters in the capital also think Johnson is able to secure a better deal for London from Whitehall.

Tom Mludzinski, deputy head of political research at Ipsos MORI said: "This is an election where personality really matters; while policies are of course important, it may well be the individual and how they motivate their supporters to turn out that decides this election."

"While each candidate has their strengths and weaknesses, both on policies and personal characteristics, this poll shows that the race for Mayor of London is extremely close with plenty of Londoners still open to persuasion either way."