Place your bets for the two-horse race

It’s not the sort of thing you’re meant to say when you’re being paid to cover it, but London’s Mayoral election has not been the most exciting political contest in recent history. Oh, say most Londoners, it’s Ken against Boris. Again.

A row in a lift and unfathomable arguments about tax are about the only things anyone can remember from this campaign.

And so here we are, less than a week from polling day, and the headline hasn’t budged. Boris still leads Ken in the polls, and both are far ahead of their nearest rival.

Beneath that lurks a more interesting story. One poll suggests support for Labour in London at 50%, and the Conservatives at 31%.

If that’s right, Boris is significantly out-performing his party, and Ken is significantly under-performing his. And that suggests both men are effectively beyond ordinary party politics.

Ken admits Boris attracts some natural Labour voters, who think he’s funny. Ken, meanwhile, appears to turn off a significant proportion of Labour supporters.

So much so that one of the party's MP this week urged people to “hold their noses” and vote for Livingstone next week.

So what will both sides do in the final days of a fairly lacklustre campaign?

Boris Johnson’s team need to counter any sense of complacency – four years ago Livingstone failed to get out his supporters in key inner London boroughs. If Boris doesn’t motivate his supporters in outer London he’ll suddenly look a lot more vulnerable.

Ken Livingstone, meanwhile, needs to work on the one-in-five Labour supporters in London who seem immune to his charms. He also needs to hoover up as many second preference votes as he can from supporters of other candidates.

If he isn’t going to beat Boris in the first round, he needs to work out how to overtake him in the second. Usually, Livingstone’s campaign team would expect to get most of Lib Dem Brian Paddick’s second preference votes, and almost all supporters of the Green Party’s Jenny Jones.

But it’s here the independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, could prove crucial. Although she's still polling in the low single figures, she could pick up a significant number of second preference votes. Of course, under the supplementary vote system, those votes will be thrown away unless she beats either Ken or Boris in the first round.

But if those second preferences are people who otherwise would have voted for Livingstone (an assumption, but a reasonable one given Siobhan’s stated past support for Labour), she could end up making a big difference to the final result.