A new USC Price/Los Angeles Times Poll in the mayoral race is good for Eric Garcetti and bad for Wendy Greuel. The poll of likely voters finds Garcetti out front by 10 ten points, 50 percent to 40 percent. The LAT's Michael Finnegan writes: "The survey also found no sign of success for Greuel's effort to gain an edge among women by highlighting her potential to make history as the city's first female mayor. Women preferred Garcetti, 50% to 41%."
Latinos and younger voters backed Garcetti by still wider margins. The city councilman from Silver Lake has strengthened his standing in the central city and Eastside neighborhoods that he won decisively in the March primary. He has also built a solid lead on the Westside — a key target of Greuel's.
Perhaps most worrisome for Greuel, the city controller, is her failure so far to establish a base in the Valley, where the two are effectively tied. Greuel, who lives in Studio City, had hoped that audits by her office that found wasteful spending of taxpayer money would appeal to the Valley's Republicans, often a pivotal vote in L.A. elections.
Instead, Garcetti has emerged with a lopsided lead among conservatives citywide, picking up support from many of those who voted in the primary for Republican radio personality Kevin James, now a Garcetti backer.
Greuel's tepid support in the Valley, which she represented on the City Council from 2002 to 2009, poses a major challenge for her in the closing weeks of the race. Though Democrats dominate the Valley, many of the city's Republicans live on its western and northern ends.
"That's an untenable situation for Greuel," said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/Los Angeles Times City Election Poll.
Greuel immediately attacked not the poll results, but the Times. "I'll let you draw your own conclusions -- but there are a few reasons why this poll doesn't stand up under scrutiny," she says in a blast email from her campaign. "I know many of you think the Times has been overly harsh about my campaign and my message -- they endorsed my opponent, but that doesn't seem to be quite where they stop." Of course, she's got nuthin' and just sounds desperate. The polls are done with USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy and conducted by two outside polling firms, one mostly Democratic and one mostly Republican. The same polling operation the week before the March 5 primary found the race a virtual tie.
The poll did have some pluses for Greuel. Voters trust Greuel to handle schools better than Garcetti, and a plurality said Greuel seems more genuine in contrast to Garcetti, "the one who seems like a typical politician and says things just to get elected." There was criticism also of Garcetti as a candidate "who cares more about big businesses and developers than Los Angeles as a whole." I guess Greuel doesn't suggest the Times cooked that part. The phone poll last week of 500 likely voters comes with a margin of error of 4.4 points.
Garcetti got the higher marks in the poll "on how he would handle traffic, mass transit, jobs, crime and public safety, always areas of concern for city voters," says the Times story. But Greuel was associated more with the city unions, which are backing her with big bucks. "The most important question of this campaign is whether Wendy Greuel can convince voters that her support from organized labor does not make her beholden to them," said Schnur, the poll's director at USC. "According to these polling numbers, she has not yet done that."
Greuel on Friday started airing an ad attacking Garcetti personally for his investments, and on Saturday she got a nice media op boost from former President Bill Clinton. They appeared at Langer's in the Westlake district and set up a town hall-style format where Clinton was thrown softball questions about Greuel. He gave her props for her work after the 1994 earthquake, when she helped coordinate federal relief efforts in Los Angeles.
"I thought she did a terrific job...I have seen her get things done," said Clinton. "It would be great if Wendy was the first female mayor in Los Angeles."
Garcetti plans to make a Ciclavia appearance today in Venice. I haven't yet seen Greuel's schedule for the day.
Election graphic: The Hollywood Reporter