In order to become the first woman mayor of Los Angeles, analysts believed that Controller Wendy Greuel needed to win a majority of female voters and pick up both her home turf in the Valley and, as the somewhat less liberal of the two candidates, win the niche of Republicans who vote in LA. But it didn't happen. Fernando Guerra, who runs the Center for the Study of Los Angeles exit poll at Loyola Marymount University, says that Greuel and Eric Garcetti split the vote among women 50-50. Greuel won in the Valley but only narrowly, 51-49, and that wasn't going to be enough to offset Garcetti's strength elsewhere in the city, Guerra says. Garcetti got 59 percent of white voters and 63 percent of Latinos, according to the exit poll, which correctly predicted Garcetti's eight-point victory margin. The only group in which Greuel did better than expected was among African American voters, where she got 71 percent, says Guerra.
It all adds up to the Kevin James endorsement of Garcetti — letting the progresive Democrat claim a patina of conservative image too — being one of the most valuable in the entire race, Guerra said. He was on KPCC's "Airtalk with Larry Mantle" at the top of the 11 o'clock hour giving his analysis with Raphael Sonenshein of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State LA and USC's Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. All agreed that Greuel's strategy of lining up powerful endorsers such as President Bill Clinton, Sen. Barbara Boxer and the chambers of commerce in LA and the Valley did not overcome the image Garcetti pushed of Greuel being a tool of the DWP unions. The DWP as an agency is very unpopular among voters, Sonenshein pointed out. He noted that without Republican voters lining up for Garcetti, the race would have been close.
Guerra used the occasion to needle the LA Times for leading this morning's papers with a holding headline that said the race for mayor was close. The results, and Guerra's exit poll which he first talked about last night, showed that the runoff for mayor was never as close as some of the polls showed. The Times data team, meanwhile, put up early this morning a nifty map showing the precinct breakdown by Garcetti and Greuel voters. It shows a swath of green from the Eastside to the Westside for Garcetti, a cluster of magenta for Greuel in South Los Angeles reflecting her support among blacks, and a scatter spray of both colors across the Valley. It's frankly amazing that this can now be done so quickly — it omits the 80,000 or so uncounted ballots that remain, but still. A very cool info graphic and it's interactive.
Greuel came out for the media shortly after 10 a.m. at her Van Nuys field office. She was very cordial toward Garcetti, her former seatmate on the City Council horseshoe, and offered him any help he wants as mayor. "I’ve known Eric Garcetti for over a decade, since our days in the City Council together. But after going toe to toe with him as political opponents for two years now, in roughly five thousand debates … you really get to know a person. And the one thing I know about Eric Garcetti, is that he cares deeply about Los Angeles, and that he will work tirelessly to be the strong and innovative leader we need at this critical moment in our history."
Greuel got emotional several times talking about son and husband, and the volunteers who worked on her multi-year campaign to become mayor. When asked her immediate plans, she exclaimed, "I'm going to Disneyland." It's apparently a promise to her son Thomas.
Greuel expressed some frustration that money and union influence became the defining media issues of the campaign, and that more voters didn't care that she could have been the first woman mayor of LA. She took credit for pushing against "the glass ceiling" and vowed that someday there will be a woman in the third floor office at City Hall.
LA Observed photos