Eric Garcetti is ahead of Wendy Greuel in the race for mayor of Los Angeles by 7 points in a new USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/LA Times poll. That compares to a 10-point lead the last time USC and the Times polled their potential voter sample in mid-April, and the 1-point lead for Greuel when the Pat Brown Institute polled its sample earlier this month. Voter turnout is expected to be less then 30 percent, so the assumptions the pollsters make about the weight to give certain blocs — Latinos, whites, women, the young — can skew a poll's results. The margin of error is 4.4 points, the pollsters say.
The new results released tonight are based on polling conducted May 14-16, says USC. It shows Garcetti with 48 percent, Greuel with 41 percent, and 11 percent undecided.
Among people who said they have already voted by mail-in absentee ballot, Garcetti leads with 48 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for Greuel. Nineteen percent of voters said they planned to vote by mail, and 80 percent said they would vote at the polls on election day.
The USC Price/LA Times Poll projects a turnout of about 25 percent in Tuesday's city election, slightly higher than turnout in the primary election in March. The pre-primary USC Price/LA Times Poll conducted in Feb. 2013 showed Garcetti leading Greuel by 2 points with 13 percent of voters undecided; in the actual primary results, Garcetti led Greuel by 4 points.
“While these numbers are certainly very good news for Garcetti, the likely low turnout coupled with the high number of undecided voters and soft support on both sides means that this race is certainly not over,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Price/LA Times Poll.
"This campaign has turned into a referendum on Wendy Greuel and more specifically her support from public employee unions," Schnur said. "The overriding challenge for Greuel continues to be to convince voters that her support from the public employees does not make her beholden to them."
Despite Greuel’s historic bid to become L.A.’s first female mayor, she still does not have an advantage among women, the poll showed. Forty-seven percent of female voters back Garcetti and 43 percent support Greuel. Men backed Garcetti over Greuel, 49 percent to 38 percent.
But Greuel has made strides among younger women, with 52 percent support among women under the age of 50 compared to 41 percent support for Garcetti among young women. Among older women, Garcetti leads Greuel 51-38.
Greuel held a substantial lead among women in the Pat Brown Institute poll. “While the numbers haven't changed much, the demographics within them have. This is a testament to the fact that negative campaigning is having an effect,” said Chris St. Hilaire, chief executive officer of Republican polling firm M4 Strategies, one of the firms that conducted the USC-LAT poll. "Those negative attacks have pushed support over to Garcetti."
Political reporter Michael Finnegan's take in the Los Angeles Times:
With the campaign's TV advertising hitting its peak over the weekend, the dynamics of the race could still shift. The poll found 11% of likely voters undecided. And more than 20% of those who were siding with a candidate said they might still change their minds. Over the last month, the poll found, Greuel has made small gains among women, Latinos, Democrats and Westside voters, offering opportunities for her to build momentum by election day. But all of those groups still preferred Garcetti.
On other topics, the USC-LAT poll found that 61 percent of voters favor "more regulation of the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries, compared to 13 percent who opt for less regulation and 19 percent who say regulation should stay the same." Fifty-five percent of voters favor the limits "set forth by Proposition D, a ballot measure that would cap the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles at 135 – the number of clinics operating in the city prior to the September 2007 moratorium imposed by the City Council."
- When asked where policymakers should focus transportation spending, 49 percent of voters said money should be invested in public transit such as buses, rail and subways, as opposed to 35 percent who said money should go to roads and freeways. Twelve percent said policymakers should focus on both.
- Voters named traffic congestion as L.A.’s most serious transportation problem (39 percent), followed by a lack of public transportation (27 percent) and the poor condition of streets (20 percent).
- Sixty-five percent said they had not used a mode of public transportation in Los Angeles within the last month, and 35 percent of voters said they had used L.A.’s buses, trains or subways during that time.
- Overall, 25 percent used the bus, 17 percent used a subway, trolley or light rail and 14 percent traveled via train in the past month. Of those who had used public transportation, 36 percent used it at least once per week and 62 percent used it less than weekly.
- Only 13 percent of voters who used public transit said they used it “mostly to work,” with 57 percent saying they “mostly go somewhere else.” Twenty-seven percent of voters using public transit said they use it equally for work and other trips.