Election 2022: New poll shows LA mayoral candidates in dead heat

The two Los Angeles mayoral candidates, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso, are heading into the final three weeks of their campaign in a statistically dead heat among likely voters, according to new poll results released Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The poll shows Caruso, a political newcomer who has largely self-funded his campaign, with a 3 percentage-point lead (39.8% v. 36.8%) over Bass, a former state Assembly speaker and current congresswoman who has racked up endorsements from some big-name Democrats with national profiles, including President Joe Biden.

Survey: LA voters answer 9 questions leading up to Nov. 8 election

But the 3-point lead is too small to be statistically significant, meaning the race to become mayor of the nation’s second-largest city could remain a nail-biter through election day.

The Southern California News Group poll, conducted by Irvine’s J. Wallin Opinion Research, surveyed 400 likely voters in L.A. about the biggest issues facing the city, which mayoral candidate they prefer and whether they support the two city initiatives on the ballot.

The interviews took place Saturday through Monday, Oct. 15-17, and included both English and Spanish speakers using landlines and mobile phones. The respondents matched the demographic composition of the region. The margin of error is +/- 4.9%.

A tight race

If voters were to cast their ballots today, roughly 40% would do so for Caruso, compared to 37% for Bass — within the margin of error — while another 23.6% remained undecided or would not answer the question.

When asked which candidate would do a better job addressing key issues confronting the city, the respondents named Caruso in four of the five categories, although only one – managing the city’s finances – had Caruso with a notable lead (37.8% v. 31%).

In three other areas – dealing with inflation and the economy, homelessness and poverty, and crime and public safety – Caruso led by 4 to 4.3 percentages points, which is still within the margin of error. In one category – dealing with City Hall corruption – both candidates were basically even at about 31%.

“We can only definitely say that Caruso has an advantage with finance,” pollster Justin Wallin said. “The other ones, they’re too close to call. People view them both as credible players.”

Sarah Leonard Sheahan, Bass campaign spokeswoman, challenged the findings, saying the poll was inconsistent with other polls the campaign has seen.

“However, we all know the $80 million and counting Caruso has spent attacking Congresswoman Bass will certainly bring things closer,” she said, referring to the tens of millions of dollars of his own money that Caruso, a billionaire real estate tycoon, has poured into the race in the form of ads and other campaign expenditures.

“Money can’t change the fact this is a race between an anti-choice Republican billionaire who looks out for his friends and a pro-choice Democrat who’s always been on the people’s side,” Bass’ spokeswoman said.

Caruso has faced criticism for previously being registered as a Republican or as having no-party affiliation. He only registered as a Democrat shortly before announcing his intention to run for mayor. He’s also been criticized for previously donating to candidates who do not support abortion rights.

Caruso has repeatedly said he supports abortion rights and that he left the Republican Party because it no longer reflects his values.

The businessman has also cast himself as the candidate who can bring an outsider’s view on and solutions for the city’s various issues.

“I can feel the positive momentum for our campaign when I am out in the community meeting with people,” Caruso said in a Tuesday evening statement. “Voters know the best way to address homelessness and safety is to have a leader who doesn’t accept the deterioration of our quality of life.

“We know this is going to be a tight race,” he added, “and I am going to work hard to earn every vote and make Los Angeles a place where every resident can thrive.”

Bass, with her years in political office, was an early frontrunner in the race and received 43% of the votes in the June primary – 7 percentage points more than Caruso.

In late September, a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found that among all registered voters in L.A., Bass’ lead over Caruso had narrowed to just 3 percentage points (34% v. 31%). The congresswoman had led by 12 points in an earlier IGS poll over the summer.

Among likely voters, however, the September IGS poll showed Caruso still trailing by double digits – 46% of those voters expressed support for Bass versus 31% for Caruso.

Courting voters

Both candidates have been barnstorming the city in an attempt to win over more voters.

In a city where Latinos make up roughly half of all residents, firing up this electoral base could be key for the candidates. In the SCNG poll, 43.7% of Latino voters said they would vote for Caruso compared to 29.4% for Bass.

Caruso also has the advantage among White (43.6% v. 37.8%) and Asian/Pacific Islander voters (35.5% v. 29%). But the congresswoman has a solid hold among Black voters (57.4% v. 19.1%).

Joel Fox, an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and a political analyst, said he was surprised to see support among Democrats for Bass dip below 50%.

Bass had been running an ad campaign calling Caruso a Republican and portraying herself as the only true Democrat in the race, he said.

“She has the entire Democratic establishment, including President Biden,Fox said. “And yet, according to your poll, only 43.8% of Democratic voters are behind her. I find that surprising.”

Caruso received 32.9% of Democratic support.

Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, also noted Caruso’s lead among Latino and Asian voters.

“What makes Caruso competitive is that he beat Bass in the Asian American and Latino communities in this poll,” Guerra said. “For him to become mayor, he needs to get over 50% of Latino vote and 50% of Asian American vote.”

In terms of which issues voters would like the mayor and city council to prioritize, the results were largely unsurprising.

With 77% of survey respondents reporting that homelessness had worsened over the last couple of years, voters indicated they want the city’s elected officials to fix the homeless crisis (60.3%); protect communities from crime, drugs, gang and graffiti (40.8%); lower the cost of living in L.A. and blunt the impacts of inflation (37.8%). Creating more affordable housing came in fourth (34.8%).

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said in an email that if the SCNG poll is accurate, it probably reflects the fact that gas prices are rising again, and many voters identify more conservative candidates as better able to address economic issues.

Levinson also said it’s natural for the race to tighten as election day draws closer.

Other poll findings

More than half (58%) of those polled said the city is headed in the wrong direction and slightly more than a majority (50.5%) said they feel less safe than they did a couple of years ago.

More than three-quarters (78%) of Angelenos also said that Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon should resign for their roles in the latest City Hall scandal, in which the two are heard in a secret recording conspiring with then-Council President Nury Martinez and an influential labor leader over how to redraw the city’s redistricting map to benefit themselves and Latino voters – at the expense of diminishing Black voter representation.

Racist comments and other insults about the Black, Oaxacan, Jewish and LGBTQ communities, amonth others – primarily uttered by Martinez – were also heard in the recording.

While all three have apologized, only Martinez has resigned.

As for the city’s ballot measures, both appear headed for passage, based on the latest poll.

Related Articles

News |

Election 2022: Democrats, Republicans both see California as target for US House gains

News |

A flat-out feud Nov. 8 between LA District 11 City Council candidates Erin Darling and Traci Park

News |

Elections 2022: Measure C seeks taxes on unincorporated LA County dispensaries

News |

Election 2022: Long Beach Mayor Garcia, Republican Briscoe vie for 42nd House District

News |

For Biden and Trump, 2022 is 2020 sequel — and 2024 preview?

Proposition SP, set to pass with 54% approval, is a proposed parcel tax to pay for parks, recreational centers, pools, playgrounds, waterways, beaches, green spaces, open spaces, childcare and other facilities.

Meant to address the lack of park facilities in some neighborhoods, the initiative would be funded through a tax of about 8.4 cents per square foot on improved parcels, an amount that would eventually drop to 2.2 cents per square foot over time. The proposal would include citizen oversight and tax exemptions for low-income households.

Ordinance ULA also appears ready to pass, with 56.5% of survey respondents indicating support for it. The ordinance would provide funding for affordable housing and tenant assistance programs by taxing property transfers valued at more than $5 million.

The sale or transfer of property exceeding $5 million would be taxed at 4% and at 5.5% for properties worth $10 million or more, with some exceptions. This would generate about $600 million to $1.1 billion each year for the city.

Share the Post:

Related Posts