According to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll released on Friday, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) grew her lead against real estate developer Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles Mayoral race in August, now leading by double-digit points.
Following the primary vote in June, Bass only kept a narrow advantage over Caruso. Some polls had Bass only 4 points ahead. However, throughout the summer, a growing spotlight on the race, as well as more indications that the midterms in November will bring out many more voters than the low turnout in June, have helped Bass creep up in the polls. High-profile endorsements from President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have also appeared to have helped Bass more than hurt her despite their respective slipping of approval ratings.
The poll on Friday found that Bass is currently leading by 12 points, 43% to 31%, with 24% undecided. By area, Bass has continued to make in roads into most districts, including Caruso’s base of support in the San Fernando Valley, with Caruso now only up there by two points.
In terms of favorability, it fell roughly on current registered Democrat/Republican lines in the city. Bass is currently seen as favorable by 49% of voters, with 22% not seeing her in a favorable light and 29% not having an opinion. Conversely, Caruso only had 35% favorability, 40% being unfavorable, and 24% having no opinion.
However, despite Bass’ 12 point lead, Caruso still holds some advantages going into campaign season. The Caruso campaign has a particularly large war chest of funds due to him being a billionaire, which is something hard even for the Bass campaign to come close to. During the primary, Caruso had come close to Bass largely thanks to his spending and focusing on Spanish-language ads for Latino voters.
That push has also led to some worrying demographic figures for the Bass campaign. While Bass enjoys a large amount of support from Black voters as well as a slight advantage with white voters due to registered party makeup of the city, Caruso still holds advantages with Asian and Latino voters. The poll shows that Bass and Caruso each have 34% support from the latter two communities. However, Caruso has been making more inroads with communities that are 80% or more Latino, a potentially crucial segment of voters come November. On the other hand, supporters of Councilman Kevin de Leon, the third place finisher in June’s primary who brought out a large amount of support, have been largely favoring Bass, potentially mitigating the advantage Caruso has with the Latino community.
Caruso still shows some advantages despite 12 point margin
The hot button issue of abortion is also playing out with voters, with many pro-abortion supporters solidifying their support with Bass, while many against abortion, including those in the Latino community, siding with Caruso. Having a tougher stance on crime is also working to Caruso’s favor due to his long history of support for the LAPD.
Analysts note that the race is Bass’ to lose right now, although Caruso should not be easily discounted.
“Bass has been doing better, but Caruso has also been sort of a sleeping dragon in the last few months,” explained Jan Ives, a Washington-based local election analyst, to the Globe on Friday. “Bass has been running around town, and was even seen with Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti this week. But her team is not getting too comfortable. They know he has the funds to retake lost ground through ads, they know he can easily reach younger voters through social media, and they know his strength on crime matters.”
“They also don’t want to debate the guy but they likely will, especially if he gets some ground back. Most worrisome for them are his supporters. He is still getting a large number of Latino and Asian voters, along with a sizeable number of White voters. That is something real to build off of. Bass needs to reinvigor herself with these communities if she wants to stay this far ahead. It’s 12 points, but it is also not even September yet. They shouldn’t slack off now because Caruso is likely going to bring in a new campaign blitz soon.”
More polls on the LA Mayoral race are expected as election grows closer.
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