According to a UC Berkeley – Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted earlier this month, Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) currently has a commanding lead in the LA Mayoral race, sitting at four times the amount of her nearest opponents with 32%.
However, while Bass, who officially declared her candidacy in September of 2021, currently leads the pack less than four months before the Primary election in June, even more Angelino voters are undecided, with that number currently sitting at 40%. No other candidate is at the double digit level, with the second place candidates, City Councilman Kevin de Leon and the newest candidate, Developer Rick Caruso, both sitting at 8%. The two other major candidates, City Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer, came in with 4% each.
The only other Mayoral poll, an FM3 Research conducted poll dating to August 2021, shows that Bass has gone up by 10% since then, with Caruso and De Leon also jumping up two points. Buscaino has gone down by one point since then with Feuer staying the same.
The Berkeley study also went into favorability factors. While the candidate being a woman, a political outsider, or a person of color scored low in terms of being very important to voters, over 40% of people surveyed said that prior public office experience and being progressive in politics was important.
A liberal swing was also noted, especially in comparison to the 1993 LA Mayoral race in which Republican Richard Riordan won. In 1993, 29% of voters said they were liberal, 29% said they were conservative with 42% saying they were moderate. 29 years later, 61% say they are liberal compared to only 14% conservative and 24% moderate.
With Bass already ahead for the primary, UC Berkeley IGS Director Mark DiCamillo said that the June primary will be really more for who will face her come November.
“This is really a race for second place. It’s about who is going to join Karen Bass in the top two,” noted DiCamillo. “Still you’re getting a relatively large chunk of voters with no opinion, and that is to be expected at this point in the race.”
A race for second place
With so many liberal candidates on the ballot, many commentators have noted that the more right-leaning Caruso, who only became a Democrat earlier this year, may find himself a surprise second-place winner in June due to liberal Angelinos being split on the other candidates.
“We’ve seen this in many elections before, like the 1912 and 1992 Presidential elections, or even in the 1999 Baltimore Mayoral race,” explained Los Angeles issue advisor Ramon Martin to the Globe on Thursday. “You have so many other similar people running on one side, that someone with the other viewpoint squeaks out the win. Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft split the Republicans in 1912 and Woodrow Wilson won. Ross Perot and George Bush Sr. split them again in 1992, and Bill Clinton won. Martin O’Malley went in as the only white guy in Baltimore in 1999 and won a majority black city because of the many black Democratic candidates running. And it’s looking similar for Caruso here, at least for the primary.”
“Bass has the majority, but she is not great at getting certain groups. A lot of Latinos are flocking to De Leon, hence his stronger showing, and Feuer and Buscaino have their bases. Republicans and moderates, as well as the growing number of Democrats wanting to buck progressive policies due to the recent crime wave and other problems, are lost in the woods and found the best candidate to be Caruso. A lot of Angelinos, especially younger ones, don’t want a billionaire as Mayor, but we may see him come in second place because he is so different from everyone else. Bass has nearly all the endorsements, but Caruso comes in well funded and with a strong base. If he can hammer her on crime and homelessness he can gain ground. The thing is, a lot of people have been telling me if Caruso pledges a lot for low-income housing in the city, especially big developments right in the middle of where Bass has her base, there can be a growing shift.”
“This poll is definitely interesting, but we’re still four months out and a lot can happen. If another crime wave hits or another COVID variant emerges, we’ll have some variables there.”
The Los Angeles Mayoral Primary is to be held on June 7th.
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