A new Loyola Marymount University poll released on Wednesday has shown that the 2022 Los Angeles Mayoral race to be closer than previously thought, with frontrunner Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) now only four points ahead of City Councilman Kevin de Leon.
Previous polls, like the UC-Berkeley poll released last month, had Bass leading by a whopping 24 points. When tallied, the percentage of undecided voters was at 40%, with Bass at 32%. She was followed by de Leon and developer Rick Caruso both at 8%, as well as Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer at 4%.
The Loyola Marymount University Center for the Study of Los Angeles poll, released just 12 days later, found that the number of undecided voters jumped up to 42%, with Bass now sitting at only 16%. Now closely trailing her are de Leon at 12%, Buscaino at 8%, Feuer at 7%, Caruso at 6%, and former Metro Board member Mel Wilson at 4%.
However, multiple factors account for such large changes in the polling data. The LMU poll was conducted in January and early February, long before several of the Mayoral debates, Rick Caruso formally entering the race, and many prominent groups giving official endorsements. The UC-Berkeley poll had been conducted as a specific, election-oriented poll with over 2.100 respondents from the state’s official list of registered voters, while LMU was part of a broader city public opinion survey with only 815 Angelinos who self-identified as voters.
Despite the poll differences, the LMU and UC-Berkeley polls are now showing patterns starting to emerge. While Bass has a commanding lead with black voters, it is a much smaller percentage for Asian and white voters. De Leon has a large lead with Latino voters, however, with his support skewing more to the under 45 years of age crowd. Buscaino and Feuer are also gaining in some demographics as well, with Buscaino seeing more white support and Feuer seeing more Asian support coming in, adding to Bass’ poll numbers slipping away from her UC-Berkeley poll showing.
Liberal and moderate voters are also now more torn between Bass and de Leon, with Bass now having less than 23% of liberals wanting to vote for her in the LMU poll and de Leon jumping up to 15.6%. For moderate voters, there is less than a 3% difference between the two, with Bass only edging out ahead. Conservative voters, meanwhile, are largely unsure who to vote for, with over 50% of them remaining undecided so far. Caruso leads that voting block with 14%, and also likely has more now due to multiple endorsements after formally entering the race last month. De Leon is next closest at 8%.
A closer mayoral race than previously thought
Overall, Wednesday’s LMU poll shows that the race is much more open than previously thought, with Latino voters in particular steering the race away from Bass and more towards de Leon.
“The race is wide open in my mind,” noted LMU Center for the Study of Los Angeles director Fernando Guerra. “This poll says there’s an opportunity for someone to catch fire and catch up quickly.”
Political analysts largely agreed with that assessment on Wednesday.
“Other candidates are starting to see their bases for the primary starting to formulate,” noted Los Angeles issue advisor Ramon Martin to the Globe. “And this goes outside of Bass’ Congressional district and the council districts for de Leon and Buscaino. Bass is holding onto black voters, older voters and female voters, in general, but is losing her grasp on many others. Latinos are bolting more and more for de Leon, Buscaino and Feuer are gaining some ground, and Caruso is kind of rallying conservatives in the city behind him, as well as pulling in donors and endorsements from under the feet of others.
“Bass was probably not expecting these kinds of numbers three months out and is now going to be looking to how she can pull in some more non-base support. Older voters tend to go more for her, and they are usually a more reliable voter compared to younger voters, but right now she is being bled of support from four different sides.
“We’ll need a few more polls to be more accurate on the aggregate, especially because the polls show such a different level of support for Bass, because Caruso has made recent gains not reflected, and because of more recent shifts, but this is looking like a much more open race than previously thought.”
More polls on the Mayoral primary are expected later this month. The Los Angeles Mayoral primary election is to be held on June 7, 2022.