USC Price/LA Times Poll: Voters Remain Undecided on L.A. City Attorney’s Race, Prop. A as Primary Approaches

March 2, 2013

March 2, 2013 — With a municipal primary election just three days away, Los Angeles voters remain largely undecided about who should be L.A.’s next city attorney, according to a new USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/LA Times Los Angeles City Primary Poll.

When asked whom they would vote for, 40% of the 500 likely voters surveyed remain undecided among the four candidates vying for the position: former California State Assembly and L.A. City Council member Mike Feuer, incumbent L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and private lawyers Greg Smith and Noel Weiss.

Feuer leads the pack with 23.8%, followed by 16.4% for Trutanich, 15.2% for Smith, and 4.7% for Weiss. With no one likely to win a majority, the two top vote-getters will compete in a run-off election scheduled for May 21.

Historically L.A. primary elections have been low-turnout affairs. Moreover, to the extent that the electorate is engaged, the majority of focus so far has been on the race to succeed Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles. More USC Price/LA Times Poll results on the L.A. mayoral race will be released tomorrow, March 3.

“It’s not unusual for a down-ticket local election to draw relatively little attention,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Price/LA Times Poll and director of the USC Unruh Institute of Politics. “To the extent that voters know much about the candidates at all, this race is a referendum on Carmen Trutanich,” Schnur added. Given low voter awareness, he said, “the question is whether Trutanich’s name identification ultimately will help or harm him with voters at the poll.”

But with a large percentage of undecided voters up for grabs, front-runner Feuer should not take anything for granted: “This is a low turnout election with low voter awareness and low voter intensity,” Schnur said. “Feuer maintains a small advantage here, but either Smith’s advertising or Trutanich’s residual name identification could possibly change that.”

Proposition A Leading Slightly

The USC Price/LA Times Poll also surveyed likely voters about their attitude toward Proposition A, which, if enacted, would institute a one-half cent sales tax to provide funding for a number of municipal services. The poll shows the measure with 53.4% support and 40.6% opposed.

Support for a half-cent tax increase to provide funding for municipal services such as 911 emergency response services; firefighter, paramedic and police staffing levels; community policing, senior services, after-school gang and drug prevention programs; and repairing potholes and sidewalks was much higher among Latino voters. Among Latino voters, more than two-thirds (66.9%) support the proposition, and 28.9% oppose it.  Among White voters, 41.8% support the proposition and 51% oppose it.

A similar vote split among whites and Latinos occurred with the Proposition 30 campaign last year. “Latino voters appear much more willing to invest additional financial resources for what they believe to be necessary services than the rest of the electorate,” Schnur said. “Although Measure A is ahead in our poll, the fact that it’s so close to the fifty percent threshold puts it in a very precarious position. The key for supporters will be turning out the vote in the Latino community.”

The USC Price/LA Times Poll was conducted February 24-27 by M4 Strategies and Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of the USC Price School of Public Policy and the Los Angeles Times. The full sample carries a margin-of-error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

For more information about the USC Price/LA Times Poll, including methodology and cross-tabs, visit http://www.m4strategies.com/newsdisplay.php?vid=33. More results from the poll, including who’s ahead in the L.A. mayor’s race and the qualities voters want in their next mayor, will be released on Sunday, March 3.

TWITTER: @USCPricePolling

About the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/Los Angeles Times City Primary Poll
The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/Los Angeles Times City Primary Poll is a public polling initiative to survey voters during the critical 2013 mayoral campaign in Los Angeles. The project aims to inform the public, stimulate discourse and contribute to the USC Price School’s ongoing research and educational mission of improving the quality of life for people and their communities.

The poll is also supported by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy as well as the Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise.

About the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy
The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, established in 1929, is one of the premier schools of its kind in the nation. Through a time-honored commitment to public service, a legacy of strong connections to professional leaders and a world-renowned research portfolio, the school’s faculty, students and alumni work to improve the quality of life for people and their communities worldwide. The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy is at the forefront of research and teaching on today’s major issues, including: housing and real estate markets, environmental sustainability, health care, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, governance and leadership, nonprofits and philanthropy, civic engagement, immigration and the impact of terrorism.

About the Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.com draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.



Contact
: Merrill Balassone at (213) 509-7805 or balasson@usc.edu or Mike Gaetani at gaetani@price.usc.edu