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The Times Poll : Bradley Holds Huge Lead in Mayoral Race

March 24, 1985|BILL BOYARSKY | Times City-County Bureau Chief

A strong feeling that Mayor Tom Bradley did a good job on the 1984 Olympics is a major factor in helping him build a huge lead over City Councilman John Ferraro, who is unknown by 40% of the voters with the election a little more than two weeks away.

That is a finding of a Los Angeles Times Poll, which gave the mayor a 62% to 22% lead over Ferraro in the April 9 municipal primary election.

The survey also showed that Los Angeles City Controller James K. Hahn is far ahead in the race for city attorney with 44%, although still short of the majority needed to avoid a June runoff election. Even though their advertising campaigns have started, his two best-financed challengers, attorneys Murray Kane and Lisa Specht, are far behind--Specht with 7% and Kane with 5%.

And 65% of those responding to the survey did not express an opinion in the contest for controller, the job that Hahn is vacating. The candidate with the largest following, Dan Shapiro, had only 14%.

Campaign Limits Favored

City Charter Amendment 1, which would limit campaign contributions in city elections, is far ahead with 64% support, the survey showed. But on City Charter Amendment 2--which would expand the City Council from 15 to 17 seats to make it easier for minorities to be elected--respondents split almost evenly, 39% for to 42% against.

A June ballot measure that would raise property taxes to increase the size of the Police Department was supported by a majority of those surveyed--but was still short the two-thirds majority that would be needed for approval.

The Times Poll, under the direction of I. A. Lewis, was taken by telephone for six days ending last Thursday. A total of 2,241 respondents were polled, of which 555 were registered voters living in the city of Los Angeles. The answers of the Los Angeles residents were used for this story.

The poll showed that Ferraro has made little headway against the heavily favored incumbent, despite campaigning hard since January. Ferraro has used a strong mail and television advertising campaign to attack the mayor.

Favorable Overall Impression

Seventy-six percent of those surveyed had a favorable overall impression of Bradley, and 74% said they approved of the way he does his job. Overwhelming support came from every section of the city, including the San Fernando Valley, where Ferraro has tried hard to make inroads. A conservative Democrat, Ferraro expected to do well among the Valley's largely conservative, white, middle-class residents. He has made some of his strongest attacks from there against the mayor, who is black and a liberal Democrat.

Bradley led Ferraro 55% to 29% on the Westside; 58% to 23% in the San Fernando Valley; 59% to 21% in Central Los Angeles, which includes Ferraro's own mid-Wilshire 4th City Council District, and 78% to 15% in South Los Angeles.

Bradley's support came from every age, ethnic and economic group.

Men favored him 60% to 24%, women 64% to 20%. Blacks backed the mayor 82% to 11%, Latinos 52% to 21% and whites 57% to 27%. High-income people supported Bradley as strongly as did those with low incomes. His support among management, blue-collar and white-collar workers was equally high.

Bradley had the support of 66% of Protestants, 55% of the Roman Catholics and 68% of Jews.

Olympics Noted

The Olympics led the list of specific positive qualities that voters attributed to Bradley.

Thirty-six percent said, "He did a good job on the Olympics." His second-best quality was that he "represents all the people in the city fairly"--21% said that. And 12% gave Bradley credit for rebuilding downtown. Only 6% praised him for accomplishments in the transit field, showing public recognition of Bradley's failure to keep his promise to bring rail rapid transit to the city.

The depths of Ferraro's political troubles in the final weeks of the campaign were clearly shown by a poll finding that 40% of the voters were not aware of him, compared with just 6% for Bradley, a major political figure since the mid-1960s, mayor for three terms and the 1982 Democratic candidate for California governor.

Only 31% had a favorable opinion of Ferraro.

Recognition Problem

Ferraro was least known in heavily black South Los Angeles. But even in Central Los Angeles, only 25% were unaware of Ferraro. And in the Valley, so crucial to his hopes, 33% did not know who he was.

The finding that Ferraro has weak name recognition at this late stage reflects a campaign strategy that has concentrated mostly on attacking Bradley, rather than building up the councilman.

A substantial portion of Ferraro's financial support comes from Republicans, including backers of Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, who defeated Bradley in 1982. Ferraro's campaign manager is Republican consultant Ron Smith. That, plus recent Deukmejian criticism of the mayor, has led to speculation that the GOP is using Ferraro to weaken Bradley in case the mayor wants to run against Deukmejian again.

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