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In L.A. mayor's race, an early poll favors Garcetti, but ....

December 03, 2012|By Jim Newton
  • Los Angeles mayoral candidates Jan Perry, left, Kevin James and Wendy Greuel listen to Eric Garcetti during the candidates debate in Hollywood on Sept. 19.
Los Angeles mayoral candidates Jan Perry, left, Kevin James and Wendy Greuel… (Los Angeles Times )

The mayoral campaign of Eric Garcetti used a new poll Monday to tout its candidate's early strength, while acknowledging that there are miles to go before Los Angeles elects its next mayor.

Bill Carrick, the Garcetti campaign's chief strategist, said the poll by Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles demonstrated that Garcetti's slim lead -- he was favored by 36.1% to Controller Wendy Greuel's 32.3% -- is bolstered by its breadth. As I reported in Monday's paper, Garcetti led across a number of demographic categories, including Latinos, Asians, Democrats, union households and voters of every education level as well as most income levels.

The campaign's principal challenge, Carrick said, is to reach across the city and expand the traditional voting base for a mayoral campaign. Garcetti leads strongly among Latinos and Asians, for instance, and turning out that vote will be crucial for him. Carrick predicted that at least 25% of the vote for mayor in March will come from Latinos, continuing the steady growth of that segment of the electorate. Some observers have speculated that Latino turnout may drop this time because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa won't be on the ballot, and though Garcetti is of Mexican American descent, that fact may not be universally known.

Greuel led in the poll among white voters and Republicans as well as San Fernando Valley residents. Both candidates trailed City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who is African American, among blacks.

Carrick acknowledged that expanding the electorate to bring out Garcetti's base will be a "difficult and challenging task" but said the campaign was prepared for it.

Even as the Garcetti camp welcomed the poll results, others either downplayed them or emphasized different aspects of the survey. It was taken on election day in November and surveyed voters as they left their polling places, so it does not capture those who voted by mail. Moreover, two-thirds of those surveyed said they had no opinion in the mayor's race, so many voters remain up for grabs. Finally, though Garcetti won in the hypothetical first round of the election, once he was paired against Greuel one-on-one, she narrowly defeated him.

Proof that, if nothing else, there's a long way to go in this campaign.

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Jim Newton’s latest book is "Eisenhower: The White House Years." Reach him at jim.newton@latimes.com or follow him on Twitter: @newton_jim.

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