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Andre Pineda dies at 46; pollster aided top Democrats

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Andre Pineda, a Democratic pollster and expert on the burgeoning clout of Latino voters, died this week. He was 46.

He died Tuesday after jumping off Pasadena's Colorado Street Bridge.

Pineda, a native of South Pasadena, built an international campaign practice on the strength of his experience in several facets of electioneering, including direct-mail and field organization as well as opinion polling. His clients included a number of corporations and philanthropic groups along with a roster of Democratic candidates and causes.

In 2008, Pineda was the pollster for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential campaign. After Richardson left the race, Pineda joined Barack Obama's general election effort, working on surveys to help boost Latino support.

Richard Schlackman, who hired Pineda in Washington in the mid-1990s for his San Francisco-based consulting firm, said Pineda was the rare practitioner who combined creativity with a facility for number-crunching. "It's why our [campaign] mail was so good, and that was back in the days before micro-targeting," said Schlackman, referring to the computerized data sifting that has become today's political norm.

Pineda was born Oct. 23, 1964, and attended South Pasadena's public schools. He studied math and computer science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and earned a master's degree in public policy from the University of Michigan.

He worked for a number of major Democratic polling and consulting firms before establishing his one-man operation in Pasadena.

Pineda's Facebook page was filled this week with tributes, including testimonials from many of the young people he mentored. He taught a class on opinion polling at USC and was a frequent visitor on campus. The university has established an annual award in his name, for students interested in pursuing political careers.

Apart from his campaign work, Pineda loved to travel and was an avid bicycler — he prided himself on navigating Southern California via public transit — and wine aficionado.

Pineda is survived by his wife, Araceli Ruano, a leader of the liberal Center for American Progress; a brother and his parents.

Services are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena.

mark.barabak@latimes.com

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