Sherman leads Berman in USC poll of Valley voters

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A USC poll taken days before one of the hottest congressional primaries in the nation shows Rep. Brad Sherman leading fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman, 31.7% to 24%, with more than 23% of those surveyed saying they had not yet made up their minds.

The five other candidates in the contest for the San Fernando Valley’s 30th Congressional District placed in single digits in the poll. Many experts expect the costly Berman/Sherman clash to continue into the November general election.


Under the state’s new election system, only the first- and second-place primary finishers, regardless of any party affiliation, can compete in the fall.

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences on Sunday released the online and Smartphone survey of 329 registered primary election voters. It was conducted by M4 Strategies and Tulchin Research from May 29 through 31 and had a sampling error of 5.4 percentage points.

Samples were controlled for demographic characteristics and party registration. Participants were offered modest monetary compensation, and procedures were put in place to limit frequent survey-takers and discourage participants from rushing through the survey.

The poll also tested the effectiveness of two of the campaign ads that have been running. Participants viewed positive-message spots, one supporting Berman and another supporting Sherman. Asked how they would vote after seeing the ads, 39.6% chose Sherman and 30.1% picked Berman.

Participants cited the economy and jobs as the top issues that would influence their votes, with taxes and healthcare next.

Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, said the survey showed both Berman and Sherman were doing well in the parts of the new district that each currently represents in his old district. The two veteran congressmen’s homes wound up in the same district in last year’s redrawing of state political maps, and both insisted on seeking reelection in that district.


Democrats outnumber Republicans there, 48% to 26%.

“The irony,” said Schnur, a former GOP strategist, “is that in this Democratic district, it is the Republican voters that could determine the outcome in the fall.”

Berman has been courting Republican voters since early in the campaign, and Schnur expects Sherman to follow suit.


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-- Jean Merl