Diverse Areas Surveyed : Votes in 6 Communities Mirror Statewide Tallies

Times Staff Writers

So-called Reagan Democrats went for George Bush in a middle-class Canoga Park neighborhood and Michael S. Dukakis in sections of middle-income Sylmar and affluent Encino. Bush also carried an upper-middle-class Porter Ranch neighborhood. Dukakis, meanwhile, won neighborhoods in lower-income Pacoima and blue-collar Van Nuys.

Voters in diverse neighborhoods in Pacoima, Porter Ranch, Van Nuys and Sylmar voted against both the pro-oil drilling and the anti-oil drilling initiatives. And communities throughout the San Fernando Valley overwhelmingly favored Proposition 103, the Ralph Nader-backed initiative to roll back auto insurance rates by 20% and reform the insurance regulatory process.

Higher-income communities in Encino and Porter Ranch supported Proposition 99, which will increase state cigarette taxes, in far greater numbers than neighborhoods in Van Nuys, Sylmar, Canoga Park and Pacoima. Still, the measure won a majority of votes in all six communities.

And voters in those areas resoundingly opposed Proposition 102, which would have eliminated the guarantee of anonymity in testing for the AIDS virus.


Reflect Diversity

These were among the findings of an analysis by The Times of Tuesday’s returns in six neighborhoods chosen to reflect the Valley’s political, geographic, ethnic and class diversity. The unscientific study was based on complete but unofficial vote tallies from up to five precincts in each area.

In general, the Valley figures mirror the statewide, countywide and citywide votes. One possible exception was Proposition O, which prohibits oil drilling in Pacific Palisades. The measure won 52.3% of the vote in Los Angeles but apparently had less support in the Valley.

Valley voters in Democratic-leaning Encino and Republican-leaning Canoga Park precincts displayed the kind of ticket splitting that characterized Tuesday’s vote in many places nationwide. In contrast, Democrats in black and Latino Pacoima and Republicans in white, conservative Porter Ranch tended to vote along straight party lines.


In Encino, with its large Jewish community, Dukakis beat Bush 55% to 45%. This represents a dramatic turnaround from Republican Ronald Reagan’s 55%-45% victory over Democrat Walter F. Mondale 4 years ago in the same neighborhood, where Democrats have a substantial registration advantage.

Nonetheless, U.S. Sen Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy 54% to 46%. The crossover by Democrats may have reflected Wilson’s efforts to woo the Jewish community statewide or a failure by McCarthy’s expensive but low-key campaign to win over even some of Dukakis’ backers.

Returned to Party Line

After crossing over for Wilson, these Democrats returned to the party line in droves to vote for Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) and Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Tarzana), each of whom faced only token opposition. Berman won 72% of the neighborhood vote and Friedman 66%.

In Canoga Park, voters zig-zagged across the ballot to support Republicans Bush and Wilson, Democratic Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson of Tarzana and Republican Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette of Northridge. Beilenson and La Follette, both veteran lawmakers, easily defeated lesser-known challengers Tuesday.

In Sylmar, Dukakis also persuaded Reagan Democrats to return to the fold. The neighborhood, which has a growing Latino population, voted consistently Democratic on Tuesday. It gave Berman 70% of its vote and four-term Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda) 76%.

Statewide, Bush won 51% of the vote and Dukakis 47.7%. Dukakis carried Los Angeles County, however, by 52.1% to 46.7%. Wilson defeated McCarthy statewide, 52.6% to 44.2%; McCarthy won Los Angeles County by a 48.7% to 48.4% margin.

Anti-oil drilling Proposition O lost in four of the six Valley neighborhoods in The Times survey. The exceptions were in Encino, where it won 62% of the vote, and in Canoga Park, where 55% of the voters supported it. At the same time, however, pro-drilling Proposition P lost in all six areas.


Political analysts said confusion about the two initiatives may have led some voters to oppose both. Proponents of O maintained that Occidental Petroleum Corp. sought to confuse voters with its costly advertising campaign. If both measures had been shot down, Occidental would have been able to proceed with drilling.

The high Valley tallies for insurance initiative Proposition 103 are consistent with the results citywide. This may be because, in part, Los Angeles residents face higher insurance rates than drivers in less urbanized areas.

The measure passed statewide with 51.1% of the vote. In the Valley neighborhoods, it received 70% of the tally in Van Nuys, 68% in Canoga Park, and 65% each in Pacoima and Encino. Four other insurance initiatives were defeated.

The breakdown along income lines on Proposition 99, which will raise cigarette taxes 35 cents a pack, was not surprising. Political analysts said lower-income voters tend to smoke more heavily than the affluent, and the across-the-board tax hike will hit them particularly hard. The initiative still gained at least 51% of the vote in all six Valley neighborhoods. It won 57.8% of the vote statewide.

Proposition 102, which was opposed by health and civil-rights groups and supported by Gov. George Deukmejian, won no more than 37% in any of the six Valley areas. It lost statewide, 65.7% to 34.3%.

HOW THE VALLEY VOTED Figures are for selected precincts. Winners are in boldface. PACOIMA This is a heavily black and Latino and strongly Democratic neighborhood; its voters supported Democrat Walter F. Mondale over Republican Ronald Reagan nearly 2 to 1 in 1984.

Pres. Bush 26% Dukakis 74% U.S. Sen. Wilson 24% McCarthy 76% Prop. O Yes 36% No 64% Prop. P Yes 43% No 57% Prop. 99 Yes 55% No 45% Prop. 102 Yes 32% No 68% Prop. 103 Yes 65% No 35%

ENCINO This is an affluent, white neighborhood with a commanding Democratic registration advantage; its voters went for Reagan over Mondale, 55% to 45%, in 1984.


Pres. Bush 45% Dukakis 55% U.S. Sen. Wilson 54% McCarthy 46% Prop. O Yes 62% No 38% Prop. P Yes 31% No 69% Prop. 99 Yes 78% No 22% Prop. 102 Yes 27% No 73% Prop. 103 Yes 65% No 35%

PORTER RANCH This is a white, upper-middle-class community that is conservative and Republican; it went for Reagan over Mondale in 1984 by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

Pres. Bush 69% Dukakis 31% U.S. Sen. Wilson 73% McCarthy 27% Prop. O Yes 44% No 56% Prop. P Yes 44% No 56% Prop. 99 Yes 74% No 26% Prop. 102 Yes 37% No 63% Prop. 103 Yes 59% No 41%

VAN NUYS This is a predominantly white, blue-collar neighborhood; although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, the area favored Reagan over Mondale in 1984.

Pres. Bush 44% Dukakis 56% U.S. Sen. Wilson 46% McCarthy 54% Prop. O Yes 44% No 56% Prop. P Yes 41% No 59% Prop. 99 Yes 53% No 47% Prop. 102 Yes 32% No 68% Prop. 103 Yes 70% No 30%

CANOGA PARK This is a white, middle-income area with a slight Democratic registration edge; voters here supported Reagan over Mondale in 1984.

Pres. Bush 54% Dukakis 46% U.S. Sen. Wilson 58% McCarthy 42% Prop. O Yes 55% No 45% Prop. P Yes 39% No 61% Prop. 99 Yes 56% No 44% Prop. 102 Yes 32% No 68% Prop. 103 Yes 68% No 32%

SYLMAR This is a middle-income area with a fast-growing, upwardly mobile Latino population; although heavily Democratic, it voted for Reagan over Mondale in 1984.

Pres. Bush 47% Dukakis 53% U.S. Sen. Wilson 48% McCarthy 52% Prop. O Yes 37% No 63% Prop. P Yes 42% No 58% Prop. 99 Yes 51% No 49% Prop. 102 Yes 37% No 63% Prop. 103 Yes 64% No 36%