Poll Analysis: ...and Then There Were Three

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     The playing field has narrowed as the city of Los Angeles mayoral election comes down the final stretch, according to a new Los Angeles Times Poll. With just one week to go, it is promising to be a remarkably close contest among the three candidates that have emerged as the frontrunners. It is anyone's guess as to which of the two candidates will be in the June 5th runoff. Among likely voters:

City Attorney James Kenneth Hahn 24%
State Legislator Antonio Villaraigosa 20%
Businessman/Parks Commissioner Steve Soboroff 18%
City Councilman Joel Wachs 11%
U.S. Congressman Xavier Beccerra 6%
City Controller Kathleen Connell 6%
Undecided 75%

Certainty of Vote and Second Choice
     Two thirds of likely voters say they are certain about voting for their candidate and all candidates have solidified their voters behind them. More than 3 out of five likely Hahn voters say they are certain to vote for him, while more than two-thirds of Villaraigosa's voters and more than 7 out of 10 of Soboroff's voters are sure they will vote for their candidates. As the race gets closer to the election, voters are more focused and closer to deciding who their candidate will be. There are a few ways that this is shown. First, in a Times' late February poll, likely voters only saw a couple of candidates on the airwaves (Hahn and Soboroff were the only two) and had no idea who many of the candidates were and where they stood on different issues. This was seen by the softness of the certainty of the vote. Large majorities said they could vote for someone else (except for Hahn, where 74% of his voters were certain they would vote for him).
     Secondly, the opinions of the candidates by the voters. In the last poll most people hadn't heard of or knew anything about the candidates to form an opinion (except for Hahn who received a 60% favorable rating and Wachs, a 51% favorable opinion). But in the recent poll, this has changed. For example, Villaraigosa improved his positive ratings among likely voters by 17 points (from 36% to 53%) while his unfavorable ratings increased by 5 points (from 14% to 19%). About 3 in 10 still could not form an opinion of him, compared to 75% in the last poll. Soboroff increased his favorability rating by 12% (from 30% to 42%), but he also increased the unfavorable opinion of him by 11 points (from 14% to 25%) and a third were unsure (down from 56%). Hahn, the only candidate that most people knew, increased his positive ratings to 67% (from 60%) and his unfavorable rating by only two points to 18%.

  Favorable Unfavorable Don't Know
  Hahn   67%   18%   15%
  Villaraigosa   53%   19%   28%
  Connell   53%   21%   26%
  Wachs   53%   25%   22%
  Soboroff   42%   25%   33%
  Becerra   26%   13%   61%

When asked who would be their second choice if their candidate did not win, 20% said Kathleen Connell would be their second choice, followed by Hahn at 19%, Villaraigosa at 15%, Wachs at 13%, Soboroff at 7% and Becerra at 5%.

As a second choice:

Hahn's voters would go to:
     Connell (26%), Villaraigosa (22%), Wachs (16%), Soboroff (12%), and 2% for Becerra. 13% would have no second choice.

Soboroff voters would support:
     Connell (26%), Wachs (21%), Hahn (17%), 3% for Villaraigosa and 2% for Becerra. However a large 24% would not consider another candidate.

Villaraigosa voters would support:
     38% for Hahn, 15% for Becerra, 11% each for Connell and Wachs and 5% for Soboroff. 11% would have no second choice candidate.

Wachs voters would support:
     29% for Connell, 20% for Hahn, 16% for Soboroff, 15% for Villaraigosa and 10% would not have a second choice.

Connell voters would give their vote to:
     40% Hahn, 16% each for Wachs and Villaraigosa, 10% Becerra and 9% no second choice.

Becerra voters would vote for:
     71% Villaraigosa, 17% Hahn, and 5% Connell.

Do Endorsements and Being of the Same Ethnicity/Racial Group Help
     When likely voters were asked if it was important that the next mayor of Los Angeles be someone from their own ethnic or racial group, just 13% of all likely voters say it is important. This is a shift from the February poll when 21% thought it was an important part of their decision making process when they considered a candidate as their choice for mayor. It was, however, important to less than one in ten of the likely white voters, 14% of black voters, but 23% of Latino voters. Of the Latino likely voters who say they would vote for a candidate with the same ethnicity, 30% would vote for Becerra and 33% for Villaraigosa.
     In this poll, there were enough Jewish likely voters to analyze and the results were surprising. More than a third of this group (35%) say they will vote for Villaraigosa. The two Jewish candidatesÑWachs and SoboroffÑtogether received 32% of this group's vote, less than what Villaraigosa received. Wachs received 18% of the Jewish vote, while 14% supported Soboroff. One in 10 (11%) supported Hahn's candidacy, while 4% went for Connell and 1% for Becerra. The Catholic vote was divided among all the candidates, but Villaraigosa edged out Hahn and Soboroff by 6 and 7 points respectively (Villaraigosa, 23% vs. Hahn 17% vs. Soboroff 16%); and the Protestant voters went to Hahn at 30%, compared to Soboroff at 22% and 13% for Villaraigosa.
     Interestingly, the Riordan endorsement of Soboroff and the Davis endorsement of Villaraigosa, either has no effect or a slight negative effect among all likely voters, but a positive effect on the candidate's voters.

  Riordan Endorsement Davis Endorsement
  All Soboroff All Villaraigosa
  LV's Voters LV's Voters
More Likely 14% 44% 14% 30%
Less Likely 20% 3% 21% 4%
No Effect 63% 53% 64% 64%

What Should Mayor's Top Issue Be and What Characteristics Voters are Looking for in a Mayor
     Education is the top issue voters would like the mayor to consider once he or she is elected. More than 2 out of five likely voters mentioned that as their top priority, followed by crime and gangs (25%), police matters/behavior (20%) and the energy crisis (18%). In the February poll, the top issue was also education, but it was mentioned by 33% of the voters. Economy was mentioned by 10% of the voters, but in the current poll it is a mere 3%. However, the energy crisis was only at 7% in the February poll, which was before the announcement of a 40% increase in utility bills.

Of those who mention education:
     • 25% would vote for Hahn
     • 23% for Villaraigosa

Of those who mention crime and gangs:
     • 23% would support Hahn
     • 20% for Soboroff; (17% for Villaraigosa)

Of those who mention police matters:
     • 28% would vote for Hahn
     • 25% for Villaraigosa; (17% for Soboroff)

And of those who mention the energy crisis:
     • 23% for Hahn
     • 21% for Villaraigosa

     The quality voters want most in their next mayor is honesty and integrity (39%) and a strong leader (13%). Of those who mention honesty and integrity, 24% would vote for Hahn, 23% for Villaraigosa and 19% for Soboroff. And of those who mention a strong leader, a third would support Hahn.

Bird's Eye View of Some Demographics
Hahn Supporters:
     • 63% are likely black voters
     • 26% are Democrats
     • 46% live in the southern part of the city
     • 34% describe themselves as moderates
     • 32% are Democratic women
     • 30% are moderate Democrats
     • 28% are women
     • 31% are 65 years of age and older
     • 27% have a high school diploma or less; 32% have some college
     • 27% are union members
     • 30% are in households with income less than $40,000
     • 23% are married women
     • 30% are non-Catholic Christians

Soboroff Supporters:
     • 51% are likely Republican voters
     • 26% live on the Westside; 29% are white Westsiders
     • 25% live in the San Fernando Valley; 28% are white San Fernando Valleyites
     • 27% are white
     • 21% are between the ages 18 and 44
     • 36% describe themselves as conservatives
     • 57% are Republican men
     • 61% are conservative Republicans
     • 55% are white conservatives
     • 25% are men
     • 27% are in households with income of more than $60,000
     • 26% voted for Riordan in 1997; 34% voted for Riordan in 1993
     • 33% are white non-Catholic Christians

Villaraigosa Supporters:
     • 28% are likely Democratic voters
     • 24% live on the Westside; 26% are white Westsiders
     • 25% live in the central part of the city
     • 26% are Latinos (23% of Latinos will vote for Becerra)
     • 37% describe themselves as liberals
     • 30% are Democratic men; 27% Democratic women
     • 40% are liberal Democrats
     • 22% are men
     • 22% are between the ages of 18 and 44; 24% are between 45 and 64
     • 26% have a college degree or more
     • 26% are union members
     • 25% have households with income of more than $60,000
     • 35% are Jewish; 23% Catholic

City Attorney and City Controller
     Among likely voters, City Councilman Mike Feuer holds a slight lead over his opponents:

City Councilman Mike Feuer: 20%
Deputy Mayor Rocky Delgadillo: 15
Deputy District Attorney Lea Purwin D'Agostino: 12
Deputy District Attorney Frank Tavelman: 3
Don't know: 50

And City Councilwoman Laura Chick holds a commanding lead over her opponents:

City Councilwoman Laura Chick: 37%
Financial Consultant Mervin Evans: 11
Business Executive Laurette Healey: 11
Don't know 41

How the Poll Was Conducted
     The Times Poll contacted 1,528 registered voters in the city of Los Angeles, including 769 likely voters, by telephone March 28ÐApril 1. Likely voters were derived by assigning a likely voter score to questions asked of respondents about their voting history, intention to vote, interest in the election and whether they are a first-time voter. Telephone numbers were chosen from a list of all exchanges in the city of Los Angeles. Random-digit dialing techniques were used so that listed and unlisted numbers could be contacted. The entire sample was weighted slightly to conform with census figures for sex, race, age, education and region. The margin of sampling error for likely voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Since the Poll doesn't analyze any subgroup with fewer than 100 respondents, 346 African Americans and 592 Latinos were oversampled to achieve that result in the likely voter category. They were then weighted to their population size within the city. For certain subgroups the error margin may be somewhat higher. Poll results can also be affected by other factors such as question wording and the order in which questions are presented. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Asians were interviewed as part of the overall sample, but there were not enough to break out as a separate subgroup.