Caruso takes lead in race for LA mayor: LA Times poll

Billionaire developer inches ahead after $9 million in TV, digital ads

Rick Caruso and Representative Karen Bass (Getty, iStock)
Rick Caruso and Representative Karen Bass (Getty, iStock)

Developer Rick Caruso is a nose ahead oF Rep. Karen Bass, his chief rival in the race for Los Angeles mayor, according to the latest poll.

A primary held today would give Caruso 24 percent of likely voters, with 23 percent for Bass, setting up a November runoff, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored and first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Caruso runs as the candidate of change, supported by likely voters who disapprove of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who will term out of office. Those who approve of Garcetti favor Bass, which indicates she is the candidate of continuity.

The March 29 poll marked a major turning point for the campaign, which in February showed Bass far ahead of Caruso, who’d just entered the race and stood at 8 percent, according to a previous Berkeley IGS poll. Since then, his support has tripled while Bass lost a ground.

City Council Member Kevin de León, who had 8 percent support in February, is now a distant third at 6 percent. .

None of the nine other candidates competing in the June 7 primary had support of more than 2 percent of likely voters. About 40 percent of likely voters remained undecided. The runoff between the top two candidates will take place unless one receives more than 50 percent of the votes in the primary.

Caruso’s rise follows nearly $9 million he has spent on TV and digital advertising since February, while Bass has not aired TV ads.

“Caruso has had the airwaves to himself,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the IGS poll, a veteran of California politics. “It’s a classic case where he’s getting out in front, and he’s defining himself before his opponents can define him on their terms.”

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Many of his ads allege rising crime, and include testimonials from former Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton and references to Caruso’s time on the city’s police commission.

Caruso’s supporters are evenly spread among Republicans, Democrats and nonpartisan voters, according to the poll, while Bass’s supporters are overwhelmingly Democrats.

Caruso holds a large lead among whites who identify themselves as conservative or moderate. Bass, who is one of two Black members of Congress from Los Angeles County, has support of nearly half of likely Black voters and 40 percent of white liberals. Latino voters have not shown a clear favorite.

Black voters make up just under 1 in 10 of the city’s likely voters. White liberals, the largest voting bloc, make up 4 in 10.

The top issue among 61 percent of likely voters was homelessness. with no candidate having a clear advantage. Among 38 percent of likely voters who cited crime and public safety as the No. 1 issue, Caruso led Bass by 4-1.

Bass leads among voters most concerned about housing affordability, and also leads among voters most concerned about climate change or racial justice, both much smaller voter blocs.

[Los Angeles Times] – Dana Bartholomew

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