Angelenos will need to get to the polls if they want a say in who should get to the next level in the mayoral race (Photo Credit: Matthew Grant Anson)
It seems like it was just yesterday Angelenos headed to the polls to vote in the Presidential elections. Well, voters in Los Angeles will be at it again, tomorrow, March 5th, this time for the primary election to pick the city’s next mayor.
Current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be termed out; that’s why voters will be picking a new city leader. With eight candidates, five leading ones, voters should be tuned in, but according to a new USC Sol Price School of Public Policy/Los Angeles Times Los Angeles City Primary Poll, the primary election doesn’t have enough glitz and glamour.
“There’s not a lot of difference between the candidates, on the issues. But while these candidates are a very smart and capable group, none of them have the larger than life personality of an Antonio Villaraigosa or a Richard Riordan,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh School of Politics at USC.
The survey polled 500 voters and found L.A. councilmember Eric Garcetti ahead at 27 percent and L.A. controller Wendy Greuel at 25 percent. Behind them are prosecutor Kevin James at 15 percent and Councilwoman Jan Perry at 14 percent. Former technology executive Emanual Pleitez trailed at 5 percent.
“Local elections tend to get lower voter turnout than statewide or national campaigns. Add that to a list of candidates who have very little differences between them, and what you get is recipe for low voter turnout,” said Schnur.
Historically, L.A. primary elections have low-turnout affairs—less than 20 percent of voters cast their ballots.
“None of the candidates really grabbed the attention of the voters. We’re looking at a fairly low turn-out, we have a fairly high level of undecided voters and even those voters who have chosen a candidate don’t feel particularly strong about their choices.”
Although Garcetti and Greuel are running ahead, “in a low turnout election, you shouldn’t write off James or Perry. It would be a surprise if Garcetti or Greuel didn’t go on to the runoff, but not a huge one,” said Schnur.
And get this: when voters were asked if they prefer a candidate with experience inside government or outside with a fresh perspective, the voters, by 54 percent, said they wanted a candidate who knows how city government works.
“Even while some candidates are trying to position themselves as outsiders, the voters want an insider.”
No matter whom the voters chose, the next mayor will have a lot on his or her plate with a nine digit budget shortfall. Troubling economic issues are also big concerns for voters.
Twenty six percent said getting the city’s budget under control was a top issue, followed by 18 percent who said job creation and 17 percent who said improving schools.
“Our poll numbers show that most Angelenos are fairly optimistic about their own and personal economic situation. They don’t think Los Angeles is headed in the right direction, but because they feel better about their own circumstances, they’re not as frustrated and they’re not as angry as they have been in years past,” said Schnur.
Whether the candidates have left a lasting impression or not, the city of Angels will narrow down their choices to two for the runoff election in May.