It's great that a third of 1,100 people polled already care. After all, L.A. voters don't watch City Hall as they should. Many can't name a council member. They vote for most handsome or best dresser. Some intriguing trends in Loyola Marymount University's poll:
One fascinating question shows that of Angelenos who give Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a "D" or an "F," Zev Yaroslavsky and Wendy Greuel are well in front. They are trailed by Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, Kevin James and Austin Beutner, in that order:
Political wags wrote in 2005 that a "coalition of voters" elected Antonio as mayor.
In fact, voters do not form coalitions.
Voters go with their gut. The camera was kinder to Antonio, with his nice teeth and snappy hairdo. The camera was unkind to earnest, shambling former California Speaker Bob Hertzberg and too-camera-shy Mayor James Hahn (now a judge).
Hertzberg didn't make the runoff between Hahn and Villaraigosa. Yet he was eerily prescient, writing up a report warning about a fiscal disaster coming to L.A. city government.
L.A. voters were bored by such serious issues -- at least in 2005.
This new LMU poll shows a big difference in mayoral preferences between those who think L.A. is headed the "right direction" and those who think the city is headed the "wrong direction."
People think L.A. is headed the right direction? Anyway, the poll shows:
This very season, Los Angeles is facing a possible municipal bankruptcy. It has been heading that way for years.
As the Weekly has reported, Villaraigosa spends very little time on serious mayoral duties and work. He goes to a lot of ceremonies and photo ops, and has begun spending even more time out of town (for key background see the Weekly's 2008 report, "The All About Me Mayor," and sidebar "How Mayor Villaraigosa Spends his 16 Hour Days").
L.A. has the potential to become the first really big American city to go bankrupt, much as New York City nearly went bankrupt in 1975.
City government employee unions and Villaraigosa are going to war and things are going to get ugly -- or juicy, if that's how you see things.
Does this mean that 2013's mayoral race will draw voters toward substance over style?
But the LMU poll shows that the race is wide open. So you never know. Here's another fascinating trend in the data. Highly educated people prefer Zev Yaroslavsky and Wendy Greuel, while uneducated people prefer Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry:
If nothing else, the poll gives new grist to the politically addicted folks who are debating this race months before most voters pay it any attention at all.