Sheriff Lee Baca's Approval Rating Plummets, According to Rival's Poll

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Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 6:14 AM

  • L.A. County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff Lee Baca has had a rough couple of years, but it's gotten really bad in the last two weeks, ever since federal prosecutors brought corruption charges against 18 of his deputies.

Baca is up for re-election next year, and the unending scandals have taken a toll on his approval ratings. That's according to a new poll released today by one of Baca's opponents.

The survey shows that Baca's favorability rating has plunged in the last two years, and a majority of likely voters now disapprove of Baca's handling of his job. Not a good sign for the 71-year-old lawman.

The survey of 406 likely June voters was conducted Dec. 16-17 by EMC Research. It was paid for by the campaign of Bob Olmsted, a retired commander. The firm used live callers, not robocalls. Margin of error: 4.9%. As with any internal poll, take it with a grain of salt. 

With that, the results:

Baca (job approval)

Positive: 34%
Negative: 52%

Baca (favorability):
Favorable: 41%
Unfavorable: 33%

His favorability rating has declined sharply since the fall of 2011, according to another poll the Weekly obtained last month.

Baca (2011 favorability)
Favorable: 66%
Unfavorable: 23%

That's a 35-point drop in his net favorability rating in the last two years.

For a long time, Baca seemed to be coated in Teflon. But with the pileup of revelations about abuse in the jails and cronyism in the hiring process, the Teflon seems to be wearing off.

That said, the four-term incumbent is still beating his lesser-known opponents in a head-to-head matchup, even according to Olmsted's poll:

Lee Baca: 28%
Paul Tanaka: 11%
Bob Olmsted: 8%

The Olmsted forces, however, see opportunity in those numbers. Hardly anyone knows who Olmsted or Tanaka is yet. But 71% of voters know Baca,  yet only 28% are supporting him and a majority is undecided. That suggests they're willing to give someone else a look.

The bottom-line spin from Olmsted's pollster: "Once voters are reminded of the ongoing FBI investigation and former Sheriff's Commander Bob

Olmsted's role as a whistle-blower, the race shifts heavily in Olmsted's favor."

Of course, reminding voters of that will require advertising. And Olmsted will have to raise a lot of money between now and June to pay for it.

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