Friday, April 5, 2013 at 12:13 p.m.
Today we have two new polls in the L.A. mayor's race, and both show Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel in a statistical dead heat.
The Garcetti campaign dismissed the numbers, while the Greuel campaign embraced them as a sign that she has "momentum" following her second-place finish in the March 5 primary. As is usually the case, there's ample reason to be skeptical about these numbers, so let's get into it.
The first poll is from Tulchin Research, and was conducted March 28-April 2 on behalf of Dennis Zine's campaign for city controller.
The survey included 600 likely voters, with a 4% margin of error. There's nothing obviously strange about that result. But then look at the result in the controller's race:
Dennis Zine 48
Ron Galperin 24
Something's off there. Just last month, Galperin beat Zine 37.8% to 36.5% in the primary. Parke Skelton, Galperin's consultant, issued a memo last night calling the poll "preposterous on its face."
"For Zine's numbers to be correct, over 1/3 of Galperin's voters in March would have had to have decided to change their vote and support Zine," Skelton said. "This is simply impossible since almost nothing has happened since March that would have changed anyone's vote."
Tulchin has also been wrong before. In January, they did a poll
for City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, which showed him beating challenger Mike Feuer by 42-19 when voters were informed about the candidates. Feuer ended up beating Trutanich 44-30 in the primary.
Now, the Zine poll could be wrong about Zine and right about the mayor's race. But it's also possible that skewing the poll in Zine's favor would also end up skewing the mayor's race in Greuel's favor, since they share the same Valley base.
Hard to draw too many conclusions from that one. But there's another poll. This one comes from the "Yes on F, No on D," campaign, which is sponsored by medical marijuana dispensaries. It was conducted March 21-28:
The survey included 1032 respondents, with a 3.1% margin of error. The turnout projection is 20-22%, and the Latino share of the sample is 20%.
Turnout in the primary was 21%, and it typically goes up a few points in the runoff, so this might be lowballing it just a bit. But it's not too far off. Another thing to note: The "Yes on F, No on D" campaign did not release the results for Measures F and D, which suggests they were not favorable.
The Garcetti campaign also argued that results are unreliable because the pollster also works for Working Californians, the union-funded independent group that is backing Greuel.
"This poll comes from the DWP union's polling firm. Obviously they're promoting Wendy Greuel and are not credible," said Jeff Millman, Garcetti's spokesman. "Let's remember they claimed Greuel would win the primary, and then she lost by 15,000 votes to Eric Garcetti."
In response, Michael Bustamante, a consultant working for the "Yes on F, No on D" campaign, said the marijuana group "has no affiliation with any (mayoral) campaigns, and is not supported by the (DWP) union."
The Greuel campaign, meanwhile, argued that both polls show that her recent spate of endorsements from Bill Clinton, Magic Johnson and others has been "game-changing."
"These new poll numbers show that Wendy's message of leading L.A. forward and breaking the paralysis at City Hall is resonating with voters across the city," said Greuel spokeswoman Shannon Murphy.
Two other polls were released last week. One, from Survey USA
, showed Garcetti up 47-40. It was conducted March 23-26 -- the same time the dead-heat marijuana poll was in the field. However, Survey USA uses robocalls, which results in a sample that bears little resemblance to the composition of the electorate.
The other poll
comes from Lots of People Who Support Eric Garcetti for Mayor, an independent expenditure committee that wears its bias on its sleeve. That poll was conducted by David Binder Research on March 18 and 19. It showed Garcetti up 46-38 (with leaners included), or 40-35 (without leaners).
Take it all with salt.