Updated below. Campaign finance figures show Greuel is running on empty.
A new poll in the L.A. mayor's race shows Wendy Greuel up by one point over Eric Garcetti, a sign that her campaign's decision to spend $1.4 million on an unusually early TV ad blitz may have paid off.
The poll, by the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., was conducted April 29-May 7. It shows Greuel at 46% to Garcetti's 45%, with 9% undecided. The margin of error is 4%.
Greuel was trailing by 10 points in the USC/L.A. Times poll on April 21. At the same time, her campaign launched a massive TV buy, spending nearly all its cash reserves on two commercials — one highlighting her endorsements and another attacking Garcetti for supporting digital billboards.
This is the second poll to show that Greuel has gained significant ground since mid-April. (The third, if you count Survey USA, which we don't.) The other one was released last week by Working Californians, the pro-Greuel independent committee funded by the Department of Water and Power union. In that poll, Garcetti led by a point, 39% to 38%.
Jeff Millman, Garcetti's spokesman, said that today's poll “seems like an outlier based on what we've seen.”
“Either way, Greuel's out of money, so how's she going to win?” he said.
The poll shows Greuel doing much better with women voters, with a 15-point advantage. That's a 24-point swing from the USC/L.A. Times poll, which showed her trailing among women by 9 points. Men are unchanged between the two polls.
The poll also showed a 25-point swing to Greuel among white voters compared with the USC/L.A. Times poll, and a 29-point swing among union households.
The poll was mostly done before Garcetti launched his own negative ad, which attacks Greuel as “the DWP's mayor.” The Garcetti campaign has blanketed the airwaves with that ad, pulling down its positive spot.
Greuel is now struggling to stay on TV, having emptied the cupboard in April. Working Californians and the L.A. Police Protective League are picking up some of the slack, but they must pay a significantly higher rate for TV airtime.
Today's poll did offer one bright spot for Garcetti. About 51% of respondents predict he will win, compared to 31% who think Greuel will win.
The sample size is 674 likely voters. The sample is 29% Latino, 44% white, 12% black and 9% Asian. The poll director, Susan Pinkus, used random digit dialing and screened the respondents based in part on their report of their voting history.
Update: 12:18 a.m. We knew Greuel was in dire financial straits. But campaign finance reports released this evening show just how dire. As of May 4, Greuel had just $275,000 in the bank, against debts of $535,000. Half of that debt is to her consultant, John Shallman, apparently for a 35-page glossy pamphlet she mailed all over the city.
Garcetti had $2.28 million in the bank, and debts of just $105,000. That puts his campaign in position to pummel her on TV all the way to election day. And she can do very little to respond, other than hope her labor allies can even the score a bit.
Over the last month, Greuel raised $1.05 million. Garcetti well outpaced her, at $1.65 million.
Still, obviously, anybody's to win. And today's poll will help persuade Greuel's independent backers to keep the cash spigot turned on. But to borrow a sports term, she does not control her own destiny.