Congresswoman Karen Bass is heading into the homestretch of the midterms as the frontrunner in the Los Angeles mayor's race. Still, her opponent billionaire Rick Caruso is inching closer and narrowing the gap.
According to the new UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll, Bass holds a slight 3% lead with registered voters — 34% to Caruso's 31% — which is within the poll's margin of error. However, Bass still holds a commanding 15-point lead among likely voters, attaining 46% to Caruso's 31%.
"No. 1 the race is frightening a little bit," said LMU Political Science Professor Fernando Guerra. "I fully expected that after Labor Day. What's great about this poll, it is the third in a series using the exact same methodology, using a very large sample size. I think it really tracks what really happening with their samples they've been looking at."
Caruso's ability to tap into his multi-billion dollar fortune makes the race harder to predict heading toward the finish line. He's already broken records with his campaign spending, According to city records, Caruso has spent about $62.6 million on his campaign, ten times more than Bass' total of about $6 million.
"What you're seeing right now with the Caruso campaign is a lot of ground game, meaning that they've hired a lot of people to walk and go face-to-face and interact with voters throughout the city. And I think that's paying dividends," said Guerra.
Still, Congresswoman Bass' decades of public service are resonating with voters.
"Bass has got more of a political background dealing with school issues, inner city issues, " said one Bass supporter. "If it;s any issue dealing with infrastructure, she's got the backing for it."
But others say Caruso is the agent of change the city needs.
"Economy is bad right now. The economy is bad," he said. "Gasoline goes up. Everything goes up."
Meanwhile in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's race, the poll some troubling signs for incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva. According to the poll, his opponent retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna leads with 36% of the vote to Villanueva's 26%. About 36% of voters remain undecided.
"The Sheriff has a very high degree of difficulty," said Guerra. "Seventy percent of the voters in the June primary said we want someone else. I fully expect that Luna, who got a little bit more than half of Villanueva got, would surpass him when it was one-on-one and that happened. There are still a lot of undecideds. It's not a foregone conclusion."
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