Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LMU exit poll: LA's black voters favor tax, criminal justice and food label measures over other groups

Grant Slater/KPCC

Grand Park Election Night Party on November 6, 2012.

Loyola Marymount University's exit poll of Los Angeles residents shows that African American voters supported statewide tax measures and easing criminal justice penalties at higher levels than the region's other racial and ethnic groups.

Those results come as no surprise to Fernando J. Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at LMU, which organizes the quadrennial poll. He said African American Angelenos have been leading the city's, state's and nation's liberal shift for a long time.

"We've seen a trend of African Americans moving from the Republican to the Democratic party and now it's almost unanimous," Guerra said. African American support for President Obama's reelection was 93 percent nationally, and 99 percent in Los Angeles, according to the poll.

He said the poll also showed that Prop 30 would not have won statewide without the very high level of support it had from Los Angeles voters.

The LMU  poll questioned voters at 10 polling places of each racial/ethnic category: White, Black/African American, Latino, Asian, and Mixed precincts. The margin of error for the entire poll is plus or minus 1.9 percent, and the margin of error for the African Americans and Latinos surveyed is about the same or smaller becasue those groups were over-sampled, Guerra said.

Los Angeles' African American voters voiced the strongest support for Prop 30's combined income and sales tax with four out of every five black voters polled saying they voted for Prop 30. About three-quarters of Latinos supported Prop 30.  

The other major tax issue, Prop 38, which would have increased taxes on the highest income residents, failed statewide. However, 56 percent of the Black voters polled in Los Angeles said they favored it. Support for the measure was in the 40s for Asians and Latinos, and got only 29 percent support among the poll's white voters.

Measure J, a Los Angeles County measure to continue a one-half cent sales tax for 30 years, needs a two-thirds majority to pass, and with at least 300,000 mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted, appeared to be losing with about 64.7 percent. On this measure 64 percent of black voters said they supported the tax, while about 60 percent of Latino, white and Asian voters said they approved.

Prop 34, to eliminate California's death penalty failed statewide, but the exit poll of Los Angeles voters found 62 percent favored getting rid of it. The poll said 70 percent of blacks favored eliminating executions, while just 45 percent of the Asian voters polled agreed. Latinos and whites were in the middle with about 63 percent favoring the end of capital punishment.

The other criminal justice measure on the ballot, Prop 36, to revise the Three Strikes Law passed statewide. Prop 36 also found high favor among white and black Los Angeles voters with about 80 percent favoring the revision, according to the poll. The Three Strikes law gave long prison terms to felons who committed a third crime, even one that might not be as serious as prior offenses.

The question of whether foods carrying genetically modified ingredients should have special labels also showed strong differences between black and other voters in Los Angeles. The poll said 68 percent of black voters favored Prop 37, but only 55 to 58 percent of Asian, white and Latino voters said they voted for it.

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Can the growing California Latino voting population swing House races?

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NASA

Former NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez is running for Congress as a Democrat in a Central Valley district with a growing Latino population.

Could the record number of eligible Latino voters tip the November election in some California Congressional races? Maybe.

Earlier this week, the Pew Hispanic Center reported that the number of Latinos who are eligible to vote has jumped 22 percent from 2008. That's got the attention of candidates at all levels.

Amid ads for the two Presidential candidates, you might stumble onto one for a Congressional race, funded by the Democratic House Majority PAC. In one instance, an ad depicts a star-filled sky above a farm field. The voiceover in Spanish says: "A boy from the valley saw the stars. He saw men go to the moon and dreamed. Jose Hernandez lived his dream."

Former astronaut Hernandez is trying to unseat freshman Republican Congressman Jeff Denham in the Central Valley. The district is split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans, though pollsters say it leans Republican. The district has a growing number of Latino residents — 40 percent of the population vs 46 percent Anglo. 

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A record number of Latinos are eligible to vote, but will they?

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The number of eligible Latino voters has grown dramatically since 2008, but registration and turnout remain challenges.

There are a record number of Latinos eligible to vote in this year's election, according to a new report. But how many will actually make it to the polls remains the bigger question.

There are now close to 24 million Latinos in the United States who are eligible to vote, according to the report from the Pew Hispanic Center, upwards of four million more than there were in 2008. Pew researchers came up with the number after crunching census data.

But Latino turnout has traditionally been unimpressive, and there's a chance these potential voters could continue to fall behind in voter participation. Even in 2008, some 50 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared with two-thirds of black voters and white voters.

In addition, eligibility to vote doesn't equal registration. In spite of a growing Latino U.S. population — with the bulk of the growth now coming from native-born Latinos, not immigrants — the number of Latinos who said they are registered to vote went down between 2008 and 2010, according to Pew.

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