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Groundbreaking results highlight wide-open L.A. County District Attorney’s race

LOS ANGELES: As voters receive their March 5, 2024, California primary ballots by mail, KBLA Talk 1580 released the results of a countywide election issues survey of 500 Black likely voters. The poll, conducted by public opinion research firm EVITARUS, provides unique insights into Black voter sentiment and preferences on key political issues. Key poll finding include the following: 

L.A. County District Attorney’s Race: 

The survey results highlight that 51% of Black likely voters are following the L.A. County District Attorney’s closely, and nearly one-third (31%) say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming March Primary. In the multi-candidate field, 21% indicate they would vote for incumbent D.A. George Gascón. However, nearly half say they are undecided, and none of the remaining candidates notches higher than 6% support. Additionally, 46% of Black likely voters say they have an “unfavorable” opinion of Gascón, and 48% say they disapprove of how he is handling his job of serving the public. Finally, 52% of those surveyed say that recent efforts to reform the criminal justice system have not gone far enough. 

“Our survey highlights how candidates for L.A. County’s highest law enforcement office have an opportunity to engage and activate a key voting constituency in Los Angeles,” stated Tavis Smiley, host and Chief Visionary Officer for KBLA, who recently moderated a District Attorney forum at the 33rd Annual Empowerment Congress Summit in Watts. “As ballots hit the streets, more Black voters are starting to pay attention to this important race and it’s wide open at this point.” 

Crime, Criminal Justice Reform, Mental Health, and Homelessness 

Survey results illustrate important views of Los Angeles County’s Black community on key issues that impact quality of life.  

• 97% identify homelessness as a “highly serious problem,” including a full 82% who see it as an “extremely serious problem.” 

• 80% say that crime, in general, is an “extremely” or “very serious” concern.

• 52% indicate that efforts to reform the criminal justice system have not gone far enough. 

• 53% say that they feel less safe in L.A. County than they did a year or two ago.

• 66% feel that crime in L.A. County has increased in the last year. 

When asked a series of questions about the reasons why crime has increased, the results were eye-opening. 

• 96% highlighted a lack of resources, including mental health services and social supports to help people meet basic needs. 80% of respondents cited the lack of resources as a “major reason” for the increase. 

• 89% pointed to a decline in morals and family values. 

• 88% mentioned job loss and unemployment 

• 85% cited changes in the law to reduce punishments for certain crimes.

• 83% listed not enough police on the streets. 

• 80% named early releases from jails and prisons. 

• 79% identified poor management of the police department. 

” Black/African American voters are disproportionately and heavily impacted by crime and intensely interested in criminal justice reform,” added Smiley. “D.A. candidates who focus exclusively on ‘cracking down on crime’ and ignoring the root causes of this issue – a lack of mental health and social services, as well as unemployment – run the risk of alienating Black voters.” 

“These results are both instructive and informative for candidates in that they highlight how the Black community’s sentiments and preferences are distinctive,” concluded Shakari Byerly, Managing Partner, EVITARUS. “A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to campaigning won’t work with this community.”