Alex Johnson, District 1 candidate
An internal poll conducted by Alex Johnson’s campaign suggests that he is gaining on George McKenna as they compete for the vacant LA Unified school board seat.
The Johnson campaign says that polling conducted in April and June shows that Johnson’s name recognition has grown to 52 percent, from 14 percent percent.
It also said Johnson’s favorable rating climbed to 42 percent from 12 percent while McKenna’s grew to 49 percent from 29 percent. Each candidate’s unfavorable rating also rose — to 10 percent from 2 percent for Johnson and to 8 percent from 7 percent for McKenna.
The two were the leading vote-getters among seven candidates for the vacant District 1 board seat in the June 3 primary. They’re now facing off in an Aug. 12 runoff.
The Johnson poll, included in a campaign staff memo, was sent, unsolicited, to LA School Report, for the apparently obvious reasons that it shows encouraging results for Johnson, a political neophyte who has been working as an education aide to LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The memo said that the campaign has fulfilled the first of two goals, holding McKenna, a former school administrator and the subject of a television movie, under 50 percent in the primary, thus denying him an outright victory. “We knew from the outset that McKenna’s higher initial name ID would virtually guarantee him a first place finish in a multi-candidate race,” it said.
The campaign’s second goal, the memo said, is to turn Johnson’s opportunity into victory by convincing voters he represents “a new direction for L.A. schools.” The memo said voters are responding favorably to his positions on a series of issues but it offed no polling results showing how they compare with voter sentiments on McKenna’s positions on the same issues.
With the runoff election still six weeks away, it’s hard to assess the true impact of the polling data. McKenna far outdistanced Johnson in the primary, 44.6 percent to 24.7 percent, and as a rule, internal campaign polls usually project good news for the campaign conducting the poll.
Nonetheless, the memo concludes that a third of the voters remain undecided and Johnson “can and will win the runoff.”
LA School report sent a message to the McKenna campaign, sharing some of the numbers in the Johnson memo. The message asked for any similar poll conducted by the McKenna campaign and for reaction to Johnson’s poll.
Jewett Walker, McKenna’s campaign manager, provided an ambiguous, one-word response — “Absurd!.” It was unclear if he were referring to the requests or to the conclusions of the Johnson poll.
He did not respond to another message seeking clarification.
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