Mayor Turns to StudyLA for Survey

“Our city is under attack, our daily life is unrecognizable; we’re bowed, and we’re worn down; we are grieving our dead,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said April 19, 2020, during an emotional state of the city address. “But we are not broken.”

And Garcetti could back up that note of resilience with numbers gained by a survey conducted by Loyola Marymount University’s Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles. The StudyLA research team conducted a survey that involved 15-minute telephone interviews and online surveys with 2,000 adult Los Angeles County residents (1,000 in the city of Los Angeles and 1,000 in the rest of the county).

“At the beginning of this crisis,” Garcetti said during his daily update, “I reached out to Loyola Marymount, knowing that the center had done amazing work looking at the way we look at our city and each other and I knew that this was information that could arm us with the right decisions to save lives.”

Garcetti reached out in mid-March to Fernando Guerra, director of StudyLA and professor of political science and Chicano/a studies, because the mayor wanted a survey focused on what was going on with Angelenos. The center’s track record for accuracy with election exit poll survey and its history of cooperation, surveys and presentations led Garcetti to trust StudyLA with the project.

“The research at StudyLA has an impressive record for accuracy,” said Guerra, “and the civic leadership in Los Angeles recognizes that. We were honored to serve a key role in helping decision-makers make data-informed policies in these unprecedented times.”

Brianne Gilbert, associate director of the center and lead investigator for the project, worked with Guerra and Amanda Daflos, chief innovation officer for L.A., giving weekly updates and presentations over Zoom. Despite the restrictions and hectic schedule, Gilbert and her team were able to pull together a valid and timely study. She presented the findings April 10, 2020, during a televised daily update.

“One of the key findings,” said Gilbert, “on the question about the masks, we saw the numbers jump immediately and significantly in people’s use of masks. We were able to document that residents were listening and still supportive of Safer at Home order, even in the face of being negatively impacted.”

Key StudyLA findings that were delivered to the mayor included:

  • An overwhelming majority of Angelenos (95%) support the Safer at Home order;
  • Most Angelenos (59%) say that the local government response has been just right, but another 30% think that local government could do even more;
  • Angelenos are listening. Most Angelenos gave accurate answers to the ways they can protect themselves as well as the most common symptoms of the coronavirus;
  • Nearly half of Angelenos (48%) have been let go or had their hours reduced. Those most impacted are those who are younger or those who already had a lower household income;
  • Nearly one in five Angelenos do not have anyone they can depend on for care.

StudyLA collected data from March 23, 2020, to April 8, 2020, involving a range of questions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was administered in both English and Spanish. The margin of error ±2.0%.