The poll, which focused on policy issues as opposed to individual candidates, also showed that more than two-thirds of voters approve of the Long Beach Police Department, with more than 75% of voters saying the department should maintain its current funding levels or receive more money.
The poll was conducted by faculty and students at Cal State Long Beach and the University of Southern California with 1,037 residents participating.
Christian Grose, who teaches political science and international relations and public policy at USC, was one of the lead researchers on the poll. He previously polled Long Beach voter attitudes toward local candidates.
This poll asked people to name the two most important issues facing Long Beach right now. The top answer, by far, was homelessness, according to 32.4% of those surveyed. The second highest answer, crime, was mentioned by 18.9% of those surveyed.
Grose said it was rare to find so many people giving the same answer in an open-ended survey question.
“The homeless issue may be driving a lot of what happens in the city, and how people may vote on Tuesday,” said Grose.
A majority of Long Beach voters believe in both the effectiveness of housing-first policies designed to get homeless people into shelter or temporary housing (56%) and banning people from sleeping in public places (53.6%), according to the poll. A little over 48% of voters believe that people experiencing homelessness should receive housing services without conditions such as therapy or counseling for substance abuse, according to the poll.
Grose said the support for both compassionate and punitive approaches to dealing with homelessness represented an “emerging consensus” on the issue, though he noted that Democrats supported housing-first policies at higher rates than Republicans (66.9% vs. 39.6%, respectively) and Republicans supported banning sleeping in public more than Democrats (66.1% vs. 50.5%, respectively).
At the same time, more people opposed the construction of a new apartment complex in their neighborhood than supported it, according to the poll. Just 36.6% of those surveyed would support such a complex, while 45.7% of those surveyed said no, according to the poll.
On the issue of crime, 73.6% of those surveyed said they think crime has increased in the last year. Solid majorities of nearly all ethnic, age, gender, education and political affiliation demographics said crime has increased, according to the poll.
The number of crimes reported to the Long Beach Police Department has indeed increased this year, according to the most recently available data, which run through the end of April.
Overall crime was up 8.7% compared to 2021 and up 12% compared to the five-year average—a time period when the city was experiencing historically low crime, including in 2017 when the city saw its lowest number of murders ever recorded.
The overall increase this year has been driven mostly by property offenses like theft and commercial burglary, but robberies were also up 20%, and there had been 18 murders through the end of April compared to 10 at that point last year. However, shootings, which had plagued the city at the beginning of 2021, were down through April, with 126 incidents compared to 158.
The survey also showed strong support for the LBPD—again, across nearly all demographics, though with one notable exception.
A solid two-thirds (64.7%) of those surveyed approve of the LBPD, with 35.3% disapproving of it, according to the poll. When broken down by ethnic group, the results still show majority approval in every group, ranging from 59.7% of Black respondents supporting the department to 69.4% of Asian respondents showing support.
A majority of all age groups also support the department, with support mostly growing in the older brackets. About 57.7% of people under 30 support the LBPD, while 72.6% of those over 70 approve of the department. The poll also found that men and women approve of the LBPD at similar rates. About 68.8% of men and 63.5% of women support the department, according to the poll.
Only one group, LGBTQ+ people, showed a majority disapproval of the department, with 53% disapproving of the department while 47% support it, according to the survey.
Grose noted that the survey asked people for their opinion on the LBPD specifically, not policing in general, which may have factored into the results.
More than three-quarters of those surveyed support either the current level of LBPD funding or would like to see it increase, according to the poll. Just 23.9% of those surveyed believe the department’s funding should decrease.
The support for the LBPD’s budget funding was bipartisan, with 71.4% of Democrats and 99% of Republicans approving of either the current funding or an increase in funding, according to the poll.
Managing Editor Jeremiah Dobruck contributed to this report.