Poll shows strong support for seals

At the opposite ends of the opinions on whether La Jolla’s seals should be pushed off the Children’s Pool beach are younger women and older men.

“A whopping three-quarters of women under the age of 35 strongly oppose” the city’s plans to remove the seals who occupy the beach, according to statistics compiled by Competitive Edge Research & Communication in a telephone survey of 504 people living in the city of San Diego. Men 55 years of age and older shared the opinion only 30 percent of the time.

The poll, conducted between June 18 and 22, showed very high awareness of the issue, said John Nienstedt, president of the firm.

As a San Diegan he said he was interested in what people were thinking so his firm asked several questions, including whether people planned to visit the Children’s Pool this summer and whether they would come if the seals were removed from the beach.

Forty-three percent said they would come with the seals; 36 percent would come without. There was a 4.4 percent margin of error.

“The big issue,” he said, “is the drop in the number of San Diego adults that would go if the seals weren’t there.”

While the 7 percent drop may appear small, it translates to a drop of about 70,000 people who wouldn’t visit La Jolla, Nienstedt said. “Who knows how much money they spend - $1, $10, $100?”

The poll reached across the city, with half of those surveyed living north of I-8. Only four were in the 92037 ZIP code, he said. In looking at the data between those living in the city’s coastal area and those inland, he found no statistical differences.

“Residents on the coast are just as aware of the issue, have the same visitation patterns and tend to have the same attitudes as those more inland,” he added.

Overall 63 percent of the respondents want the seals to stay - with 47 percent feeling strongly about it, 25 percent want them removed - including a “core of 16 percent who strongly support removal” - and the rest had no opinion or were neutral.

When compared to the three quarters of women in the 18 to 34 age demographic who strongly opposed to the removal, only 48 percent of men in the same age group took the same stance.

Women in the 55+ demographic opposed the removal 47 percent of women of the time, the survey showed. Half of the men in the 35 to 45 demographic don’t want the city to act, while 44 percent of women in that demographic share that opinion.

The largest group strongly supporting removal of the seals was 55+ men, 35 percent of whom stood in that column. Eighteen percent of women in the same group said they strongly support removal.