We were pretty skeptical when Fernando Guerra of Loyola Marymount University put out an “exit poll” showing Eric Garcetti with a lead over Wendy Greuel in the race for L.A. mayor. Guerra did not screen out unlikely voters, which made the results — in our view — unreliable.

But now we have another poll which also shows Garcetti with a very slight lead, and this one we have more confidence in. The private poll shows Garcetti up by 3 points over Greuel, which is within the margin of error.
Full results after the jump.

Eric Garcetti 22
Wendy Greuel 19
Jan Perry 8
Kevin James 5
Emanuel Pleitez 1
Undecided 44
Margin of error: +/- 4
Sample size: 500 likely voters.
The poll was conducted by a professional polling firm which is not working for any of the candidates. The survey was conducted over four days during the first week of December. Likely voters were screened based on past voting history and stated intention to vote in March.
One thing to keep an eye on is the Latino share of the sample. (The CW is that Garcetti does better with Latinos.) The LMU poll had a 30% Latino sample — which is on the very high end. This poll, we're told, has a 20% Latino sample, which is on the low end.
As always, we should beware the illusion of accuracy. It's still early, and we've seen other results that show Greuel with an advantage. Polls are likely to have varying likely voter models which will generate varying results. At this point, all we can say with complete confidence is that Greuel and Garcetti are the two front-runners — which is not exactly breaking news.
As usual, we asked the top campaigns for their reactions to these numbers. Perry's consultant, Eric Hacopian, said this poll understates Perry's standing by 3-4 points. He also said that Perry's vote totals go up once African-American voters are told that she is African-American.
“It's not dramatically off,” Hacopian said. “It's a name-ID poll. It means very little once the engagement process begins.”
Greuel's consultant, John Shallman, said he would prefer for a poll to have a larger sample size of 600 to 800 voters. But beyond that, he did not dispute the results.
“It's just showing this is a two-person race,” Shallman said. “It's going to be a runoff, and Wendy wins that. Jan's vote and Kevin's vote goes to Wendy.”
And here's Bill Carrick, Garcetti's strategist: “We see this race as being very competitive and these numbers seem to be consistent with the other polls that have been publicly released.”
Wow, a leaked poll that nobody really objects to. It's a Christmas miracle!

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