A new private poll shows Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti advancing to a runoff in the race for L.A. mayor, with Greuel taking a slight lead ahead of the March 5 primary vote.

The poll was paid for by a Greuel-friendly source who declined to be identified, and conducted by a professional polling firm with extensive experience in L.A. elections. 
Here are the results:

Wendy Greuel 27
Eric Garcetti 24
Jan Perry 16
Kevin James 11
Emanuel Pleitez 3
The poll was conducted Feb. 14-17. The sample size is 500 likely voters. The margin of error is 4.4% — so Garcetti is trailing within the margin. The poll projects a turnout of 25%. It also estimates that Latinos will comprise 23% of that turnout, which is on the low end of expectations. That could skew the result in Greuel's favor, because Garcetti has a sizable lead with Latino voters. (Garcetti's camp hopes to boost Latino turnout closer to 30%.)
The poll shows gains for Greuel and for Jan Perry compared with a survey conducted by the same firm on Jan. 12-17. Here are those results:
Eric Garcetti 23
Wendy Greuel 21
Jan Perry 13
Kevin James 10
Emanuel Pleitez 3
The sample size for the January poll is 1000 likely voters, and the margin of error is 3%. 
If these results are correct — and consider the source — then Greuel has picked up six points over a month. The second poll was taken after Greuel's TV commercials had been on the air for two and a half weeks, and after IBEW Local 18 had been running its pro-Greuel ad for several days.
At the same time, Perry picked up three points. Perry has not been doing TV spots, but when the poll was taken her campaign had already flooded mailboxes with 20 mail pieces. Garcetti's polling result was static, picking up just one point. His TV commercial had been airing for about a week when the second poll was taken.
The poll was taken before Better Way L.A., an independent committee backing Kevin James, began airing its TV commercial, so it would not pick up any effect of that ad.
Bill Carrick, Garcetti's strategist, argued that the results were contradicted by public polls, and by internal polls conducted for the Garcetti campaign.
“These numbers obviously came from one of the interest groups funding one of the campaigns for Wendy Greuel,” Carrick said. “I would take them not only with a grain of salt but maybe a pound of salt… The only time we have ever seen (Greuel) in first place is in something that has been leaked to the media by her campaign or by one of the groups funding the independent expenditure campaigns in her behalf.”
Eric Hacopian, Perry's consultant, also disputed the results, saying the likely voter model appears to tilt the results in Greuel's favor. However, he agreed that Perry is gaining ground.
“That is certainly true,” Hacopian said. “That is certainly happening.”
Dave Jacobson, Greuel's spokesman, was, naturally, more favorably disposed to the results.
“While we can't comment on the specifics of a poll we haven't seen, these numbers seem to reflect the fact that in spite of the desperate and misleading attacks by our opponents, Wendy has maintained her edge and is surging with more and more momentum daily,” Jacobson said in a statement.
The February survey also included a head-to-head matchup between Greuel and Garcetti, assuming that both make the May 21 runoff. In that contest, Greuel takes 40% of the vote to Garcetti's 34%.

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