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Poll: DeMaio leads, Filner and Fletcher tied

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Three weeks from San Diego’s mayoral primary, Councilman Carl DeMaio is in a strong position to advance to a November runoff, according to a poll conducted by SurveyUSA and released Monday by 10News.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and Rep. Bob Filner are locked in a tie for second place.

DeMaio pulls 31 percent support, while Fletcher and Filner both take 21 percent of the poll of 525 likely voters. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis gets 13 percent. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error.

Eight percent remain undecided, according to the poll, down from 10 percent in an identical poll taken last month. Just a week earlier, U-T San Diego released a poll pegging that number at 35 percent.

John Dadian, whose political consulting firm Dadian & Associates Inc. isn’t affiliated with any of the four mayoral campaigns, believes the higher undecided number is more accurate.

“The major advertising has just started,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s had this much of an impact already.”

Looking at all the polls released thus far, Dadian said the top takeaway right now is that the three top candidates are bunched together.

"'Get out the vote' used to mean Election Day," he said. "Now because of early voting, voting’s going on already. That’s really what’s going to determine the race."

If none of the candidates win 50 percent voter approval, the top two vote getters will advance to a November runoff.

The poll represents just one data point in an ever-evolving political landscape. Nonetheless, as a snapshot of the moment, it shows a waning of Fletcher’s popularity surge following his departure from the Republican Party.

He lost five points of support since the month-ago poll, which was the first to show a significant increase in support following his independent move.

Prior to becoming an independent, Fletcher had been plagued by the lowest name recognition in the race.

Support for DeMaio increased 3 percent in the last month, while Filner gained 1 percent and Dumanis stayed put.

DeMaio has led or been tied for the lead in all four polls taken by SurveyUSA since September.

Fletcher’s chief campaign strategist released a statement responding to the poll, saying his candidate had maintained strong support despite a barrage of attacks from the other three candidates.

The poll was taken from Friday to Sunday, following a week in which Fletcher was bombarded by negative advertising from both political flanks.

Fletcher called a press conference Thursday to highlight the ads — one from a Democratic group highlighting his past ties to George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and John McCain, another from a DeMaio-aligned committee that hit him for his compromise with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to close a $1 billion tax loophole for out-of-state companies — and said their contradictory message proved he’s the independent candidate he claims to be.

Campaigns substantially increased voter outreach once early voting began on May 7.

DeMaio has a strong advantage among the 12 percent of respondents, or roughly 67 voters, who already took advantage of early voting. Thirty-seven percent of early voters support DeMaio, while 20 percent support Filner, and 16 percent support both Fletcher and Dumanis.

Filner’s base of support is comparatively older, Democrat and low income. Fletcher’s is male, middle-aged and moderate. DeMaio’s is Republican, tea party and Hispanic, according to the poll.

SurveyUSA’s polling has been criticized because it uses a recorded voice to interview respondents. Mobile phone respondents interact with questions displayed on their device.

Despite hesitations over the accuracy of recorded voice polling, SurveyUSA was found to be among the nation’s most accurate pollsters in the 2008 election, according to The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog.

SurveyUSA also asked respondents about their support for Proposition B, which would switch all new city of San Diego hires except for police officers to a 401(k)-style retirement plan and attempt to freeze pensionable pay for city employees for five years.

Fifty-four percent of respondents support Proposition B, while 22 percent oppose it and 24 percent are uncertain. Compared to a month ago, opposition to the initiative is up seven points.

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