San Diego City Councilmen and mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer were in a virtual tie in a poll out Tuesday.
Alvarez, a Democrat on the technically nonpartisan City Council, had the support of 46 percent of the 526 likely voters surveyed last week by Public Policy Polling, which was hired to do the poll by the Democratic Party of San Diego County.
Faulconer, a Republican, had 45 percent.
The results conflict with a poll released nine days ago that showed Faulconer up 53 percent to 37 percent. That poll, by SurveyUSA, was conducted on behalf of 10News and UT San Diego.
However, the Democrats' poll is roughly in line with results from SurveyUSA last month that also showed the councilmen in a dead heat.
"As we've known all along, turnout will be everything," said Francine Busby, chairwoman of the San Diego County Democratic Party. "Our county party is working closely with the Alvarez campaign to educate and mobilize our voters."
Alvarez and Faulconer are facing each other in the Feb. 11 runoff election to see who will finish the nearly three years left in the term of Bob Filner, who stepped down Aug. 30.
Tom Jensen, the director of the North Carolina-based polling firm, said voters in the new survey gave both Alvarez and Faulconer fairly high favorability ratings -- 55 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
"The bottom line on this race is that it could not be much more competitive," Jensen said in a memo released with the poll. "It's very unusual for us to find a contest where the candidates are so evenly matched both in terms of their overall support and their favorability numbers."
The portion of likely voters who view the candidates negatively was also close. Alvarez was viewed unfavorably by 27 percent, and Faulconer by 28 percent.
Latinos favored Alvarez by 63 percent to 28 percent margin, and 61 percent of those under the age of 45, compared to 27 percent for Faulconer.
The respondents were 43 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans and 25 percent independents or members of smaller parties. Democrats have a roughly 40 percent to 26 percent registration advantage in the city, as of Jan. 1, according to the county Registrar of Voters.
—City News Service