The survey found Garcetti taking a comfortable 26 percent of the vote among likely L.A. voters. However, three other candidates also garnered double-digit support, including second-place finisher city Controller Wendy Greuel, who took 18 percent.
Broadcaster Kevin James and Councilwoman Jan Perry tied for third with 12 percent each.
Four remaining candidates did not fare as well in the poll.
In the unlikely event Garcetti takes more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 5 primary, he will be elected mayor.
A more likely scenario: The two top finishers will advance to the May 21 general election.
One in five voters remains undecided -- a fact that could shift the playing field.
Voter Demographics - Mayor
According to the poll, here are the voters attracted to the top four finishers:
- Garcetti's support is male, moderate and Latino.
- Greuel's support is white, older, educated and affluent.
- Perry's support is black, female and middle-income.
- James's support is young, male, Republican and disproportionately Asian.
City Attorney Race
In the election for city attorney of Los Angeles, the poll finds incumbent Carmen Trutanich edging Assemblyman Mike Feuer, 27 percent to 21 percent.
Greg Smith trails in third with 14 percent and Noel Weiss takes 10 percent.
Voter Demographics - City Attorney
Trutanich has a broad-based coalition, taking 27 percent of the vote among whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians.
Feuer fares well among males, senior citizens and the most affluent voters.
Cellphone and home phone respondents included in this research: SurveyUSA interviewed 1,000 city of Los Angeles adults 01/12/13 through 01/15/13. Of the adults, 863 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 544 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the 03/05/13 primary. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed-mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (80 percent of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (20 percent of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.