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Results of a poll showing David Alvarez catching the sinking Nathan Fletcher in the run-up to the mayoral special election were never meant to go public, says the polling firm that conducted the research.

"It was not our intention to release our polling data," said Mark Bunge from the GarinHartYang Research Group in a conference call this morning (November 5) with local media.

Bunge says the statistic showing Alvarez moving into a virtual tie with Fletcher was uncovered while doing research, such as testing messaging and talking points with likely voters, meant solely to benefit Alvarez's campaign.

Joined by labor leaders Richard Barrera and Mickey Kasparian, Bunge said the release was in response to a Survey USA poll commissioned by 10News and the U-T San Diego showing Kevin Faulconer jumping to the front of the pack and Fletcher still commanding an 11 percent lead over Alvarez.

"When we saw the Survey USA poll coming out showing a gap that we feel is not realistic between [Alvarez] and Fletcher, we felt it was important to put numbers out that we feel are more accurate," explained Bunge. "It is important that voters who are ready to support [Alvarez] understand that he's got a very good shot of making it into the runoff."

The likelihood of an "older, whiter electorate" casting ballots this month as compared to during a presidential election cycle was taken into account — 41 percent of likely voters in the GarinHartYang poll reported as Democrats, 40 percent of city residents are registered Democrat, according to the most recent county registrar report. But 36 percent in the poll were Republicans, even though less than 27 percent of the city's registered voters align with the GOP.

"Our sample is pretty old and fairly white, as compared to what we would hope," adds Bunge, noting that Alvarez's support rises even higher in Latino and other minority communities.

One thing the polls seem to agree on — Fletcher's early strength came mainly from his name recognition (a September GarinHartYang poll showed support at 34 percent Fletcher, 23 percent Faulconer, and 13 percent Alvarez), but as the race has progressed, voters have split along party lines in the officially nonpartisan race. Faulconer benefits as the sole GOP candidate, while the real race is likely for the number-two spot.

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