Former Republican at-large Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr., the son of the late mayor, garnered 10 percent. Rizzo has switched parties and declared his intention to run in next spring's Democratic mayoral primary.
Also unsurprising: The Butkovitz campaign read the results as showing the controller "well positioned," while some of his chief potential rivals were lagging.
"Alan did quite well," said Ben Nuckels, a senior vice president at Joe Slade White & Co., a national media strategy firm Butkovitz's campaign hired earlier this year.
Nuckels noted that Butkovitz polled first with white, Hispanic and over-65 voters.
"As the field develops and Butkovitz decides whether to get in, the fact that he leads with (those groups] puts him in a very strong position," Nuckels said.
The poll of 916 likely Philadelphia voters included four other potential candidates, all of whom drew single-digit support - Councilman James F. Kenney (7 percent), former State Sen. T. Milton Street (4 percent) State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (2 percent) and former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo (1 percent).
Forty-one percent of those polled said they were undecided. The results of the survey, conducted by telephone on May 27 and 28, have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Butkovitz and other candidates who hold elected city offices, such as Clarke and Kenney, cannot announce their intention to run for a new office without first resigning; a ballot proposal to undo that rule was defeated in the May 20 primary.
The mayoral primary is scheduled for next May, but jockeying for support has already begun.
The Butkovitz campaign in particular emphasized the controller's showing compared with that of Williams, a former gubernatorial candidate who has hired nationally known campaign advisers and is considered to be in the first tier of mayoral hopefuls.
The pollsters asked about a hypothetical two-way race between Butkovitz and Williams, and found the controller with a 2-1 advantage, 22 percent to 11 percent.
Williams on Friday gathered city, business, and labor leaders to discuss his potential campaign. He also has hired 270 Strategies, a Washington-based group loaded with veterans of President Obama's campaigns.
His campaign, however, had no comment on the Butkovitz poll.