Honda Leads in First Poll

In a poll commissioned by his backers, 17th Congressional District Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) holds a solid lead in his bid for re-election. But a closer look at the numbers shows Honda’s early advantage might not be as strong as he’d like.

Honda leads his Democratic opponent, Ro Khanna, 45 percent to 26 percent in the three-way jungle primary, according to Public Policy Polling. Republican Vanila Singh, a newcomer to the race, garnered a surprising 29 percent, and she’s spent just $976 to Khanna’s $1.1 million. The survey was conducted on behalf of Democracy for America, a group launched by former Democratic Presidential candidate and Vermont Gov Howard Dean, who’s supporting Honda.

The recent polling shows how quickly Singh’s admission in the race has derailed Khanna from the right, said Charles Chamberlain, director of Democracy for America.

“Mike Honda has earned the support of Silicon Valley voters and he continues to have their support today, no matter how many max out contributions millionaire and billionaire CEOs and executives pour into Vanila Singh and Ro Khanna’s campaigns,” Chamberlain said.

But the poll also has some odd quirks. Only 270 registered voters were reached and the poll has a substantial margin of error of plus/minus 6 percent. With more than three months remaining, the poll did not allow for respondents to say they were undecided, and it also began by withholding candidates’ party affiliations. Without being told which party the candidates belonged to, respondents still favored Honda 22 points over Khanna, but Singh came in a distant third.

Still, the state’s non-partisan primary system, in which the top two vote-getters from any party advance to the general election, could make for a “muddy picture” for Khanna, according to The Hill.

“The poll indicates that Khanna may have trouble finishing in second place in the June primary—but that Honda isn’t a lock for victory in the November general election if Khanna is his opponent,” Hill reporter Cameron Joseph wrote.

Honda’s lead may owe itself to the incumbent’s name recognition. He’s represented the district since 2001. And though Khanna has spent more than a million bucks to date, according to The Hill, he has raised more than $3 million, which will give him leverage to raise his profile in the coming few months.

Honda and Khanna have been at each other’s throats for months. Honda’s people label his challenger as been bought and paid for by corporate interest, while Khanna’s camp has described the incumbent as an ineffective lawmaker beholden to PACs and special interests.

Khanna’s camp framed the poll results in a positive manner, pointing to the gain since a year ago, when the former Obama administration official culled just 5 percent in another Honda-backed poll—52 points behind the incumbent.

This narrowing of the gap could explain why Honda has refused to hold a public debate with Khanna. An editorial in the Mercury News last week excoriated Honda, saying his insistence that he’s “booked through August” shows “a fundamental disrespect for the democratic system and ultimately for voters.”

Poll numbers and questions:

Ro Khanna………………………………………………26%

Vanila Singh…………………………………………….29%

Mike Honda…………………………………………….. 45%

(Asked of 270 CA-17 voters — Margin of Error 6%)

If the election for U.S. Congress were held today, and the choices were Ro Khanna, Vanila Singh, and Mike Honda, for whom would you vote?

Ro Khanna ……………………………………………… 27%

Vanila Singh ……………………………………………. 11%

Mike Honda…………………………………………….. 62%

(Asked of 235 CA-17 voters — Margin of Error 6.4% )

If the election for U.S. Congress were held today, and the choices were Democrat Ro Khanna and Democrat Mike Honda, for whom would you vote?

Ro Khanna………………………………………………39%

Mike Honda…………………………………………….. 61%

(Asked of 505 CA-17 voters — Margin of Error 4.4% )

If the election for U.S. Congress were held today, and the choices were Republican Vanila Singh and Democrat Mike Honda, for whom would you vote?

Vanila Singh ……………………………………………. 31%

Mike Honda…………………………………………….. 69%

(Asked of 505 CA-17 voters — Margin of Error 4.4% )

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Mike Honda is handling his job as U.S. Congressman?

Approve …………………………………………………. 61%

Disapprove……………………………………………… 31%

No opinion………………………………………………. 8%

(Asked of 505 CA-17 voters — Margin of Error 4.4% )

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

2 Comments

  1. Ro Khanna is the flavor of the month. He has gone from spending a million dollars to be first to a million being third. Khanna’s refusal to address local issues will defeat him even before he begins to run. The fault of an incompetent staff.

    • I hadn’t heard of Ms. Singh until now, but on paper she makes a great candidate. mother, South Asian, Berkeley graduate, medical doctor and Stanford professor.

      Be careful what you wish for.