Mike Honda’s poll shows few know Ro Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda continued his double-barreled defense against a potential Democratic challenger Thursday by releasing a poll showing he has 10 times that person’s support.

honda.jpgAccording to the poll Honda’s campaign commissioned from Lake Research Partners, Honda starts with 57 percent support to Ro Khanna’s 5 percent. Khanna, a former Obama Administration official with $1.26 million in his campaign coffers, is rumored to be announcing a 2014 campaign against Honda soon.

Republican Evelyn Li, who challenged Honda last year, shows at 13 percent in this poll, and 23 percent of voters are undecided. The live telephone poll of 503 likely 2014 open primary voters, conducted Feb. 17-20, has a 4.4-point margin of error.

“Mike Honda is well-known and well-liked by the people he represents,” pollster David Mermin said in Honda’s news release. “His potential challengers are unknown and will face a long road to persuade voters to choose them over the Congressman.”

Khanna declined to comment on the poll Thursday: “I haven’t made any announcements yet about my future plans, but I am committed to serve where I can do the most for Bay Area residents.”

Mermin also noted that among voters who are tech-industry workers, Honda leads Khanna 56 percent to 6 percent. Khanna, who served as a deputy assistant secretary of commerce from 2009 through 2011, last year released his book “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key To America’s Future,” and he has worked to cast himself as a young, aggressive policy maker who’s in tune with the high-tech sector’s needs.

California’s 17th Congressional District is the first in the continental United States to have an Asian-American majority. Honda’s poll shows he holds 68 percent support from East and Southeast Asians, 59 percent from South Asians, 63 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of white voters.

Ro KhannaNone of this comes as much of a surprise, as Khanna, 36, remains largely unknown in the district – he has not yet even confirmed he’s a candidate, and the Honda’s poll shows 86 percent of voters don’t know who he is.

That hasn’t stopped a clearly-spooked Honda, 71, from moving swiftly and aggressively to try to quash his campaign before it starts; Honda in the past two months has rolled out endorsements from big guns such as President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, and former DNC chair Howard Dean – and we’ve still got a year and two and a half months until the June 2014 primary.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    RoK is a cunning upstart to most voters. In this blog, he enjoys the stature of a seasoned pol.

  • GV Haste

    Not so amazingly, Pete Stark enjoyed similar numbers when compared to Eric Swalwell a year and a half prior to the election.

    In other words, why try to make hay by comparing yourself to someone that no one knows is running.

    More worrisome puffery from Honda. Nothing says “I’m scared” more than these continued endorsements and polls, 18 months before anyone in the public has given it any thought.

    I remember back in September, USC was ranked #1 in the national polls…
    By the end of the season they were so bad, they lost 5 of their last 6 games.

  • JohnW

    Among key differences between Stark and Honda is the fact that Honda is not only “well-known” in the district, but also “well-liked.” He doesn’t have Stark’s behavioral baggage. Swalwell ran a good campaign after what, in my opinion, was a lousy start at the first joint appearance. But if he had been running against somebody like Mike Honda, without all the Stark antics, it would have been much tougher for him to take out the incumbent. Heck, even Pete Stark might have survived if he hadn’t gone off the deep end with his bribery accusations.

  • Independent Voter

    No major surprise here with respect to the numbers. Khanna hasn’t even made an announcement that he is running. He is virually unknown at this point and has little name ID.

    What is surprising is that Honda is spending money on polling when there is no declared candidate. Especially since he didn’t have a lot of cash on hand with his last filing. I would think it would be smart to save that money and invest it in more important resources down the road. This is obviously a scare tactic against Khanna, his donors, and potential endorsements.

    Some folks are trying to claim that Honda is just trying to show everyone he has all of the cards. Maybe it’s just me, but all of these actions (polling, endorsements, team, etc.) during the past few weeks show that he is clearly worried and doesn’t want to have to deal with a tough opponent.

    If Khanna does decide to run and starts raising money in addition to the $1.2 million war chest he already has, he should be able to increase his name ID in a hurry. Honda is a likeable and popular guy, but is not known as being an effective or strong legislator. There are a number of people who I’ve talked to in recent weeks who genuinely like Honda, but really question his intelligence. If Khanna starts exposing this and demonstrates that he is a better choice and that he will be a much more effective force in Washington, I think we will have a tight race on our hands.

    I love California’s new top two primary system. It’s so nice to finally have different options now and to hold members of Congress accountable. Personally I think Congress is broken and at least 80% of them should be fired (including Honda). Term limits really need to be imposed. Wishful thinking!

  • Elwood

    If I were Honda, I would have a few thousand “Who the hell is Ro Khanna?” bumper stickers and posters made.

  • moderatevoter

    One issue not brought up by independent voter is Honda’s age, as I understand it Honda will be 73 or 74 when he runs in 2014. As I have stated before, the NorCal Democratic leadership team has gotten pretty old.
    John Burton is 80, Fienstein is closing in on 80, Honda, Boxer, and Pelosi, and Lee are in their 70’s. If we don’t get some turnover in the democratic leadership in NorCal you can anticipate in 5 years some of these political figures will have hearing aids or be on walkers and so forth. When they have the annual NorCal leadership photo members will be saying, “Wait, I’ve got to put my teeth in, or hold off a minute, I need slide into my wig”.
    Clearly Honda’s age will be a factor in the 2014 campaign. Many activist Democrats in NorCal are saying the Democratic leadership team in NorCal is becoming an old folks home, that the current leadership team won’t get off stage and let the younger leaders emerge. I’m an activist Democrat and I am hearing this all over the place. Where is the younger generation of Democratic leaders? How long will the current leadership be serving? These are questions I think Nancy Pelosi ought to be answering, but she just keeps mindlessly endorsing these older members – like Pete Stark – without asking around how the younger generation feels about this.