CA17 poll: Honda holds solid lead over Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, holds a commanding lead over fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, though he falls short of a majority of voters, according to a new poll commissioned and released by Honda’s political allies.

honda.jpgThe poll, conducted Aug. 2-4 among 806 likely voters in the 17th Congressional District, found 49 percent support Honda, 15 percent support Khanna and 36 percent remain undecided. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, and has a 3.5-point margin of error.

This isn’t so surprising, considering Honda’s name recognition after almost six and a half terms in office, and how early in the 2014 electoral cycle we are; a lot of people simply aren’t tuned in yet. Leah Cowan, Khanna’s campaign manager, said he’s undaunted.

“Since we launched our grassroots campaign in April, Ro has been working tirelessly to engage thousands of voters across the district by knocking on doors, hosting meet-and-greets, and participating in community events,” Cowan said. “What we’re seeing on the ground is strong support for Ro’s positive message of working to create good paying jobs, build a 21st-century education, and make government more responsive to people, not special interests. As more people continue to hear his ideas, we’re confident they’ll move our way.”

The poll also found that about 46 percent of voters would be more supportive of Honda’s campaign if he runs on the idea of increasing Social Security benefits – a plan he touted at a news conference earlier this month in Fremont, days after this poll was conducted – while 13 percent said they’d be less supportive, 35 percent said it would make no difference and 6 percent said they wouldn’t be sure. This question was asked of only 416 voters, and has a 4.8-point margin of error.

I’ve heard that the voters surveyed with this poll were front-loaded with information about the candidates’ positions on Social Security before they were asked whom they would vote for. (SEE UPDATE BELOW.)

Ro KhannaKhanna earlier this month had said he favors immediate action to ensure Social Security’s solvency at current benefit levels “without making empty promises that could ultimately threaten the system overall.” He said he’s “in principle open to expanding benefits after the solvency is ensured.”

That’s not good enough, according to the liberal groups that commissioned this poll.

“Voters in California’s 17th District strongly support expanding Social Security, so it should be no surprise that they also strongly support Mike Honda, the only candidate in the race who unequivocally backs the idea,” Democracy for America Chairman Jim Dean said in a news release. “At the end of the day, Californians expect their representatives to be the progressive leaders in Congress and, on the issue of Social Security expansion, Honda is once again answering that call.”

UPDATE @ 10:20 A.M.: PCCC spokeswoman Laura Friedenbach says the question about which candidate the voter supports came early in the poll questionnaire, and was not preceded by any information about the candidates’ stances on Social Security.

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.

  • Independent Voter

    Obviously this was a push poll. Even if it wasn’t, Khanna closed the gap from 52 points to 34 points in 5 short months. Still a lot of time to narrow the gap.

  • GV Haste

    Absurd feel-good polls.
    I’m betting at this point, a maximum of 10% of voters have even heard Khanna’s name.
    No one is paying attention.

    This time in 2011, Swalwell would have gotten the same 15% of the vote, essentially all anti-Stark votes if only two names were given as a choice.

    That Honda is so nervous that he is suggesting boosting Social Security benefits, indicates he is playing to the least sophisticated voters out there.
    Promising to fight for something that has 0.2% chance of happening.

    What next, promise to reduce the price of gasoline and eggs?

  • blue collar voter

    First term Congressman Eric Swalwell has been holding town hall meetings all over his district for months, he also found the time to fly to Afghanistan and UAE to meet with troops and become more knowledgeable on terrorism issues. The kid is all over the place. So great to see a new young member like this with lot’s of energy, the job of Congressman is a 16 hour a day thing – especially in this era, when our middle class is disappearing.
    Sleepy Mike Honda, in contrast, is nowhere to be found – he didn’t schedule a single town-hall meeting this summer, he’s got one scheduled for September – “invitation only” – but only after Chronicle reporter Carla Maranuchi goaded him into doing one.
    Honda is an old style Pete Stark type of a Representative, call a press conference once awhile, show up to a meet and greet every six months or so, do as little work as possible, enjoy perks and benefits of being a Representative, while working as little as possible. Honda’s not abrasive and obnoxious like Stark, but the other similarities – laziness in particular – are there.
    I don’t care what the poll numbers say right now, I like Ro Khanna for this seat. He’s got ideas – really great ideas – on how to put people back to work at decent paying jobs, it’s called vision, you don’t have enough of this in NorCal Democratic delegation, and you don’t have enough energy either. The club-house days of the old NorCal Democratic delegation are over, voters believe the system is broke, and they want members who can fix it. You won’t get that returning the bumbling Honda to Congress.

  • Alcoahead

    Yet “El Smellwell” has yet to join EVERY other member of the NorCal delegation in proclaiming some kind of statement on what, or if to do anything regarding Syria.

    Oh, wait — there isn’t an app for that on his nifty new phablet — the one he uses to poke and tweet and vine with all the time, when he’s not busy with some intern.

    My bad…

  • RR Senile Columnist

    Let’s drop leaflets instead of bombs over Syria. A typical one would read: Shame on you,
    Dr Assad! As a trained MD, you are aware of the harmful effects of chemical weapons. If you persist in this behaviour, your prestige will suffer in medical and political circles.”

  • JohnW


    Yes, indeed. My standard for judging my representative in Congress is whether or not he signs on to the CYOA letters of other members.

  • Elwood

    Since Ellen Tauscher dumped that $47 million into Swalwell’s campaign coffers he’s a mortal lock.

    We must all learn not to fear Ellen. She knows what is best for us.

  • Elwood

    Why is it I wonder, that BCV sounds exactly like RoK’s campaign manager?

  • JohnW


    Not a bad idea, and probably about as effective lobbing in some cruise missiles just so we can say we did something after the red line was crossed.

    There still seems to be some question as to whether Assad’s regime actually did this. Shades of Iraq and WMD’s.

    I had similar thoughts about this MD turned tyrant. He had a great thing going as an opthamologist in London. His brother was supposed to take over from daddy before he was killed in an auto crash. Bashar surely knew that going back to Syria and taking over was a dead-end, high risk/low reward deal, where any reform impulses would be strongly resisted by the military and could lead to the same unpleasant demise that was met by Sadat in Egypt and Rabin in Israel. It blows my mind that he chose this path.

  • GV Haste

    Speaking of far off elections for congress.

    What is Corbett up to?

    Does she have some deep cover campaign running?

    I see she voted to put non-citizens on California juries, becoming the first state in the nation do so.
    I’m guessing in that congressional district that is NOT a popular idea.

    So what is next for her? Lobbyist?

  • Josh Richman

    @10: Corbett’s campaign website indicates she held two fundraising events this month, in Fremont and Castro Valley.

  • I know absolutely nothing about polls, but to me the numbers don’t look good for Honda.

    He released a poll in late March, 5 months ago, that had him with 57% of the vote vs. 5% for Khanna, 13% for the potential Republican candidate and 25% undecided.

    Now, he has 49% of the vote, Khanna has 15% and 36% are undecided.

    The fact that Honda’s numbers went down worries me by 8 points worries me. It seems that Khanna is making inroads with Honda voters. Whether that’s based on name recognition alone, I’ve no idea.

    Josh, could you give us an analysis on what these changes in the poll numbers mean?


  • blue collar voter

    I think the contrast in candidates in this race is just stunning. Ro Khanna is coming out with thoughtful papers on how to bring state- of- the- art robotic jobs to the 17th district, Honda in contrast is holding Karaoke fund raisers, he’s singing Dean Martin’s “Volare” at Karaoke fundraisers while the brilliant Khanna is releasing concrete proposals on how to put unemployed and under-employed 17th district workers back to work. Honda may be able to belt out classics on the Karaoke machine, but he’s clueless on how to put suffering 17th district workers back to work at decent wages.
    We need a new generation of leaders in NorCal, Eric Swalwell is one of them, Gavin Newsom, and Ro Khanna too. These guys – the next generation of political leaders in NorCal, got eye on the ball, they are talking about reversing the downward mobility of US workers, and using US technology expertise to do it.

  • Elwood

    BCV, you need to learn a new song from the RoK songbook.

    It is however, nice that you’ve learned the campaign talking points by rote. Did they pay you for memorizing them?

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    Ro Khanna has collected enough bribery to get attention from the corrupt mainstream media. I’m stuck with big, arrogant George Miller, until when?