CA17: Mike Honda’s allies cite favorable poll

Rep. Mike Honda holds a lead of at least 19 percentage points over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna, according to a new poll released Thursday morning by a national liberal group that’s backing Honda.

The poll of 17th Congressional District voters conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Democracy for America found Honda, D-San Jose, leading Khanna by 19 points when they and a third candidate, Republican Vanila Singh, are identified by their party affiliations. In fact, Singh finished ahead of Khanna though within the poll’s margin of error.

Without being told the canddiates’ party affiliations, voters preferred Honda over Khanna by 35 percentage points, with Singh a distant third. In one-on-one matches, Honda led Khanna by 22 points and led Singh by 38 points. And the poll found 61 percent of respondents approve of Honda’s job performance.

“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,” said Democracy for America executive director Charles Chamberlain.

Honda and Khanna have been pot-shotting each other for months, with Honda accusing Khanna of being in the pocket of Silicon Valley millionaires while Khanna notes Honda is accepting a lot of PAC and Washington money while Khanna’s fundraising base is more Bay Area-centric.

Without taking the poll as gospel, Khanna’s campaign still sees progress.

“It is encouraging to know that, in a matter of months, Ro has increased his support from 5 percent to 26 percent while Rep. Honda’s lead has plummeted from 52 to 19 points and he’s now well under 50 percent – a danger sign for any incumbent,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Wednesday night. “It’s clear that Ro’s campaign of energy and ideas is connecting with voters, who are tired of the stasis and dysfunction in Congress. The trends are very much in favor of change this November.”

Follow after the jump to see the results as presented by DFA:
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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.


Poll numbers shift, ads launched on marriage

Days after a recent poll showed Californians becoming more accepting of same-sex marriage, the national advocacy group Freedom to Marry is rolling out a “Why Marriage Matters” national ad campaign.

The organization says the $10 million, three-year effort will be the largest-ever national public education campaign on this issue, launching Monday – Valentine’s Day – with a national cable buy on CNN. Here’s the first ad:

In partnership with local and state groups, the “Why Marriage Matters” campaign will include a variety of TV, radio, and online ads, plus a website of its own.

“Across the country the thinking of many Americans, from the president to the people next door, continues to — as President Obama put it — ‘evolve’ toward support for same-sex couples joining in the freedom to marry. Freedom to Marry’s team has crunched over a decade’s worth of polling data and field experience to crack the code on moving the reachable but not yet reached,” Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said in a news release. “By engaging friends, families, and neighbors in personal conversations about why marriage matters, each of us can help fair-minded people wrestling with a lack of information and uncertainty, and change hearts and minds.”

Freedom to Marry says its data showed that people who have had conversations with their gay and lesbian friends about why marriage matters to them are more likely to support the freedom to marry.

“As Americans see their gay and lesbian friends, families, and coworkers in loving and committed relationships, they realize there is no good reason to withhold the protections and support that only come with marriage,” said Thalia Zepatos, the group’s public engagement director. “It is as simple as the Golden Rule.”

Here in California, 52.2 percent of voters in November 2008 approved Proposition 8, which amended the state’s constitution to say that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” A federal judge has deemed the measure unconstitutional, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering the case.

But a recent poll indicates Californians’ minds might be changing on the issue even as the courts weigh it. A Public Policy Polling survey of 892 California voters, conducted from Jan. 28 to 30 with a 3.3 percent margin of error, found that when asked, “Do you think same sex marriage should be legal or illegal?,” 51 percent said legal, 40 percent said illegal and 10 percent said they weren’t sure. When PPP had last asked the question in September 2010, a 46 percent plurality was in support, but an almost equal 44 percent was opposed.

The poll showed Democrats remained stable, with two-thirds in support and a quarter opposed both then and now. But Republican voters moved from 76-15 opposed in the earlier poll to 64-29 in this new one; independent voters went from 47-41 to 51-35.

It’s still a generational divide, to some extent: 47 percent of senior citizens oppose same-sex marriage, while only 42 percent support it. Take them out of the poll, and support for legalization grows to 51 percent in favor, 38 percent against – indicating once again that legal acceptance of same-sex marriage may only be a matter of time.


Gubernatorial and Senate poll roundup

There has been a flurry of poll results released recently in the two big races on California’s ballot this November, and although we’ve been rolling ‘em out as they come, perhaps it would be useful to have them all together in one place, so everyone can get an idea of which way the wind is blowing (with the caveat, of course, that it’s still a loooong way to Election Day).

In the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and Republican nominee Carly Fiorina:

  • CNN/Time, Sept. 24-28, 786 likely voters: Boxer 52%, Fiorina 43%
  • PPIC, Sept. 19-26, 1,104 likely voters: Boxer 42%, Fiorina 35%
  • SurveyUSA, Sept. 19-21, 610 likely voters: Boxer 49%, Fiorina 43%
  • Rasmussen Reports, Sept. 20, 750 likely voters: Boxer 47%, Fiorina 43%
  • LA Times/USC, Sept. 15-22, 887 likely voters: Boxer 51%, Fiorina 43%
  • Field, Sept. 14-21, 599 likely voters: Boxer 47%, Fiorina 41%
  • Public Policy Polling, Sept. 14-16, 630 likely voters: Boxer 50%, Fiorina 42%
  • In the gubernatorial race between Democratic nominee Jerry Brown and Republican nominee Meg Whitman:

  • CNN/Time, Sept. 24-28, 786 likely voters: Brown 52%, Whitman 43%
  • PPIC, Sept. 19-26, 1,104 likely voters: Whitman 38%, Brown 37%
  • SurveyUSA, Sept. 19-21, 610 likely voters: Brown 46%, Whitman 43%
  • Rasmussen Reports, Sept. 20, 750 likely voters: Brown 47%, Whitman 46%
  • LA Times/USC, Sept. 15-22, 887 likely voters: Brown 49%, Whitman 44%
  • Field, Sept. 14-21, 599 likely voters: Brown 41%, Whitman 41%
  • Public Policy Polling, Sept. 14-16, 630 likely voters: Brown 47%, Whitman 42%
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    New poll numbers on Prop. 19

    The campaign for Proposition 19 – the measure on California’s ballot next month that would legalize marijuana cultivation, possession and use – is citing new poll numbers it says show the measure is favored to pass.

    From Public Policy Polling:

    PPP continues to find Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in California, favored to pass. The margin in this week’s poll is 47/38 in favor, which does represent a tightening since July when we found it ahead 52/36. One thing that’s interesting about the marijuana polling is that it really doesn’t break down along party lines to the same extent most of the things we poll do. 56 percent of Democrats support it to 28 percent opposed and 30 percent of Republicans support it with 57 percent opposed. That’s a lot more division within the ranks of both parties than we’re seeing on a lot of stuff.

    The PPP poll surveyed 630 likely California voters from September 14 through 16; the poll has a 3.9-percentage-point margin of error.

    And from Survey USA:

    Support for Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana and allow for its regulation and taxation, also remains essentially unchanged over the past 3 weeks. Today, 47 percent (of likely voters) vote “Yes” on 19, 42 percent vote “No.” Opposition to 19 is above 50 percent among conservatives, Republicans, tea party supporters, pro-life voters, and the oldest voters. Support is above 50 percent among men, younger voters, liberals, Democrats, pro-choice voters, higher-income voters, and in the Bay Area.

    SurveyUSA – commissioned by KABC-TV Los Angeles, KPIX-TV San Francisco, KGTV-TV San Diego, and KFSN-TV Fresno – surveyed 1,000 California adults Sept. 19 through 21; 850 of them were registered to vote, and 610 of those were deemed likely to vote in next month’s election. The likely voters subset has a 4-percentage-point margin of error.

    Prop. 19’s proponents are spinning this as good news, as the yesses outnumber the noes, but I don’t think it’s that simple.

    Neither of these polls show the measure with more than 50 percent; the conventional wisdom is that a California ballot measure needs to be showing at well over a simple majority in the polls leading up to Election Day, as the election results typically underperform the polls. Prop. 19’s backers believe there’s a vast, untapped young electorate out there which will come to the ballot boxes in droves in order to support this measure; they’re very proud, for example, that the “Yes on 19” Facebook page has 177,836 friends. But not all of those friends are Californians or voters, and I’ll believe the invisible tide theory when I see it happen.

    Also, the PPP poll shows the percentage of likely voters supporting Prop. 19 has slipped five percentage points since July, while the percentage opposed has grown by two percentage points; the SurveyUSA poll shows support has remained flat in recent weeks. Neither shows the kind of trending that would be good news for the measure, especially given the fact that the “Yes on 19” campaign hasn’t racked up many big-ticket donations (though it did get $50,000 this week from Facebook and Asana cofounder Dustin Moskovitz of San Francisco) and so probably can’t afford much of an ad blitz in the final weeks before the election.


    Poll: Boxer and her hair are in the lead

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is shopping around a new poll that shows incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., leading GOP nominee Carly Fiorina by nine percentage points – and Boxer’s hair leading Fiorina’s by five.

    The Public Policy Polling survey found that although voters have mixed opinions about Boxer’s job performance – her disapproval rating outweighs her approval rating, 46 percent to 44 percent – Boxer since last month’s primary has brought shaky Democrats back into the fold while shoring up her position with independents.

    Fiorina, meanwhile, since prevailing over Tom Campbell in the somewhat bruising GOP primary has 40 percent disapproval over 28 percent approval with 32 percent yet to form an opinion, the survey found. While both Boxer and Fiorina win 77 percent of voters from each of their own parties, independents now favor Boxer 48 percent to 38 percent.

    “Over the past few months Boxer has been successful at reassuring voters that she is an effective advocate for California in the Senate and has steadily increased her lead over Carly Fiorina” said PPP President Dean Debnam, who’s firm surveyed 614 California voters from July 23-25; the poll has a four-percentage-point margin of error.

    Does Debnam’s statement sound a bit like an official DSCC line? Perhaps that’s because Public Policy Polling is clearly a Democratic polling outfit. Other recent polls have showed a closer race, and although the Wall Street Journal, fivethirtyeight.com and Pollster.com’s Mark Blumenthal have given PPP relatively high marks for accuracy, others have noted the firm’s unswerving Democratic loyalties and sometimes – ahemincendiary questions.

    Which brings us to the hair. Inspired, no doubt, by Fiorina’s didn’t-know-the-mike-was-hot gaffe last month, this PPPC poll included a question asking, “Do you have a higher opinion of Barbara Boxer’s hair or Carly Fiorina’s hair?” The results: 19 percent for Boxer, 14 percent for Fiorina and 67 percent not sure.

    “Who frackin’ cares?” apparently was not among the options offered.