The divisive Democrat vs. Democrat Congressional race in Silicon Valley between incumbent Mike Honda and his challenger Ro Khanna received a slight twist on Monday, with both campaigns releasing conflicting polls.
Khanna, who has been gaining traction at the polls after he finished in second place behind Honda in the June 3 “jungle” primary, released a new poll of likely voters stating he is now tied neck-and-neck with Honda at 38% each.
A few hours later, Honda’s campaign fired back with a poll of likely voters indicating that the incumbent enjoys a 15-point lead, with Honda at 42% and Khanna at 27%.
“This latest poll shows that Congressman Honda is the overwhelming choice of voters in the 17th Congressional District,” said Honda Campaign Manager Doug Greven.
Conversely, Jeremy Bird, who is a Khanna consultant and who also served as a top strategist for President Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, said Khanna’s upwards “trend is likely to continue in the remaining weeks as Ro and a growing number of grassroots supporters engage voters and work to turn out an electorate that is younger and less-partisan than the primary electorate.”
Both polls have one thing in common: they show an approximately 4% margin of error, leaving Honda with roughly the same percentage in both polls when that figure is factored in.
Khanna’s poll was conducted between October 8 and 9 by David Binder Research and surveyed 400 likely voters, with a 4.9% margin of error. Honda’s poll was carried out by Lake Research between October 7 and 12 and surveyed 500 likely voters, with a 4.4% margin of error.
There are still 31% of undecided voters (24% undecided according to the Khanna camp) who, if mobilized properly, could propel Khanna to a victory or conversely thrust Honda into an eighth term.
Josh Richman of the Contra Costa Times noted some of the other differences in the samples used by the two campaigns, notably the fact that Honda included more Asian voters, and more voters who claim to have voted by mail already:
Khanna’s poll respondents were 46 percent Democrats, 27 percent independents and 23 percent Republicans; Honda’s poll respondents were 46 percent Democrats, 30 percent independents and 21 percent Republicans. The district’s overall voter registration is 44 percent Democrat, 32 percent independent and 19 percent Republican, though that may not be the breakdown of the district’s likely voters.
Also, Khanna’s poll respondents were 51 percent white, 29 percent Asian and 12 percent Latino, while Honda’s poll respondents were 43 percent white, 38 percent Asian and 13 percent Latino. The U.S. Census estimates the 17th District is about 33 percent white, 52 percent Asian and 16 percent Latino.
Finally, Honda’s poll, conducted Oct. 7 through 12, indicates 21 percent of respondents already have voted by mail – that seems awfully high, given that ballots just went out Oct. 6. Only 1 percent of the respondents to Khanna’s poll, conducted Oct. 8-9, said they already had voted.
Khanna has actively sought the Republican vote, which accounts for almost 19% of total votes in the district. He emphasized his intent to mobilize that demographic in an interview with Breitbart News last week.
The men had their one and only debate on October 6 in San Jose.