Incumbent Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda advanced early with 51% of the vote–which was later adjusted to 48%–and will compete against fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, who has clinched a second-place finish with 27% of the vote to advance into November’s general election.
November’s race will prove to be both challenging and expensive for the Democratic Party. It remains to be seen who will gain the affections of the changing demographic in that region and the pool of Republican and independent votes that are now up for grabs.
District 17 has experienced a quadrupling in its South Asian population since 2012, a statistic that could benefit Khanna, who is of Indian descent, over Honda, who is Japanese. Honda will turn 73 later this month and enjoys the benefits of a strong loyal backing by traditional liberal interest groups. Khanna, 37, has won support from heavy-hitting Silicon Valley tech titans and raised much more money than Honda. Honda, however, has more cash on hand to proceed into November’s general, as he has spent less on advertising so far than Khanna has.
This begs the question of which candidate will be able to garner independent and Republican votes, as both GOP candidates, Dr. Vanila Singh and Joel Vanlandingham, are now out of the running.
Independents account for 32% of District 17 voters. Khanna is trending ahead of Honda in that area and is also projected to sway votes from individuals who had backed Singh and perhaps even Vanlandingham.
Traditionally, the candidate with the most backing from interest groups with ties along his party lines tends to finish ahead and win. While Honda is ahead of Khanna in this area, other factors in Khanna’s favor will make defending his incumbency a great challenge for Honda.