Polls Show Ties for Mayoral, Congressional Candidates

Two new polls show candidates are neck-and-neck in both the San Jose mayor's race and the battle for Silicon Valley's 17th Congressional District seat. But, as expected, not everyone agrees on the numbers.

The first poll, commissioned last week by Sam Liccardo's campaign and released Monday, has Liccardo and county Supervisor Dave Cortese suddenly tied in the mayor's race, though the pool of undecided voters increased since the last survey in August. A survey of 400 likely San Jose voters, conducted by pollster Jim Moore, has Liccardo and Cortese in a dead heat at 30 percent each, with 40 percent of voters undecided. The margin of error: 5 percentage points.

The number of undecided voters jumped by 15 percent since the previous poll in mid-August.

"You would think, with all the hit pieces going back and forth, that negatives on both these candidates would have increased, but they haven't,” Moore told San Jose Inside. "Voters are just pulling back and not judging anything.”

Moore's company, JMM Research, has previously conducted polls for Santa Clara County's Measure A sales tax in 2012 and Measure B transportation taxes back in 1992. The firm has also carried out polls for Gov. Jerry Brown, state senator-turned county supervisor Joe Simitian and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto).

Liccardo’s camp declined to provide the full poll to San Jose Inside but touted the new figures as showing the San Jose councilman has made a dramatic climb since the primary.

“All the momentum is with us,” campaign manager Ragan Henninger boasted in a newsletter blasted out Monday.

Cortese’s team, however, dismissed the numbers as hype.

“It looks like political spin to me,” Cortese spokesman Vince Rocha told San Jose Inside. “I think for us, we don’t need the spin. We’re focused on talking to the voters about public safety in San Jose, so we can lead the only poll that matters, the one on Nov. 4.”

The second poll released this week apparently shows Ro Khanna has caught up to seven-term incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) in the D-17 race.

The survey reached out to 400 likely voters in the South Bay congressional district Oct. 8 and 9, according to David Binder Research, which conducted the poll on behalf of the Khanna campaign. The results reportedly have the candidates even at 38 percent, with 24 percent undecided and a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Khanna's campaign said the 37-year-old patent attorney has moved up from just 5 percent in a polls conducted last year to a tie in the past month. Part of the recent momentum has been attributed to the candidates' only televised debate held last week. The poll suggests Honda has dropped nearly 20 percentage points in the last year and a half. Read the full text of the poll here.

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Results from Khanna's poll.

Honda's campaign dismissed the numbers, saying they don't match up. A Democratic polling firm hired by Honda's campaign released its own poll showing the incumbent up by 15 points. You can read the abridged poll questions here (the Honda campaign didn't release the full script).

"Even after millions of dollars spent on Khanna’s behalf, voters in the 17th Congressional District continue to stand behind Mike Honda’s record of effective service, while Khanna struggles to connect with voters," Honda pollster David Mermin, of Lake Research Partners, announced Monday.

Lake Research is the same firm that predicted a sure victory for embattled ex-Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi in her race earlier this year for the 10th Senate District. But Hayashi finished a distant third in the June primary—leaving her out of the runoff.

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Results from Honda's poll.

Khanna's campaign noted that Honda may have fallen back in the polls because of a San Jose Inside investigation that showed the congressman's chief-of-staff, Jennifer Van der Heide, violated ethics laws by coordinating campaign efforts with official staff work.

Honda was forced to respond, saying he was "disappointed" in his staff and that Van der Heide had apologized. Khanna's supporters filed a complaint against Honda, who has said he welcomes an investigation by the House Ethics Commission.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Dave won the primary and will win this one too! If not, God help us because San Jose will surely be the next Oakland.

  2. How can Liccardo claim he’s got the momentum? Based on the poll he can’t even claim to have the support of Nguyen and Oliverio voters, something he would need to win.

  3. Why can’t we read the Khanna poll script? The article seems to discredit the Honda polling firm, but their poll script does not seem slanted. If the Khanna poll arrived at a dramatically different result, shouldn’t we, in the interest of fairness, be able to evaluate that script as well?

    • Actually it’s Honda who has redacted his poll, not allowing the press (or anyone) to read the full text. Likely because there was something shady going on with the numbers. Remember Honda only released his poll cause Ro released his. They were caught off guard by the tied race and scrambled to try to halt and Romentum. Ro’s poll is fully transparent. The article links to the full text of the polls but here it is as well: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rnwtwi7oh9isjui/DBR%20CD17%20Tracker%20Results.pdf?dl=0

      • Really? First, the article seems to have added the script of Khanna’s poll after my initial posting. That’s ok — better late than never. Second, Khanna’s poll seems to be doing double duty. In addition to polling, it looks like it is out to educate the public on recent negative press coverage on Honda. It might be less slanted if it also chose to “educate” the public on potentially negative things that could be said about Khanna — for example, that although he is running as a centrist, pro-business Democrat today, he ran as a far-left candidate in 2004 in an unsuccessful effort to unseat Tom Lantos (the Iraq war being the dominant issue at the time). Also, that Khanna can be accused of being an opportunistic carpetbagger with no demonstrated record of core beliefs — just a demonstrated desire for power and public office. Also, that although Khanna has the support of Obama campaign operatives, President Obama himself supports Honda. Khanna’s poll asks — “if you heard these negative things about Honda, would you vote Khanna?” It should also ask — “if you heard these negative things about Khanna, would you vote Honda?” Because it is a biased (and therefore untrustworthy) poll, it does not do that.

        • Hello Mike Honda staffer! (I hope if you are a member of the official staff that you are on your personal computer, it is recess, so we know you have the time off so no foul there, you don’t have to worry about conflagrating the ethics scandal in progress).

          You are getting really really defensive here. It’s okay. Change is inevitable. Ro Khanna is a good man, smart, quick on his feet, and ready for the challenges of the 21st century. Mike Honda is also a good man, but just way past his prime, and especially in a post Pork Barrel era, ill suited to delivering results. I mean the man has only passed one bill in 14 years, to name a post office.

          Silicon Valley can do way better.

          Honda doesn’t even live in the district, so look to your candidate before you go throwing carpet bagger charges around.

          Finally I find it ironic that you are picking apart Ro’s poll, when Honda hasn’t released his own poll fin its entirety for us to be able to pick apart. If he’s really up by 15% what does he have to hide?

          It’s okay! The Romentum is growing, and it looks ever more likely that you might be crying on election night when your favorite sacred cow gets put to pasture.

          This is the way of the world, and Silicon Valley. One day someone is going to replace Ro too.

          Right now though it’s time for an upgrade in Congress for Silicon Valley.

          • Hello Khanna staffer! Who also seems to have an IN into San Jose Inside, since you were able to get them to add Khanna’s poll script after my initial posting. Or maybe you’re just a biased San Jose Inside reporter. In either case, no I am not a Honda staffer. Though if you are a Khanna staffer, here is hoping you are using your personal computer. And if you are a journalist, here is hoping you will frankly disclose your bias someday. In any case, no I don’t really care that much who wins- the candidates are not that different on the real issues. Just been around long enough to see Ro say and do anything to get elected, and think it worth pointing out. He can use silicon valley jargon as much as he wants(the disruption candidate???!!!). I know there is no substance behind his words. Have been following him long enough to know that. There is an unhealthy kind of hunger in the guy. If that gets him places, so be it. But cooked-up allegations of ethical violations by Honda (a man who supposedly is not awake enough to violate ethics) and phony silicon valley mumbo jumbo do not convince this silicon valley voter.

  4. > has Liccardo and Cortese in a dead heat at 30 percent each, with 40 percent of voters undecided. The margin of error: 5 percentage points.


    70 percent of voters don’t want Liccardo.
    70 percent of voters don’t want Cortese.

    70 percent of voters agree with me.

  5. So Jen,

    Where is the poll by JMM Research for the San Jose Mayor’s race? All I read here is what the Liccardo camp is telling you. I would like to see the entire poll and questions that were asked.

    • Michael,

      We requested the full poll but Liccardo’s camp declined to make it available. I have made a note of that in the story.

      Thanks for reading,


      • Between the lines – “what the Liccardo camp is telling you” – let me guess, an endorsement for Liccardo hahaha ughhh ya. you and SJC are still stuck on stupid with your – he endorsed campos boohoohoo’s, actually sound alot like SJC/JK

  6. I wouldn’t believe anything Liccardo’s campaign told us anyway. He has twisted and lied about everything thus far.

  7. Hondo. Ro-ro. Whatever.

    Whoever wins will be a back bencher in a GOP House.

    Probably better for Hondo to win. He can snooze peacefully and Ro-Ro can maybe get a real job somewhere.

  8. Liccardo is claiming to be in a tie with Cortese. He has the endorsement of most of the city council and mayor. Pier would have endorsed him too if he was not embroiled in his own legal predicament. Not sure why he thinks this is good news. By all rights, he should be way ahead at this point, and at best, using his own commissioned poll, he is in a tie. He is a spin master to put this out as some encouraging sign. It is more like damage control.

  9. The fact that liccardo won’t release the entire poll tells the real truth. What do they have to hide, unless they are lying? Until they release the entire poll, I will take what he says with a grain of salt and believe that he is not being truthful. What else is new?

    • Just as he when he is saying the police department has increased staffing, or crime stats or down, he is manipulating the actual facts. That is a nice way of saying Sam is lying, and the fact he is hiding part of the polling data only confirms this.

  10. SJ voters have been given a clear choice in the Mayors race. Neither is palatable to me.
    40%, including myslf, would rather have a “none of the above” box to check.

    I know little about Khanna; but it’s clear to me that Good Time Mike needs to go. It’s equally clear to me that the same parasites who voted for Obama ‘cuz of the free sh*t he promised will re-elect do nothing Mike Honda.

    Think I’ll have another glass of pinot noir.

    • you and your free sh rants – teabagging fad is over, you still mad that Obama kicked you right wingers in the teeth twice lol sour grape whiners

      • Anthony, you seem like you prefer huggies over pampers….definitely a special type of whining from you. I know your preferred candidate Forrest Williams was ostracized for challenging Cortese but the least you could is gracefully crawl back into the hole you came out of.

  11. I vote for Sam. San Jose will be better off with a Mayor willing to bring real solutions to San Jose’s fiscal problems. Cortese will get San Jose into more fiscal problems and make the city less business friendly by raising taxes to pay for all of pensions we can’t afford.

    • liccardo hasn’t brought a “real solution” to San Jose in the 8 years he has been a council clown. He can’t even find a solution to clean up his district.

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