Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Democrats Battle in CA-17; Spitzer Reels

In House, Mayor, Polls on August 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

Khanna-Honda

The elimination of California’s partisan primaries, as was done prior to the last election, will again seriously affect Golden State politics in the 2014 mid-term vote. Under the state’s new jungle primary law, the top two candidates in the June election advance to the general regardless of political party affiliation and percentages attained. Therefore, former US Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Ro Khanna’s intra-party Democratic challenge to seven-term Rep. Mike Honda will likely last the entire campaign cycle.

Khanna has already been extraordinarily successful on the fundraising circuit, attracting more than $1 million for the 2014 race, and exceeding $1.7 million cash-on-hand. In the 2012 cycle, Khanna was briefly in the 15th District race when he believed that 80 year-old then-incumbent Pete Stark (D) was going to retire. Upon Stark’s decision to run again, all Democratic contenders with the exception of Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell withdrew. Swalwell then successfully unseated Rep. Stark 52-48 percent in a Democrat-on-Democrat general election.

Before exiting the Stark campaign, Khanna raised over $1.26 million and had north of $1 million remaining in his campaign account, thus explaining the large early war chest for his Honda challenge. Conversely, Rep. Honda has not been as financially prolific in early 2013, obtaining over $567,000, but ending with less than $375,000 in the bank.

But a just-released Public Policy Polling survey for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (Aug. 2-4; 806 registered CA-17 voters) shows that Khanna has a long way to go if he is to upset this incumbent, as Honda leads the ballot test 49-15 percent. The result is similar to the previously released Lake Research poll (Feb. 17-20; 503 registered CA-17 voters), commissioned for the Honda campaign, that posted the congressman to a 57-13-5 percent margin over 2012 Republican candidate Evelyn Li and Khanna, respectively.

The PPP data comes from a series of surveys all conducted with a decidedly liberal skew. In pairing Honda and Khanna, since they are both Democrats from a Democratic region, the leftward push questions are inconsequential so the results are likely valid.

Khanna’s money suggests that he will run a highly active campaign, but the task of unseating this incumbent is no easy feat. Honda begins this race as the overwhelming favorite for re-election.

NYC Comptroller

A new Quinnipiac University poll (Aug. 22-27; 602 registered NYC Democrats) detects that disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s (D) previous 19-point lead in his comeback attempt for election as New York City Comptroller has completely dissipated. After an advertising blitz from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D), the two candidates are tied at 46 percent. Two weeks prior (Aug. 7-12), the Q-Poll registered a 56-37 percent advantage for Spitzer. That poll, however was tempered by a survey from a union independent expenditure committee, called Progress NYC, that forecast only a 39-33 percent spread in favor of the former governor and state attorney general.

The current Q-Poll also posts NYC Public Advocate Bill deBlasio (D) to a major 36-21-20-8 percent Democratic primary lead over City Council President Christine Quinn, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, and scandal-ridden former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) in the city’s open mayoral contest.

In New York City primary races, if no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote in the respective Sept. 10 political party primary elections, the top two finishers for each party will run-off Oct. 1. The city’s regular general election is scheduled for Nov. 5.

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