New Poll Shows Voters Split on 16th Congressional District Race

No clear favorite has emerged among the 11 candidates vying to replace Rep. Anna Eshoo, who announced her retirement late last year, according to a new poll conducted by independent research firm Probolsky Research and funded by San Jose Spotlight.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo led the pack, with 16 percent of respondents saying that they plan to vote for him in the March 5 primary. Coming in second is Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian with 13.3 percent, followed by Rishi Kumar, a high tech engineer who previously ran against Eshoo, at 7.5 percent, and California State Assemblymember Evan Low at 7.3 percent.

The largest cohort of voters, standing at 33.8 percent, remains undecided.

It is not unusual in a crowded race for an open seat for voters to be split. While many of the campaigns have been running in full swing since Eshoo announced her retirement, many voters are just now beginning to pay attention to the race. Ballots are now in the mail along with a slew of mailers promoting each candidate.

With intense pressure to distinguish their campaigns from the rest, candidates are raising historic amounts of money— $6 million in total to date. These funds allow candidates to make contact with voters via mailers, television advertisements, and other forms of paid media to pitch their candidacies. With so many voters undecided, money will likely be a major factor in the outcome.

Liccardo leads the money race, fundraising over $1.6 million in the last quarter according to recent reports. Low, a prolific fundraiser in the State Assembly, pulled in over $875,000, and retired Marine Peter Dixon raised over $855,000, which includes $575,000 he loaned to his own campaign. And despite fundraising for the better part of 15 years, Simitian trails in fourth at $443,000.

The survey polled a sample of 400 likely voters before they had been exposed to the deluge of campaign media that is currently in full swing. A second poll, if conducted before March, could reveal clearer trends of where voters stand as they receive more information about the candidates, as well as the results of campaign spending in the race.

However, the election is the only poll that matters. Voters, and not just those sampled, will determine the outcome.