Poll: Peralez slightly leads in San Jose mayor’s race
San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez speaks in support of an affordable housing projected located in a police parking lot on Feb. 9. Photo by Tran Nguyen.

A new poll released Tuesday shows San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez are leading the mayoral race in the heart of Silicon Valley—with Peralez having a slight edge over Chavez.

New polling data of likely June 2022 primary voters, conducted by polling firm Tulchin Research and paid for by Peralez’s campaign, shows Chavez leading the race with Peralez placing second—with the pair swapping places when those surveyed received more information about the candidates. San Jose Councilmembers Matt Mahan and Dev Davis came in third and fourth place, respectively, according to the data.

The poll, with a margin of error of 4.4% points, was conducted between Feb. 5-10 in English and Spanish via calls, texts and emails among 500 likely primary voters. Tulchin Research most recently handled polling for New York Mayor Eric Adams successful campaign in 2021.

The poll shows Chavez, a longtime South Bay politician, attracts support from almost 3 in 10 voters—28%—while Peralez, a former police officer and teacher, comes in a distant second with 13% in the highly-anticipated race to replace Mayor Sam Liccardo who terms out this year. Mahan receives 7% and Davis 6%, with 40% of voters still undecided.

But Peralez and Chavez polled neck-and-neck at 28% and 27%, respectively, after pollsters provided positive bios on the candidates. The poll shows Peralez gained 15 points after the bio, while Chavez saw a one point reduction.

Peralez, who has trailed both Chavez and Mahan in fundraising, said he’s encouraged to see the results. He also competes with Chavez for labor endorsements.

“I’m excited to see the results of the poll,” Peralez told San José Spotlight. “It reflects what I’ve been hearing on the ground speaking with voters. Many previously undecided voters and residents of the city are very enthusiastic and responsive when they learn about our campaign.”

Chavez’s campaign declined to comment.

Mahan and Davis also saw a bump in polling percentages—receiving 12% and 8%, respectively—after those polled heard positive bios about the candidates. The number of undecided voters shrunk from 40% to 16%.

“It’s impressive and very encouraging for (Peralez’s) campaign,” Ben Tulchin, founder and president of Tulchin Research, told San José Spotlight. “We don’t see this that often where a candidate moved a lot (after the bio).”

Peralez, who has represented downtown San Jose since 2014, helped launch a business recovery task force to help downtown businesses weather the pandemic. The son of an immigrant and the first in his family to graduate college, Peralez said homelessness has been his No. 1 priority. Peralez is also the only leading mayoral candidate who supports Senate Bill 9, which allows property owners to build additional homes on existing lots in single-family neighborhoods.

Peralez has scored endorsements from San Jose Councilmembers Magdalena Carrasco, Sylvia Arenas, Maya Esparza and Sergio Jimenez, along with small business owners, educators and other local leaders.

Chavez, a South Bay lawmaker with the longest political tenure of anyone in the field, is a vocal leader in the fight to close Reid-Hillview Airport amid concerns that leaded fuel is poisoning the community and a champion of the Vietnamese community in the area. She led the efforts to open the Vietnamese American Service Center with state Sen. Dave Cortese.

Chavez, who has roots in Working Partnerships USA and the South Bay Labor Council, has scored endorsements from pro-labor politicians including San Jose Councilmembers Carrasco and David Cohen, as well as state Assemblymember Evan Low. She has also gotten business-friendly support from former Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO and Bloom Energy executive Carl Guardino and San Francisco 49ers leadership.

Davis and Mahan, who are more aligned as pro-business, have scored endorsements from the Silicon Valley Biz PAC.

Terry Christensen, political science professor emeritus at San Jose State University, said the poll appears to favor Peralez, but the race is far too early from being called.

“I also think the Asian vote is going to be really important in this election,” Christensen told San José Spotlight. “There are more Asian voters than Latino voters in the city. With Vietnamese being the largest voting bloc (among Asian voters), Cindy’s got real strength there and it will be hard for the others to cut into that.”

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter. 

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