Trail Mix: Notes from the Hawaii Campaign Trail

Each week, the HONOLULU Magazine political team compiles a mix of observations about Hawaii politics. These interesting bits are often not worth a full story, but we don’t want to keep them to ourselves, either. Here’s your Trail Mix for this week:

Brian Schatz Leads Colleen Hanabusa by 15 points?

These poll results, released Tuesday, made us do a double take—after all, nearly every poll in the Schatz-Hanabusa race shows it neck and neck. Is it possible Schatz has jumped out ahead, by that much? Maybe, but it’s not likely, says John Hart, Hawaii Pacific University communication professor.

For starters, the poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Mainland Democratic pollster. And, we all know the rocky history of Mainland polls here. For one, it turns out local people refuse to answer more when quizzed by pollsters who employ people who mispronounce local names. More than that, though, PPP conducted the poll on behalf of Democracy for America, a progressive group that has thrown its hat in the ring for Schatz. “Any poll commissioned by a candidate or by a group supporting that candidate has to be considered with a healthy amount of skepticism,” Hart says.

The poll also asked a few questions that appear biased, Hart says. For example, poll participants were asked if they’d be less likely to vote for Hanabusa for supporting “recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission, which proposed cuts to Social Security benefits.” The Schatz campaign has been hitting Hanabusa on Social Security, even though she has said she does not support cuts to it. Followers of our blog will recall that last week local pollster Rebecca Ward, of Ward Research, pointed out that “push polls” ask loaded questions to influence the results. The results are then released to the public in order “suggest that public opinion is different than what it truly is.”

Who would be Mufi Hannemann’s Lieutenant Governor?

Now that Mufi Hannemann has eschewed the Democratic party to run for governor under the banner of the newly created Hawaii Independent Party, who will be his running mate come the general election?

So far, no one is vying for the state’s second highest post as a Hawaii Independent. Michelle Del Rosario, chairwoman of the Hawaii Independent Party, says the party is currently “vetting a number of candidates” for the lieutenant governor’s race and plans to have someone by the June 3 filing deadline. The state Constitution requires that a lieutenant governor candidate run on the same ticket as the gubernatorial candidate. She would not specify who has expressed interest, but she says there have been a number of potential candidates who’d like to run under the Hawaii Independent banner, even beyond the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s race.

Drawing Lots for the Primary Election Ballot

In April, the Hawaii state Office of Elections set the order that political parties, as well as the nonpartisan candidates, will appear on the 2014 ballot.

The office determined the position by drawing lots, which resulted in this order for the 2014 Primary Election ballot:

  1. Libertarian Party
  2. Hawaii Independent Party
  3. Republican Party
  4. Green Party
  5. Nonpartisan
  6. Democratic Party

Who says there’s no games of chance in Hawaii?