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Wednesday, August 17, 2016
OHA Funds Voter Sentiment Survey to Help Incumbents
By Andrew Walden @ 7:52 PM :: 5047 Views :: Ethics, OHA

by Andrew Walden

A voter survey paid for by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs reveals that Native Hawaiians see nation-building as a bottom of the barrel issue—but OHA isn’t telling anyone except incumbent Trustees.

Hired by OHA, the Bishop Street PR firm Stryker Weiner & Yokota early this year surveyed 743 Hawaiians and 496 non-Hawaiians.  The results were provided to Trustees at a Board of Trustees meeting January 28, 2016—just in time for campaign season--in a 21-page power point presentation under the nondescript agenda heading of “Presentation by Stryker Weiner & Yokota.”

No other department of the State of Hawaii engages in this type of open electioneering.

The survey attracted our notice only when incumbent Trustee Robert Lindsey, in the Ka Wai Ola August, 2016 election insert (pg3), commented on the survey results, writing:

Our lahui, when surveyed in 1978 (OHA’s founding), and recently (four months ago), have made it clear; ‘bread and butter’ issues (education, health, housing, and jobs) are what’s important to them.  It wants OHA to focus on these issues.  In 2016 the majority of respondents see nation-building as a bottom of the barrel issue. OHA must refocus, reboot, and rethink its basic priorities if it is to be in alignment with the wishes of our people.  

Even after Lindsey’s revelation, OHA did not respond to our request for a complete copy of the survey results.  One OHA source—not realizing that Lindsey let the cat out of the bag--expressed surprise that we were aware of the survey’s existence.  Finally, from another source, we were able to get a copy of a Power Point presentation outlining the survey results.  

Readers may see it in full >>> HERE.

UPDATE August 26, 2016—The following response has been received from Nola Ota, UIPA Coordinator, Office of Hawaiian Affairs:

“OHA will not be responding to this request made to I am aware that you have already published the document that you are requesting, obtained from another source. 

“OHA does not have of any other documents related to the survey.

“The presentation was made in the Boardroom to the Trustees and OHA staff present, and anyone from the public who attended the meeting. And, as with all our Board meetings, it was also on live stream. Our agendas are posted, as required, on the ‘State of Hawaii Event Calendar’ and the website, at least 6 days prior to any meeting.”

Highlights include:

A survey of voter attitudes toward OHA—broken down by county—and the reasons for those attitudes (pg 7-10):

  • Pg 8: Of the Native Hawaiian organizations listed, OHA has the lowest favorability rating.
  • Pg 9: People on the Big Island are wiser to OHA than the rest.
  • Pg 10: Perceptions of poor management and not representing the Hawaiian people effectively - top two reasons for unfavorable rating.  --  Of Hawaiians only 8% base their unfavorable opinion of OHA on “OHA influenced/run by State or American government.”

Sampling of voters’ political priorities and their awareness of OHA initiatives (pg 11-14):

  • Pg 11: Among Hawaiians student scholarships and community grants are two of the three most widely recognized OHA initiatives. 
  • Pg 13: “Our lahui, when surveyed in 1978 (OHA’s founding), and recently (four months ago), have made it clear; ‘bread and butter’ issues (education, health, housing, and jobs) are what’s important to them.  It wants OHA to focus on these issues.  In 2016 the majority of respondents see nation-building as a bottom of the barrel issue.”  OHA Chair Robert Lindsey, Ka Wai Ola, Aug, 2016.  This proves that the survey was made available to at least one incumbent Trustee facing an electoral challenge.

Detailed voter segmentation information (pg 15-18): 

  • Pg 15: 48% of Hawaiians say they have never voted in an OHA election.
  • Pg 16: Hawaiians on Big Island are most likely to vote in every OHA election.  Hawaiians on Oahu are the most likely to have never voted in an OHA election.
  • Pg 17: Hawaiians with neutral opinion toward OHA re least likely to vote in OHA elections.
  • Pg 18: Non-Hawaiians with a very unfavorable opinion of OHA most likely to vote in every OHA election.

Do Trustees have access to more detailed results, perhaps breaking down voter sentiment by gender, age, income, and ethnicity?

Why is a department of the State of Hawaii funding voter sentiment research for the benefit of incumbents’ campaigns?


Related:  Trustee: OHA Wasted $33M on Akaka Bill


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