Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 2/17
by David Nir, Daily KOS, Feb 17, 2014 (excerpt)
HI-Sen, -Gov: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now have, as they do from time to time, commissioned a poll from Ward Research of all of Hawaii's major races this year. We'll start at the top with the Democratic primary for Senate, though you'll want to take in all of their results. Ward, which hadn't previously surveyed the contest, finds Rep. Colleen Hanabusa leading Sen. Brian Schatz 48-40. These numbers inspired Schatz leak a month-old internal poll from the Mellman Group that instead have him ahead 41-37, a slight uptick from his 38-37 edge last June.
Ward actually has a pretty decent track record in difficult-to-poll Hawaii, while Mellman clients haven't released very many polls from the Aloha State. (They did, however, work for Mazie Hirono's successful Senate campaign last cycle.) So their Senate findings are certainly plausible, especially since Hanabusa, with a favorability rating of 62-27, is still slightly better known than Schatz (51-25). However, Schatz's team sent out a reminder that Ward seriously muffed the HI-02 Democratic primary last cycle, putting Mufi Hannemann up 10 when Tulsi Gabbard won by 21.
It's Ward's gubernatorial numbers, though, that are really out there. The race hasn't been polled by anyone previously, but even so, Republican Duke Aiona's 48-40 lead over Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie is just hard to believe. Now, you might say that Abercrombie's not well-liked, so perhaps it's possible that he's trailing. But he's not that unpopular, with favorables of 45-48, and Hawaii is still an extremely blue state. (Aiona's remarkably popular, though, earning a 58-26 favorability score.)
Here's something else that stands out. Aiona, the 2010 GOP nominee, also beats state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, by a 51-34 spread. Ige is mostly unknown, so he's a decent stand-in for Generic Democrat. But if Aiona is actually beating Abercrombie because of the incumbent's singular flaws, then his share of the vote shouldn't be higher against Generic D. (Think about it this way: Alaska Sen. Mark Begich's support is going to be stronger against the despised Joe Miller than it would be against a generic Republican.)
Ige, who just earned the endorsement of the 13,500-strong Hawaii State Teachers Association, is also not too far behind Abercrombie in the primary matchup, trailing 47-38. So either this poll shows that Abercrombie, despite sporting a middling favorability rating and running for re-election in a solidly Democratic state, is somehow in incredibly dire straits... or it's just simply incorrect. (And if it's the latter, then the Senate numbers are questionable, too.) No matter what, though, this is an excellent example of why you can never judge a race based on a single survey, especially in quirky Hawaii.