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Thursday, March 4, 2010
Churches Are Key to Creating Two-Party Political System for Hawaii
By Andrew Walden @ 6:23 PM :: 8744 Views :: Environment

By Andrew Walden, (originally published 2/15/2007)

RELATED: Graphs showing number of church voters vs union voters -- Graph 1Graph 2 

Hawaii suffers immensely from the lack of a two-party system. Incumbents are routinely reelected with little or no challenge. Once in office they can do as they wish knowing that the voters have little or no choice at election time.

The result is failing schools, doctors packing up to leave, high taxes, high prices and the worst business environment in the nation. Every five years or so, dozens of politicians are rounded up and charged with illegal activities.

Yet these scandals merely clear the decks making way for a new corrupt layer. The system continues unabated and as a result 100,000s of Hawaii kamaaina now live on the mainland.

There is a simple reason for Hawaii’s one-party system: Hawaii labor unions have a highly organized get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort directed at ensuring their 141,000 members vote. This presents an obstacle to any candidate challenging the existing cozy labor-management elite which runs Hawaii.

In the absence of a ban on union dues being used for political activity, the only way to counterbalance the bloc of union voters is to create a second bloc of voters. Only Hawaii church-goers are large enough to become this second block.

According to a study by Christianity Today, a communications ministry founded by Billy Graham, in Hawaii “13.8% of the state's population … regularly attends church…. (Hawaii) was the only state where church attendance grew faster than its population growth from 2000 to 2004.” Florida in comparison sees 14.1% of its population regularly attending church.

A 2002 study by the Glenmary Research Center, a Catholic research organization based in Nashville, TN shows 383,984 “adherents” of the eight largest Christian denominations—29.54% of the population.

In the November 7, 2006 General Election 662,728 registered voters were eligible to participate. 52.7% actually cast ballots. If one assumes that 80% of union members turned out at the polls and 80% of them voted Democrat, the following numbers result:

• Hawaii Registered voters = 662,728

• 2006 General Election Turn out = 348,944 votes cast = 52.7%

• 80% of Union membership = 112,000 = 33%

• Non-union voters = 236,000 = 67%

If 80% of union voters are turning out to vote and then voting 80% Democrat, about 90,000 Democrat votes are turned out by unions (as well as 22,000 GOP votes). Using round numbers, of the remaining approx. 236,000 voters, 64% of them must vote GOP for a Republican to be elected. Only 36% of the non-union voters must vote Democrat for a Democrat win.

This 80-80 assumption about union voting patterns creates a situation similar to that which exists in many Hawaii voting districts where Democrats outpoll Republicans 2-1. But it can be changed.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 975,334 adults in Hawaii. Of these, the Census Bureau 2005 American Community Survey estimates 7.6% are non-citizens and therefore ineligible to vote. This leaves about 901,200 adult citizens. If the figures from Christianity Today are accurate, there should be about 124,400 adult citizen regular church-goers who are part of the larger group of 266,200 adult citizen “adherents” identified in the Glenmary study.

What kind of churches do the regular church goers attend? The study explains, “In Hawaii, 6.3% of the population attended an evangelical church in 2004; mainline denominations accounted for 1.8%; and 5.7% regularly worshipped in Catholic congregations.”

With the so-called “mainline” churches falling rapidly under the control of the religious left, (and their membership concurrently vanishing) it would be of little use to mobilize their voters—they would simply echo the union line.

On the other hand, mobilizing the regular church-goers who are Catholic or Evangelical to vote—12% of the adult citizen population—would create a voting bloc of 108,100 adult citizen regular church-goers who are part of a larger group of 231,600 adult citizen adherents of Catholic or Evangelical churches.

Many likely do not now participate in the electoral process. The regular church-goers equal 74% of union membership. The adherents are 164% of union membership. Church-based voter registration efforts have been conducted very successfully in many states. Such efforts do not violate churches’ requirement to remain non-partisan (upon pain of losing their tax-exempt status) because no endorsement of any candidate or party is involved in voter registration.

By creating a second bloc of voters which would counter balance the bloc of union voters, churches can alter the dynamics of Hawaii political campaigns while remaining totally non-partisan and tax-exempt.

While some might feel the GOP would have a lock on church-goers, the November, 2006 defeat of incumbent Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania by pro-life Democrat challenger Bob Casey Jr. shows otherwise.

Likewise, results from Hawaii’s recent gubernatorial election show Republican Governor Linda Lingle picking up support from heavily union districts and winning in every House District in these islands. This is the first time since 1954 that substantial numbers of union voters freed themselves from the dictates of their union officials.

With more church voters introduced into the mix, both Republicans and Democrats would have to discover ways to reach this new group and appeal for their support. As a result, Hawaii would become open to new ideas and more flexible thinking—a sharp departure from the judgmental, intrusive, dualistic and backward beliefs which now hold sway in the Legislature.

The introduction of large numbers of new church voters into the electorate could bring about a great victory for reason and enlightenment over blind faith in obscurantist socialist dogma and the inquisitors of political correctness.

For churches to mobilize their congregations at the ballot box there are three steps:

• From a church membership list the voters and non-voters must be identified by speaking with each individual.

• The non-voters who are adult citizens must be registered to vote.

• Finally all those who are registered must be contacted to cast absentee ballots or turn out to vote on Election Day.

This is precisely what the unions do with their membership list; the only difference is that the churches may not make any suggestion about who to vote for.

If regular church-goers and adherents are equally likely to be registered as the general population, there are 29,200 regular-church-going non-voters who are not registered to vote in Hawaii (27% of 108,100). About 78,900 should already be registered. Among adherents, there should be about 62,500 (27% of 231,600) who need to be registered to vote and about 169,100 already registered.

In the 2006 General Election 52.7% of registered voters cast ballots. If church-goers are also as likely to participate as other voters, the number of church-going voters who turned out would be about 41,600 (52.7% of 78,900). This means that about 66,500 –61.8% of regular church-goers--did not participate in the November 2006 Hawaii General Election. The number of adherents who turned out to vote would be about 89,100. The number not voting among all adult citizen Catholic or Evangelical adherents would be about 142,500—more than the unions’ total membership figure.

An influx of Catholic and Evangelical voters could change the outcome of many races. But as long as they sit on their hands, the politicians need not consider their views. Will they show up to vote in 2008? The answer can come only from work which will have to be done by every church in Hawaii.

Related Links:

Christianity Today study of church goers:

Glenmary study of church adherents:

Unions and the 2006 Hawaii elections (2 links):

Union Membership:


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