by Andrew Walden
In a Washington Post article published this morning, the national Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee takes the unusual step of attacking a Democratic Senate Primary candidate--Ed Case—for polling that one DSCC staffer calls “not honest”. Case’s crime? Releasing polling results yesterday which show Governor Linda Lingle beating Rep Mazie Hirono by 5% in the General Election for US Senate. DSCC is working hand in glove with Sen. Dan Inouye. Even DSCC’s choice of words -- “not honest” -- echoes Inouye’s lengthy record of attacks on Case.
The DSCC’s purpose is to suppress the Ed Case vote in next August’s Hawaii Senate Democratic Primary. Their counter argument relies upon DSCC polls and Ward Research polls designed to so make a Hirono victory look inevitable. Ward Research is go-to resource for any Hawaii power broker in need of a favorable polling result for their latest “Big Project”. On the other hand, Case’s pollster, Merriman River, produced the most accurate Hawaii polls of the 2010 election season.
The joint objective of Inouye and the DSCC is to spend Hawaii Democrat money on Mainland Senate races instead of having to spend Mainland Democrat money on Hawaii races--as was the case in 2010. They need every penny if they are to hold back the Republican tide and keep Inouye in the Majority for his final term(s).
Predictably, Hawaii print and television news outlets are not exactly headlining Case’s poll results. In the Star-Advertiser Case’s poll was buried in the Political Radar column. In contrast, the Ward Research Senate poll released last March was sponsored by Hawaii News Now and the Star-Advertiser and received wide media coverage. As usual, Hawaii has to go to national publications to get the local story.
The National Journal writes:
Former Hawaii Democratic Rep. Ed Case has a history of irking Democratic powerbrokers, from challenging Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, in a primary, to hanging around a three-way House election that handed the race to a Republican.
Now as he seeks the state's open Senate seat, he's releasing a poll that shows him in strong position against former GOP Gov. Linda Lingle (a potential candidate), but his Democratic opponent losing to her in the deep-blue state. By subtly suggesting that Rep. Mazie Hirono would have trouble defeating Lingle, he's fueling Republican recruitment of Lingle and putting Democrats on the defensive. What's good for Case, isn't always good for his party.
Picking up on that last line, Mazie Hirono’s Civil Beat supporters write: “Case Poll Could Hurt Dems.”
And the Washington Post intones:
The national Democratic Party is issuing a rare reprimand of one of its Senate candidates, speaking out against a poll released by former congressman Ed Case in the Hawaii Senate primary.
The Case poll, conducted by the Merriman River Group, showed him leading Rep. Mazie Hirono in a primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) by 16 points.
But the more objectionable part of the poll, according to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is that it showed Case leading former Republican governor Linda Lingle by 10 points, but Hirono trailing Lingle by five — a gap of 15 points between the two Democrats in a general election matchup.
DSCC executive director Guy Cecil accused Case of not “being honest” with the poll. “It exaggerates support for him and for Lingle,” Cecil said. “It also contradicts polling we have done in this race that shows Hirono leading Lingle by 19 points.”
Merriman River Group executive director Matthew E. Fitch told The Fix that the poll is one of three the firm has conducted in the race, and that the results echo the other two polls. He also noted that the group has lots of experience polling in the state and was very close to predicting the result of a 2010 special congressional election in which Case was a candidate.
“It’s the nature of primary and defining likely voters,” Fitch said. “Our poll is pretty exact as far as finding actual voters.”
Case could not be immediately reached for comment.
The DSCC’s poll, conducted by the Mellman Group earlier this year, showed Hirono leading Lingle 54 percent to 35 percent. The DSCC wouldn’t say whether it polled Case as well.
And a Ward Research poll conducted in May for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser showed Hirono leading Lingle by 22 points and Case leading her by 18.
The DSCC hasn’t taken sides in the primary, but it’s rare for a national party committee to speak out publicly against one of its candidates in a primary. At the same time, this isn’t the first time that Case has irritated the party establishment.
In 2006, Case made plenty of enemies, including Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), when he decided to challenge Akaka in a primary. Inouye said Case had lied to him by saying he wouldn’t pursue the race. Akaka won the primary 55 percent to 45 percent.
Then, in 2010, Case muddied the waters in a free-for-all special election for one of the state’s two House seats, splitting the Democratic vote with Colleen Hanabusa and allowing Republican Charles Djou to win the seat with less than 40 percent of the vote. Later, in a head-to-head matchup in November, Hanabusa beat Djou
The DSCC’s litany of polls ignores a March 11 polling release by Case’s campaign showing him beating a potential Hannemann candidacy 47% to 35%. Case vs. Hirono numbers were not part of that polling release. Case’s March poll showed him beating Lingle 49-37%, his polling yesterday showed a nearly identical count: Case beating Lingle 48%-38%.