'Democratic core' is more likely to vote, poll shows
|||Ethnic voting blocs seen as waning|
|||Table: Chances a person will register and presumably vote|
By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Staff Writer
Those who traditionally vote mostly Democrat Japanese and Filipino voters, Neighbor Island voters and longtime residents tell pollsters that they expect to vote in higher percentages than voters who might be more likely to back a Republican notably Caucasians, O'ahu voters and newer residents.
Pollster Rebecca Ward of Ward Research, the firm that conducted the voter survey earlier this year, said that union support of Democrats has been a key factor in previous statewide elections, and could be again. Unions have been able to muster support for their candidates in the final days of an election. But surveys also show Lingle has been able to make inroads in garnering the backing of union households.
"Lingle's big issue is going to be turnout, I think, turnout among her voters, and she needs to find some way to hold off the unions," Ward said. "My sense is that if everybody that says they support her turns out, that might counter that union pressure."
The trick for Lingle is to get her supporters excited enough that they show up at the polls in large numbers. Hirono must reach beyond her Democratic Party base and persuade undecided voters that she can be the vehicle for change that she claims to be.
"The numbers we see for her are still the Democratic core the AJAs (Americans of Japanese ancestry), the Filipinos, the union households. I don't think she's connected to the swing voters yet. She hasn't done very much to increase her base," Ward said. "I don't think she's found a message yet."
Hirono said she is trying to deliver a more focused message within the framework of the values of the Democratic tradition in Hawai'i.
"The traditional voters AJAs, older people, Neighbor Islands over O'ahu these are the people who still vote Democratic and believe in Democratic values. Our message is not only to the traditional voters, but also to independents," Hirono said.
Lorraine Akiba, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Hawai'i, said Hirono and running mate Matt Matsunaga will be speaking out on education, healthcare, the economy and other issues in the days leading up to the Nov. 5 election.
"They are both beginning to articulate for the voters their specific plans, and I think they need to do that," Akiba said.
Lingle said she is sticking by her campaign strategy and does not expect to take a new direction in the last weeks. "We have a great plan," she said.
Hawai'i Republican Party Chairman Micah Kane said Lingle will try to push home the concept that Hirono represents a continuation of the Democratic people and policies that have been in place since the 1960s. A Lingle candidacy represents new people and ideas, and a policy of decentralization turning over educational authority from a single state school board to local direction, and passing more power to the county governments.
Lingle agrees with suggestions from poll data that her campaign would be hurt by low voter turnout. Voter turnout in last month's primary election was the lowest in a Hawai'i gubernatorial primary in more than 25 years.
"I think a high turnout is very important. I think the general election turnout will be better than in the primary. We're doing everything we can to try to encourage people to vote... We're on the road every day now," she said.
Kane said the Republican Party in Hawai'i is taking a message from the "old" Hawai'i Democratic Party, and trying to build its support from the grassroots.
"I really think that the election is going to be won on the ground. Our plan is to earn the respect of voters by getting out there. Sweat equity," he said.
The voter survey numbers also show that women are more likely to vote than men, although the difference is slight, as are people with household incomes of $50,000 or more.
By far, residents age 18 to 34 are least likely to vote compared with their elders. The 55-and-older bunch are the most faithful voters, which could spell trouble for turnout in future elections if younger generations do not step up to the voting booth.
The February survey covered 501 Hawai'i residents and had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Reach Jan TenBruggencate at email@example.com or (808)245-3074.
Correction: Ward Research conducted a voter survey of 501 Hawai'i residents in February that had a margin of error of 4.4 percent. A previous version of this story failed to give the margin of error.