Tight race for seat in Congress
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
A new poll taken for Daily Kos, a liberal website, shows a three-way tie in the May special election for Congress in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District.
City Councilman Charles Djou was at 32 percent in the poll, former congressman Ed Case was at 29 percent, and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa was at 28 percent. Four percent supported other candidates. Seven percent were undecided.
The poll was taken from Sunday to Wednesday by Research 2000 for Daily Kos among 500 likely voters who live in the district. The margin of error was 4.5 percentage points.
Several private polls have shown that the race is contracting, with Case and Djou alternating in front and Hanabusa trailing slightly. The Daily Kos poll is the first poll publicly released since a January survey sponsored by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and KITV, which had Case comfortably in the lead.
The poll results likely will fuel concern among national and local Democrats that Case and Hanabusa will split the Democratic vote and hand the special election to Djou, a Republican.
National Democrats are concerned that a loss in a traditionally Democratic state — and in President Obama's hometown congressional district — will give Republicans momentum leading up to the November midterm elections.
Obama has a 61 percent favorable rating in the district, according to the Daily Kos poll.
The poll also found that 45 percent would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the new health care reform law, compared with 31 percent who would back a candidate who wants to repeal the law.
Case and Hanabusa have supported health care reform. Djou has opposed the law.
Case had a higher favorable rating (47 percent) than Djou (40) and Hanabusa (37).
Daily Kos, founded by Markos Moulitsas, is a website popular with progressives. Activists have used the site to build "netroots" political and fundraising support for progressive candidates.
"Hanabusa likely suffers from being seen as the establishment candidate in an anti-establishment year," Moulitsas wrote in a post about the poll results. "Unfortunately, she's the better candidate, by far."
Moulitsas, like many Democrats locally, suggests that a Djou victory would be temporary and that Demo-crats would likely recapture the seat in November.
"While I'm excited about the clear momentum our campaign is building, as reflected in this poll, the only poll that counts is the one by the voters," Djou said in a statement.
Case said he does not think Hanabusa, despite a fundraising advantage, has been able to move forward and is about at the same place in the polls she was in January.
"This is coming down to a straight choice between me and Charles Djou," Case said.
Hanabusa, however, said the poll reflected her momentum.
"I'm thrilled that the hard work of our campaign volunteers and the outpouring of grassroots support are paying off. My message of reform and hope is catching on,"she said in a statement.