This weekend’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii poll brought a raft of surprising findings. Appointed Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz is trailing Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in their closely-watched primary matchup, and Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who appointed Schatz to the Senate and was succeeded in the House by Hanabusa, is losing to his likely GOP rival.
Just because the results are surprising doesn’t mean this poll isn’t accurate. But it does serve as a reminder that pollsters face unique challenges in Hawaii.
Polling in Hawaii is notoriously tricky. The Aloha State’s complex ethnic melting pot makes finding the right sample composition difficult — especially important when a Caucasian candidate like Schatz or Abercrombie is facing an American of Japanese ancestry (AJA) candidate like Hanabusa or Ige. Ward Research, the Star-Advertiser‘s pollster, missed the Democratic primary in the state’s 2nd congressional district last cycle by a wide margin.
Schatz’s campaign and other Democrats disputed the poll, which showed Hanabusa ahead, 48 percent to 40 percent. For the primary matchups, Democrats aligned with Schatz’s campaign pointed out that 82 percent of all the registered voters surveyed participated in that question, even though far fewer than 82 percent of eligible registered voters are likely to cast ballots in the primary.
Even though Schatz is the incumbent, including unlikely voters would benefit Hanabusa, they argued. As a twice-elected representative for half the state’s residents, Hanabusa has higher name identification than Schatz. As a result, lower-information voters — whom the Schatz camp says are unlikely to vote but are being surveyed in the Star-Advertiser poll — would be more likely to support Hanabusa.
The Schatz campaign did provide some support for their theory: They released a month-old internal poll showing Schatz with a slim, four-point lead over Hanabusa. But, like the Star-Advertiser poll, they found Hanabusa with more name-ID, and Schatz did markedly better among voters who were familiar with both candidates.
In the gubernatorial race, Democrats feel that the poll, which shows Abercrombie trailing former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, the man he clobbered four years ago, by eight points, is equally flawed. But even internal polling is no easy task in Hawaii: In addition to the mix of ethnicities that make up the electorate, the state and other outside groups have done little work to maintain records of voters there that can be mined for information about vote frequency and other characteristics that help pollsters determine whom to call.
“The voter file is terrible. It’s in terrible shape,” said one Democratic pollster with experience in Hawaii. “Nobody’s really spent the money to make it good. So that’s a problem.”
With the prospect of tight Senate and gubernatorial races, Hawaii remains a state to watch in 2014. But there’s reason to view the poll results we see there with a critical eye, and surveys are likely to be infrequent enough to make poll averages less useful.
What We're Following See More »
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”
"Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican party will coordinate more closely going forward, with the GOP's top communicator and chief strategist Sean Spicer increasingly working out of Trump campaign headquarters, the campaign confirmed Sunday."
In a statement released Friday morning, the Trump campaign announced that Paul Manafort has resigned as campaign chairman. The move comes after fresh questions had been raised about Manafort's work in Russia and Ukraine, and Trump brought in Stephen Bannon "as a de facto demotion for Manafort."