Sabato: Hawaii Now Toss-Up, Republicans Have Chance

Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 02:25 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Incumbent Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie "will be lucky to survive the Democratic primary" against his challenger, state Sen. David Ige, says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics and author of the Sabato's Crystal Ball website and newsletter.

Should Abercrombie pull out a primary win, the "personally unpopular" incumbent governor will likely falter in the general election against his 2010 opponent, Republican former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, Sabato and co-writers Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley said in a Crystal Ball analysis.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic pollster, found that Ige had a commanding lead of 49 percent to 39 percent over Abercrombie, "though any survey in the notoriously difficult-to-poll Aloha State must be treated with caution," according to Crystal Ball.

The public polls might not be that far off, Crystal Ball says, and "Abercrombie is in real trouble heading into the Aug. 9 primary," leading the website to shift the state race from "leans Democratic" to "toss-up."

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a former Democrat who became an independent this year, has also joined the race, further complicating Abercrombie's chances of re-election.

Abercrombie's popularity also took a hit when he appointed Democrat Brian Schatz to take the late Daniel Inouye's U.S. Senate seat after the veteran politician died in December 2012 — and "against the deathbed wishes of the Hawaii legend," says Crystal Ball.

But the popularity of Schatz, who is running for Senate seat this year, doesn't seem to be suffering.

The Democratic primary for Hawaii's senator may end up being decided on the basis of ethnicity and age, with Schatz in a runoff against Inouye's Japanese-American protege, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who Inouye wanted to succeed him.

While Schatz is popular, Hanabusa, at 62, has the support of Irene Hirano Inouye, the senator's widow, with Hanabusa representing Inouye's Japanese-American base, and Schatz representing white progressives in a state that has far more voters with an Asian heritage than non-Asians.

Crystal Ball favors Schatz in the upcoming primary race, noting the incumbent senator "also lacks Abercrombie's grating style."


Other Sabato's Crystal Ball Stories:

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