Hawaii’s special congressional election is producing a large voter turnout, which may be a good sign for Republican candidate Charles Djou.
Nearly 30 percent of voters in the state’s first district already have returned their ballots, Roll Call reports. That’s pretty quick turnaround given that the ballots were sent out only 10 days ago and aren’t due until May 22.
Special elections generally don’t draw a high turnout, but this race for the seat vacated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie’s resignation (to run for governor) has heated up.
That’s because two Democrats are running in the race against only one Republican. As there is no primary, whoever garners the most votes among the three wins.
And the two Democrats, former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, will likely split the vote among their party’s faithful, opening the door for a victory by Djou, a Honolulu City Councilman.
That’s not good news for Democrats in a district they historically have dominated.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has essentially given up on the race, announcing Monday it would no longer spend money trying to win there.
That has led political analyst Stuart Rothenberg to expect a Republican victory.
“With more polls confirming that two Democratic candidates are dividing the Democratic vote and the DCCC announcing that it will not invest any more resources into Hawaii's first district, we're moving the race to Lean Republican and expect Djou to win the special election later this month,” he wrote in The Rothenberg Political Report.
In a Honolulu Advertiser poll released Sunday, Djou led with 36 percent support, with Case at 28 percent and Hanabusa at 22 percent.
"It's a nightmare for Democrats," Dan Boylan, a University of Hawaii history professor, told The Washington Post.
The analyst Rothenberg, like others, expects Republicans to make major inroads in Congressional elections throughout the country this year.
“At this point, GOP gains of 25-30 seats seem likely, though considerably larger gains in excess of 40 seats certainly seem possible,” he wrote.
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