HI-01: Narrow Djou Lead, But Could Be Anyone’s Race

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (4/11-14, likely voters, no trendlines):

Charles Djou (R): 32

Ed Case (D): 29

Colleen Hanabusa (D): 28

Other: 4

Undecided: 7

(MoE: ±5%)

Thanks to Hawaii’s weird special election configuration where all parties are piled into one pool together, Republican Charles Djou seems to be in position to win by virtue of getting a small plurality in a three-way race rather than the usual majority. R2K’s poll closely tracks the leaked DCCC poll of the race (where it was 32 Djou, 32 Case, 27 Hanabusa), although it appears that the difficulties of polling in Hawaii hamstrung R2K, who say they had trouble getting a representative sample and had to settle for a higher margin of error than usual.

The race in HI-01 is starting to remind me of one of those Quentin Tarantino prisoner’s-dilemma standoffs where you have three guys standing in a triangle, all pointing guns at each other’s heads. In a perfect world, one Dem would back down, because the national party can’t afford the symbolism of a loss here (even though it’s a seat that they’d be likely to recover in November in a normal head-to-head race — simply because the media would be incapable of explaining the nuances of the loss beyond “OMG! Dems in disarray lose Barack Obama’s home district!”).

But neither Case nor Hanabusa is likely to get out of the special, because doing so would give the other the benefit of incumbency going into the regularly-scheduled September primary, when presumably they would want to face off against each other. Hanabusa, probably because of her role in the state legislature, has lower approvals than Case (37/31, vs. Case’s 47/25, which may explain why the DCCC wants her to be the one who walks the plank), but with her backing by the state’s unions and political machine, she probably feels she has little reason to get out… and maybe with her backers’ GOTV operations, she still has a good shot in a low-turnout affair.

UPDATE: Nice catch from Reid Wilson, illuminating what Markos was alluding to his in his own writeup: the sample’s racial composition is way off, as the sample is 33% white and 38% Asian, despite the district actually being 53% Asian and 19% white.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Fundraising numbers from all three are available now. Despite Case’s moneybags reputation, he’s being outpaced by both Djou and Hanabusa. Djou has the most cash on hand ($492K, compared with $329K for Hanabusa and $214K for Case), while Hanabusa has raised the most over the course of the cycle, but also spent the most (she’s raised $712K, compared with $692K for Djou and $349K for Case).

38 thoughts on “HI-01: Narrow Djou Lead, But Could Be Anyone’s Race”

  1. I don’t think the DCCC should get involved in this primary without clear evidence that Hannabusa couldn’t win, which is lacking here. But I sure don’t imagine Case or the DCCC backing down.  

  2. It does seem that Research 2000 statistically adjusted their data to account for their inability to poll an appropriate racial balance.  Without that statistical readjustment, Djou would win in a landslide, receiving 47% of the white vote.  He’s also competitive among the asian voters; it could well be that Hanabusa actually helps keep the race competitive.

  3. This poll has 39%D, 30%R, and 31%I.  Is this breakdown realistic?  I know that the Republicans are energized, but I’m surprised that there is only a 9% difference between the Dems and the GOP.

  4. Mainland pollsters are notorious for not knowing how to poll Hawaii, as the weird oversampling of whites and undersampling of Asians suggests. Still, it probably does come down to turnout. If we assume that most whites go for Djou and the rest go for Case, that really means the Asian majority has to a.) show up, and b.) pretty much all vote for Hanabusa. If enough Asians defect to Case or Djou, that candidate wins. If Asians stay united for Hanabusa, it could still be Hanabusa by a nose.

    Either way, two Dems and one Repub makes SSP go crazy.

    Two Dems and one Repub makes SSP go crazy.

    Two Dems and one Repub makes SSP go crazy.

    Two Dems and one Repub makes SSP go crazy.


  5. if this bit from the CQ link is true

    First of all, many survey participants – particularly Japanese-Americans – will say they are undecided when they are questioned about their voting preferences.

    “And that’s not true,” said Dan Boylan, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii. “They just won’t tell a person with a disembodied voice on the phone how they’re voting.”

    Japanese-American women, especially, tend to be underrepresented in polling because they decline to answer – a circumstance that Boylan argued could give Hanabusa an edge in the race.

    “Let’s say there is 15 to 20 [percent] undecided, I would cut that in half in favor of Hanabusa,” Boylan said.

  6. …in this eleciton, which I hope benefits the Democrats, but we really have no idea.

    I checked the Hawaii State Office of Elections fact sheet for this election, and it’s clear all registered voters will automatically receive mail-in ballots.  Even further, in-person early voting will be available May 10-20 in Honolulu, albeit at only one location.

    If everyone is getting an unsolicited ballot, and presuming voters are not required to provide postage (i.e., postage paid by addressee) in mailing back their completed ballots, this means probably a lot more people will vote in this special than would show up to vote in a “normal” special election with in-person voting on election day the dominant form of voting.

  7. The primary is all the way in September, and arent these late primary states forced by federal law to move their dates up?  And if so, why hasnt Hawaii complied yet?

    There is plenty of time for the primary and I really do think Hannabusa can win A LOT of goodwill by getting out, endorsing Case while at the same time saying, ‘but Im running against you in the primary.  We just simply can’t lose this seat.’  And I bet she could get the DCCC to not get involved in the primary if she gets out of the special, they’d owe her that because she’d save them a ton of money by having to spend heavily on this race and not having to defend Case later in the primary anyway if he wins against Hannabusa.

    Plus, Hannabusa will still have the endorsement of EVERY institution in Hawaii for the primary Im sure.  Anyone know Hawaii, can she pull it out easily enough in a primary?  Am I being plausible?  (I can certainly see the DCCC making that deal, saves them a ton of money and no chance of losing the seat.)  I, like many here, am just absolutely not okay with the return of Case and him being a Senator.  No no no, Hawaii can do just entirely better.

    Just another case of states needing election reform, because this is crap.

  8. All people know the rules of the election. All people know what must do for democrats have not troubles in this race. I think the rules of the election are not the problem now. This is not a problem of rules I think this is a problem of persons what evaluate not right the risk of play wrong.

    I think the second of the democrats in the polls must leave his/her risky bid before the election. And in all the polls C Hanabusa is the second democrat after E Case. Is not right continues a bid with this risk.

    The results of R2000 poll are the worst results possible for C Hanabusa, making her responsible if democrats lose the race. I think if C Hanabusa continues now and these are the results of the election, she can burn her political career.

    This poll means this fight is very dangerous for Hanabusa, for Case and for all the democrats. Without the support of Case voters Hanabusa never will win no-one high level race. Without the support of Hanabusa voters, Case never will win no-one high level race. This fight must stop before dammage democratic candidates and put in risk the seat. All candidates know what must do for that. I wish bold again:

    The problem are not the rules. All people know the rules and what must do before the election.

    This race is Safe Democratic (if all play right).

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