The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Can Either Democrat Catch Up in Hawaii? The Math Is Tough


One of my readers in Hawaii is plugged into the local political scene, and he sent two updates recently on the special election:

Convinced that [Colleen] Hanabusa cannot win the special, the [Sen. Daniel] Inouye/Democratic Machine has decided to retreat to fight another day – BUT, they don’t want the Dems to unite behind [Ed] Case. If Case doesn’t win the special, then he’ll likely face  Hanabusa in the Democratic primary in August.

Hanabusa and the labor unions have pretty much gone off the air in terms of advertising.

Inouye negotiated the DCCC withdrawal, in exchange for him sending money their way in the fall. Taking the DCCC money away now is really about making Case spend most of his cash now trying to catch Djou, thereby draining his funds. Hanabusa is going to be well-funded by the Inouye machine and the labor unions to come back again in August, and this time it’ll be 1-on-1 with Case. She’ll have all the advantages and she’ll probably beat Case 55-45 or thereabouts, gaining herself a rematch against Djou in a 1-on-1 contest in Nov.

One person told me that the entire special election scenario was really cooked up to try and deplete the campaign accounts of Djou and Case both, thinking both would have trouble raising replacement funds in the short interval between the special and the general in Oct. The thinking was that if Hanabusa won the special that would be great. But if she didn’t, they want to handicap her two competitors in the fall by forcing them through two campaigns rather than just one. Hanabusa figures to have plenty of cash given her supporters, and the others really have to look to the mainland for money. That’s viewed negatively by Hawaii voters.

The special is pretty much in the bag for Djou now. Next will be the Aug. Dem primary.

And in the second update:

There are some numbers now on the poll you cited yesterday showing Djou with 39.5%, and both Case and Hanabusa roughly equal at 25.5% each. That was an automated telephone poll done by a Mass. Company, and involved a very large sample — 1081 likely voters — with a margin of error of only 3%.

And, the Honolulu Elections Office reports that nearly 30% of all mailed ballots have been returned already. Given the poll results, and the fact that only 70% of the mailed ballots remain outstanding – only a portion of which will actually be returned – I don’t think it is mathematically possible for either Case or Hanabusa to catch up. This is over.

I hope he’s right, but I wouldn’t count any chickens before they hatch. By my back-of-the-envelope math, if yesterday’s poll of returned ballots is accurate, then out of all possible ballots, Djou has 11.85 percent, and Case and Hanabusa each have 7.65 percent. That’s a nice lead, and yes, a lot of those outstanding ballots won’t be returned, but there’s still a chance that one of the two Democrats could enjoy a surge by the May 22 deadline.

Tags: Charles Djou , Colleen Hanabusa , Ed Case


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