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Aloha again, Mr. President, how things have changed

By Richard Borreca


It must feel good to be president of the United States and be in Honolulu. Welcome home, Mr. President -- we got your back.

Hawaii still leads the nation in President Obama approval ratings. Although even here in the Aloha State, the Obama brand is losing a bit of its luster.

The most recent Hawaii public survey, the Oct. 20 Public Policy Poll, put Obama at 56 percent approval. Back in March, the Hawaii-born president was at 64 percent.

Unfortunately for Obama, the rest of the country is not so supportive. The Real Clear Politics website averages all the major national polls. It reports Obama with a 44.9 percent approval rating, with 73.3 percent saying that the country is on the wrong track.

Fellow Punahou School grad Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, recalls attending a recent Punahou gathering, and getting the feeling that the Obama swoon is over.

"Even in this state, there has been some disillusionment," Kalapa said.

"Yes, we are all in love with him because he is a homegrown kid, but there was a real division of the house," Kalapa says.

At this gathering, Kalapa said, the baby-boomer generation, those closer to retirement, were not supportive of Obama. Those who have seen the crashing stock market slice into their retirement plans are now not looking with favor at the president.

"They don't like his handling of the economy. Those who are young, those who just graduated a few years back, they are still gaga over his call for change, but all the hopes and dreams of his forward-looking administration have been dashed," Kalapa said.

Because Hawaii comes to the party with a large percentage of Democrats, it is not likely the state would be anything but Obama country -- but the president is not wearing well.

"It is hard to do anything without the support of Congress," says Neal Milner, University of Hawaii emeritus professor of political science.

Milner notes that a recent Gallup Poll had Hawaii as the only state giving Obama a more than 50 percent approval rating.

Still, Milner thinks that "there is no reason to assume that Hawaii would not continue to provide a strong cushion of support for Obama."

But things have changed. When Obama left Punahou in 1979, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put Hawaii's unemployment rate at 5.7 percent. And, Hawaii was a more unionized state back then. A full 26 percent of the jobs in Hawaii had union protection.

Today the union job rate, according to the federal statistics at the Labor Bureau, is 23 percent. And today the unemployment rate is 6.4 percent.

Also what has grown in Hawaii is the population. When Obama left Honolulu to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles, Hawaii's population was 964,600. Today Obama is visiting a state with a population of 1.3 million.

The Labor Bureau also calculates the real number of unemployed. Back in 1979, there were 24,644 without jobs; today, that number is 40,230.

That doesn't mean there are 15,586 no votes for Obama. But the dignity of a steady, good job goes a long way toward making a happy voter.

Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at rborreca@staradvertiser.com.

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Kapakahi wrote:
Not sure interviewing rightwing activist Lowell Kalapa about the views of Punahou graduates would qualify as a representative sampling of Hawaii public opinion. But maybe that's just me.
on November 13,2011 | 02:05AM
Anonymous wrote:
Lowell Kalapa a right wing activist? He's a tax policy guy, I guess good financial analysis makes you a right winger, what does that make a left winger, financial mismanagement?
on November 13,2011 | 10:14AM
ehrhornp wrote:
Well he did say the following: At this gathering, Kalapa said, the baby-boomer generation, those closer to retirement, were not supportive of Obama. Those who have seen the crashing stock market slice into their retirement plans are now not looking with favor at the president. Now who was responsible for the crashing of the stock market? Was not Obama's fault as the stock market was in free fall when he entered office. Today the stock market is around 12000 which is a lot better than being under 7000. If anyone should be criticized it should be republicans who inherited a relatively strong economy in 2001 and promptly screwed it up by taking us from a surplus federal budget to deficit spending and running 2 wars off budget. I cannot remember a time in my life time when an 8 year president had a lower stock price at the end of his term than at the beginning. I am sure Bin Laden is laughing in his grave today as he has succeeded in converting the United states from a free country to a broke severely restricted country. Thanks a lot republicans.
on November 14,2011 | 06:06AM
Anonymous wrote:
Neal Milner says "it's hard to do anything when you don't have the support of Congress". Obama owned the entire legislature and executive branches of government for 2 years. What did he do. Pass a universal health care scheme that will bankrupt the country. Cash for clunkers. Bail out the banks and big corporations. Bye Bye Barry
on November 13,2011 | 05:04AM
ehrhornp wrote:
While Obama has made mistakes, this country was already bankrupted thanks to the idiocy of the republicans. Taking a balanced federal budget and unbalancing it by giving huge tax cuts to the rich was just insane. Only a fool would believe the republicans who said that such tax cuts would stimulate the economy and keep the budget balanced. Well republicans, where is the stimulus that you promised? Liars liars pants on fire.... As far as his health care program, you are right in that it should have been a lot more. We need to have universal health care like other advanced countries have instead of being slaves to the medical industry. buy buy Berry? lol, it might be a problem if republicans had a decent candidate but they have the biggest bunch of clowns ever assembled. That plus the republican record will keep Obama in for another 4 years.
on November 14,2011 | 06:14AM
starripoff wrote:
ehrhornp - Didn't you get the memo? Even Barry stopped blaming the GOP. Maybe (???) he finally realizes the deep kim chee he's in and more importantly that HE CREATED.
on December 30,2013 | 07:13PM
Lanikaula wrote:
Right Wing, Left Wing, Conservative Wing...ALL this hype & build-up for the APEC and did anyone notice that in the protocols NOONE...NOONE!! Not even our governor, nor Congress person present at his landing or at ANY of the conferences did President Obama get LIE'd!!! Where's all the ALOHA and the braggers who are PREMIERING, SHOWCASING Hawaii to the world??!! "Planning, without culture & tradition yields only half-truths about the native people.!" Culture...peoples culture HAS TO play an important role. In past major conferences like these, Delegates usually wore a symbol from their HOST culture. Here in the land of ALOHA there was a major 'lock-down'! It's world famous icon, Waikiki has been turned into a WAR zone like atmosphere with the National Guard directing traffic at intersections!!!!! THIS IS HAWAII!!?? Or the ILLUSION of it! TSSAHH APEC, you did nothing to premier Hawaii as it should be portrayed!!!
on November 13,2011 | 06:45AM
Anonymous wrote:
sorry LEI'd!
on November 13,2011 | 06:46AM
allie wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 13,2011 | 07:15AM
waikiicapt wrote:
How's that hope and change workin' for ya?
on November 13,2011 | 09:03AM
ehrhornp wrote:
Not bad, my stock portfolio is almost back to where it was before the crash. Thanks a lot republicans for your stupid economic policies which crashed the economy.
on November 14,2011 | 06:16AM
drosen wrote:
Lowell Kalapa's opinion is not indicative of anything in Hawaii - except his own opinion.
on November 13,2011 | 08:07AM
kiheilocal wrote:
Don't know what Punahou gathering Lowell was at, but everytime I gather together with fellow Punahou alums here on Maui,we all seem to appreciate the job Obama is doing and fully support him.
on November 13,2011 | 09:19AM
Anonymous wrote:
What a shame Punahou doesn't teach economics.
on November 13,2011 | 10:16AM
starripoff wrote:
on December 30,2013 | 07:14PM
DonGa-me wrote:
This is not American Idol where voters can text message votes and approval of popularity. I believe there has been changes and I do not expect miracles overnight. For our children's future we need to sacrifice now.
on November 13,2011 | 09:54AM
aiea7 wrote:
What kalapa is not a political analyst? He should stick to commentary about taxes, even then his ideas are not stellar. He sounds like a repub. By the way, what is the relavency of quoting statistics dating back to 1979 and comparing them to 2011? President Obama became president in 2008. Most reasonable people in Hawaii like Obama the man, although they may disagree with some of this proposals; it is a tough time, there are no magic answers to problems and having a political House of Reps does not help the President to get things done right. Can't blame him for the bailouts, as if bush were still presidnent, there would be many bailouts. But they did keep some of the largest corporations from failling; their failure would have been more devastating if the bailouts had not been made. Bust did not want to bail out lehman brothers, and look what happened - recession. If the rest of the big corporations who were in trouble were not helped, there would have been a stock market crash similar to the depression in the late 20's and 30's.
on November 13,2011 | 12:10PM
allie wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 14,2011 | 06:28AM
Kapakahi wrote:
Actually, Lowell Kalapa is NOT a "tax expert." He has minimal training in economics, nor is he an accountant. His ideas are essentially conservative talking points, unmoored by any real understanding of either economics or tax policy. And, they are sometimes laughably wrong. Why the media and politicians continue to treat his opinions as "expert" defies logic.
on December 2,2011 | 06:33PM
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