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Isle vote still likely Obama's, but fever has cooled

By Derrick DePledge


Tanya Bruno was a first-time delegate to the state Democratic convention in May 2008, part of a wave of young people driven to party activism by the energy around Barack Obama.

She said at the time that she had been interested in politics but was never motivated by a candidate to get involved.

"Obama was able to get me over that hurdle," she said at the convention. "But now that I'm here, I think I'll stay."

Three years later, Bruno is still a believer in the Hawaii-born president's policies. Her party activism, though, ended with Obama's historic election.

"I would say I still support him and I'm still behind him, but it feels really different than it did back then," said Bruno, a fundraiser for a nonprofit interest group. She lives in Makiki. "Because back then it was all so new and everyone was so enthusiastic, and the last couple of years have been pretty brutal."

Obama's job approval rating nationally is at 41 percent, according to Gallup, near the lowest since he took office, yet in Hawaii he remains a favored son. The president's job approval in the islands was 56 percent through the first six months of the year, Gallup found, a dip from the 66 percent rating he averaged in 2010.

A poll taken in May for the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now put his job approval mark at 74 percent.

Hawaii Democrats say they believe Obama is still extremely popular, a source of local pride, and predict he will easily capture the state's four electoral votes next year. Democrats hold a 24-percentage-point advantage over Republicans in the islands, according to Gallup, so Obama's fortunes would have to turn apocalyptic for the president to lose here.

But veteran Democrats privately acknowledge that the intensity behind Obama has faded. The new, mostly younger Democrats who drove record turnout to the party's presidential caucuses and filled delegate slots at the state convention in 2008 did not breathe the kind of fresh life into the party that some thought was possible.

Even at the apex of Obama­mania, veteran Demo­crats estimated that only 10 percent to 20 percent of the newcomers would stay involved with the party after the election. Or, as one longtime volunteer told another wryly at the time: "These people won't be around to make chicken hekka for the fundraisers."

While it is natural for interest in politics to wane in the years between presidential election campaigns, many local Democrats portrayed Obama in far loftier terms than they used to describe candidates such as former Vice President Al Gore or U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. He was going to be a transformational figure, many Democrats said in 2008, an authentic messenger for change, the bridge to a new kind of politics.

Political strategists are interested in the depth of Obama's support in Hawaii because of the potential influence the president could have on other campaigns next year, particularly the U.S. Senate race.

Obama won Hawaii with 71.5 percent of the vote in 2008, a staggering 45-percentage-point gap over U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the largest victory margin of any state (and second to the District of Columbia). If the president were to match that performance next year it would be difficult for former Gov. Linda Lingle, who is considering a Republican campaign for U.S. Senate, to prevail.

Political strategists calculate that if the president gets somewhere around 60 percent to 65 percent of the island vote, the math becomes complicated for Lingle, who must draw from moderate Democrats and independents to win. If moderate Democrats and independents are part of another Obama landslide, they would likely have little incentive to split their votes and choose Lingle over U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono or former congressman Ed Case, the Democratic contenders.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who helped lead Obama's Hawaii campaign in 2008, believes the president remains popular because of his policies, his local ties and the fact that Hawaii is a traditionally Democratic state. He also thinks island voters are less inclined than voters on the mainland to reflexively want to throw their leaders out when times turn bad.

Every governor since John A. Burns has been elected to more than one term. No Hawaii member of Congress who has served a full term has ever been voted out of office.

"I think there is a reservoir of patience among local people for our leaders," Schatz said.

But many Obama loyalists have gone from speaking about the gleaming potential of hope and change to the practical realities of governing a divided nation.

Ria Baldevia, the Hawaii coordinator for Obama for America, the president's re-election campaign, was a volunteer in 2008. She said Obama has lived up to her expectations.

"It's a hard journey. It's been a hard journey," she said. "But we are confident with what he's done."

Jacce Mikulanec, who works on the lieutenant governor's Fair Share Initiative to attract federal dollars to Hawaii, campaigned as a volunteer for Obama before the Iowa caucuses. He said he is personally encouraged about the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military, the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the federal economic stimulus package that brought more than $1 billion to Hawaii. He also said the federal health care reform law, while not perfect, was progress after decades of inaction.

"He's done a lot. I think a lot of it gets overshadowed by the economy, but we live in a world economy," he said. "He doesn't get to just wave a wand and everything goes away."

Chuck Freedman, a veteran Democratic strategist who starts Monday as a special assistant to Schatz, was among the most eloquent in describing Obama's potential in 2008. He saw Obama as a transformational figure who could help restore the United States' reputation in foreign affairs and salve some of the raw partisanship in Washington, D.C.

He still believes Obama has those skills, but he is disappointed by what he sees as Republican intransigence in Congress.

"The level of wedge-issue politics presented by the Republican Congress, to me, has really been a huge blockade for there being any kind of consensus," he said.

Bruno, the first-time delegate to the state Democratic convention in 2008, has since shifted her volunteer activism to good-government issues and to interest groups such as Common Cause Hawaii rather than the Democratic Party.

"The gridlock that sort of happened, mostly out of Washington, that's just been really disappointing and frustrating," she said. "And it's so petty."

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honokai wrote:
@ Tanya Bruno --- "back then it was all so new and everyone was so enthusiastic, and the last couple of years have been pretty brutal." --- yeh, he talked a good talk didn't he? --- still can give a good speech, but nobody cares to listen anymore --- meanwhile no many getting too excited by the alternatives on the Republican stage --- thinks look a bit sucky, don't they?
on October 2,2011 | 02:24AM
braddah wrote:
I was thinking the same thing as you honokai....plus, his "friend" Neil isn't doing a good job either! He's lucky the republican candidates are only so so!
on October 2,2011 | 06:33AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Agree with honokai and braddah. Get out and vote! For who?
on October 2,2011 | 06:48AM
wiliki wrote:
Disagree with all of the above. When will Republicans learn that talking trash and avoiding the issues is a poor strategy to convince voters to vote for another Republican disaster?
on October 2,2011 | 08:12AM
honokai wrote:
yes, wiliki ... but you just talked trash while avoiding the issues too ... see the problem? (ah, never mind)
on October 2,2011 | 10:01AM
mustangguru wrote:
3 years and I;m not impressed
on October 2,2011 | 07:41AM
HD36 wrote:
Hawaii will vote for Obummer because its a State which would economically fail without big government, military expeditures, welfare, unions, and entitlements.
on October 2,2011 | 10:48AM
kailua000 wrote:
I love when democrates talk about the gridlock, how republicans are blocking measures. What goes around comes around - for both parties. Doesnt matter who is in charge, the other party blocks. Its not because it is Obama, or because they are democrats - its just politics. period. no matter who is in charge, its all the same - disappointing and frustrating for the people of America.
on October 2,2011 | 02:31AM
honokai wrote:
meanwhile, life has not been frustrating at all for wall street or the corporate military sector --- because for those guys, the whole political party thing is the grand distraction that allows their lobbyists to go in and divide up the spoils --- in the end, partisan politics has allowed main street america to be played like a bunch of stooges
on October 2,2011 | 02:44AM
sammmo wrote:
"THE 112th CONGRESS is the WORST CONGRESS EVER!" A group of people who have been in Congress too long and do not like the fact that there is finally a man in the White House who is very intelligent with a great education. , and the fact that he is also black....
on October 2,2011 | 04:44AM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 2,2011 | 08:39AM
LemonySnickets wrote:
You must have gone to a public high school and could not attend any private school and not because you didn't have money to attend. You must be pale compared to President Obama. Obviously, I'm not mistaken.
on October 2,2011 | 12:05PM
soundofreason wrote:
HALF black. So let's no lose the emphasis that he's half white too.
on October 2,2011 | 08:53AM
soundofreason wrote:
which makes him just another guy - just as damaging as Carter -ALSO just another guy.
on October 2,2011 | 08:54AM
LemonySnickets wrote:
And Tiger Woods is also Asian.
on October 2,2011 | 12:12PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
What an intelligent response.
on October 2,2011 | 04:15PM
what wrote:
I'm still upset that Obama, shortly after becoming President, passed a $700 Billion dollar stimulus bill that did nothing to improve the economy. Our children and children's children and maybe even their children will be paying for that epic turd!
on October 2,2011 | 04:47AM
mona2011 wrote:
bush didn't leave him much to work on, and the employment was going down at that time..is he suppose to sit back and watch.. i d think wouldve been much worse if he didn't do it..
on October 2,2011 | 05:13AM
wiliki wrote:
That's what most of the economists say. They say that the recovery is weak because the Bush recession was so deep and Republicans stood in the way of a decent stimulus to pass Congress. Larry Summers said that very early.
on October 2,2011 | 08:08AM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 2,2011 | 08:41AM
LemonySnickets wrote:
Actually it is You and those who voted for him.
on October 2,2011 | 12:06PM
lee1957 wrote:
Democrats had the first two years unimpeded by Republican objections. Any failure to "get what he wanted" was just that, failure. The only other explanation is incompetence.
on October 2,2011 | 09:28AM
LemonySnickets wrote:
You figure to correct years of mistakes in 1 term. What is your excuse for incompetence? No backers or likes from others, I can clearly see.
on October 2,2011 | 12:10PM
Ronin006 wrote:
No, wiliki. That is what economists on Obama's team say. Why shouldn't they? Their jobs depend on them saying it. Larry Summers is one of them.
on October 2,2011 | 05:27PM
Wazdat wrote:
Obama could be doing more BUT he inherited a HUGE MESS left by bush. Its going to take some time, not really sure if any president can change things since America is CONTROLLED by OIL and BIG BUSINESS.
on October 2,2011 | 05:33AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
Oil and big business are Obama's main source of campaign finance. He got more money from Wall Street in 2008 than McCain. BP gave more to Obama than any other senator when Obama was in the Senate. Goldman Sachs was his biggest campaign contributor. How much did you contribute? Do you think he's going to do what you want or what big business and the oil companies want?
on October 2,2011 | 08:35AM
NITRO08 wrote:
Hello He wanted to tax the oil company's but Repulicans don't want too. where have you been under a rock!
on October 2,2011 | 01:18PM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 2,2011 | 08:49AM
LemonySnickets wrote:
Why don't you teach him? As if a 2 cent comment will be sound advice to him.
on October 2,2011 | 12:11PM
BarkingEagle wrote:
Wingnuts love to call companies with 500 employees small businesses. That's absurd. The Hawaii State definition is 50 and even that's too high. To be accurate, small businesses should be under 20 employees. With regard to your main point, small businesses do not generate 75% of all jobs. Small businesses create a lot of jobs because every restaurant start-up is a small business job creator. But small businesses also destroy jobs because they fail more often than any other category of business. The businesses that create jobs are not small businesses but growing business, which may start small but when they really start generating jobs they have left the small business stage (think Microsoft or any large tech company). By the way Mr. Small Business Expert, for the past 10 years I have owned and operated a small business. Do you?
on October 2,2011 | 12:34PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Thanks calling out the shibai talking point.
on October 2,2011 | 12:43PM
NITRO08 wrote:
Then if this is true then why can't the rich pay the same percentage of tax as the middle class???????
on October 2,2011 | 01:22PM
frontman wrote:
on October 2,2011 | 05:45AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Read Confidence Men, and then you will understand how naive we were, as was our candidate. Now the question in Nov. of 2012 will be, are you better off than you were four years ago?
on October 2,2011 | 06:15AM
loio wrote:
Obama SUCKS, he's an economic illiterate with no understanding of what built America and made it the most prosperous society in the history of the World. Hard core Dems and takers will come up with all kinds of excuses and blame games, but the reality is that the guy was unqualified, is unqualified, and he and his party spell the ruination of America. 1/20/13 can't come soon enough.
on October 2,2011 | 06:16AM
wiliki wrote:
On the contrary, it's the Republicans who caused this recession and have stood in the way of adequate stimulation.
on October 2,2011 | 08:10AM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Actually BOTH DemocRATS and Republicans caused this recession. OBummer made it much worse with TARP2, QE2, and QE3. He didn't stimulate the economy. Instead he increased taxes and made new taxes and gave billions to big banks and Wall Street stimulating THEIR pocketbooks at our expense!!
on October 2,2011 | 08:31AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Wiliki, do you think Viagra in the stimulus bill might have helped stimulated the economy? Nothing else seems to have worked.
on October 2,2011 | 05:43PM
RosieN wrote:
Our President Obama did what he said he would do. I still support him. He and the congress needs our help in 2012. We need to vote for only the ones who are going to work for us, not only for the rich on Wall Street. We have to take back the government, vote Democrat (the working class party). Remember he took over the country in the worst time.
on October 2,2011 | 06:26AM
soundofreason wrote:
The "working class" shouldn't be making the decisions. Go ask all the WalMart employees if they'd like to now earn $20 per hour - then kiss WalMart goodbye.
on October 2,2011 | 08:51AM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Local people are finally realizing that he is a Hawaiian Wanna Be. OBummer is partly to blame for the devaluation of the American dollar. Now we women work the same amount of hours for less money and the money we do make we hand much of it to the U.S. government. Thus poverty and hungry of the PEOPLE. Nowadays with OBummer as Executive Branch of the U.S. government we have a record high of 45,800,000 Americans on food stamps which is NOT sustAINAble. Eventually you run out of other people's money. Now with the "American Jobs Act" which is actually "Another New Tax Act" taxes will be raised which will further render WOMEN especially helpless against the devalueD American dollar. For women especially do us a favor and DO NOT re-elect OBummer the con artist. Choose someone else.
on October 2,2011 | 07:00AM
stanislous wrote:
Even I'm starting to get tired of this "blame Bush" talk.
on October 2,2011 | 07:29AM
mustangguru wrote:
Who creates jobs first, a private company or the government? How can Obama say he is creating jobs when the job creation comes mostly from private industry.
on October 2,2011 | 07:37AM
hybrid1 wrote:
So what is the $2+ trillion the private industry got from the tax cuts doing to create jobs? Zero, nada! .....The economy needs the middle and lower class people to create the demand for goods/services which makes 70 percent (fact) of the U.S. economy....Thus the Obama jobs plan is to build new and upgrade the nation's infrastructure by the middle and lower income workers who will then spend their money on goods and services. Only then will private money from the $2+ Trillioon be invested to produce the goods and services demanded by the working class. Remember that the rich are too few to create any large demand for goods and services.
on October 2,2011 | 08:35AM
mustangguru wrote:
Stop blaming Bush already. It's been 3 years, I think you own this economy.
on October 2,2011 | 07:38AM
NITRO08 wrote:
And he made it so bad that you need more than 3 years to fix it. Bush had 8 years to break it!!
on October 2,2011 | 01:25PM
mustangguru wrote:
It's been 3 years already and I'm not impressed
on October 2,2011 | 07:40AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
This article completely ignored the main source of disaffection with Obama within the Democratic Party. The progressive wing ("the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party") is extremely disappointed in Obama's disdain for the promises he made. He campaigned on closing Gitmo and restoring civil liberties taken away by the Patriot Act. He did neither. He has accelerated the destruction of public schools by doubling down on No Child Left Behind and expressed his hostility toward teachers unions and worked to deprofessionalize teaching as a profession to speed up corporate takeover of public schools. He has gone further in undermining civil liberties through executive fiat than Bush. He campaigned on a public option in health care, but never supported it once in office and prevented single payer from even being put on the table. Worst of all, Obama has put the investment bankers and Wall Street swindlers in charge of the U.S. economy with his cabinet appointments. While Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power — in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions — is destroying financial security for all but the wealthiest, Obama's Justice Dept. has done absolutely nothing. That's why a lot of Democrats are tired of Obama.
on October 2,2011 | 07:50AM
wiliki wrote:
Baloney. He's made some progress on all the issues that he campaigned on. Republicans in Congress have stood in the way of further progress. That's why Congress has much less approval ratings than does Obama.
on October 2,2011 | 08:15AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
Name a single thing he's done in which there was some discernable corporate interest involved that he challenged. I dare you. He's also been a failure on environmental issues. He just prevented the EPA from enacted tougher clean air standards to suck up to utilities and coal companies. He approved Shell drilling in arctic waters. His Katrina cleanup and restoration efforts have been a joke. NOAA and the Coast Guard have swept much of oil spill impact under the rug. No criminal penalties for BP, Halliburton, and others involved. Lives were lost. Industries and businesses destroyed. The perpertrators walked. Obama's DOJ did nothing, as usual. My point wasn't just that he's been a disaster for every consumer and taxpayer and progressive cause. The bigger point was that his failure to champion his constituencies is why a lot of Democrats no longer trust the guy.
on October 2,2011 | 08:32AM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 2,2011 | 10:12AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
She's part of the problem, not the solution.
on October 2,2011 | 12:36PM
MasaKimo wrote:
Voters, please try to remember... It's not not an adolescent popularity contest. It's a battle between left and right and the future of the country. Think rationally before you vote.
on October 2,2011 | 08:13AM
wiliki wrote:
Obama and Congress should get a lot of credit for passing a Health Care Act. With this bill our future health care costs will NOT run away and threaten our economy and about 40 million currently under- or uninsured will finally get coverage. He has fulfilled a commitment to the people that FDR himself could not get passed. After 70 years, this Health Care Act is a great milestone.
on October 2,2011 | 08:22AM
LanaUlulani wrote:
No OBummer"Care" is a NEW tax. If people are unable to afford paying for it then the IRS can and WILL slap a lien on their home rendering them PRISONERS of their own home. That is what happens when they cannot pay this tax. Worse... it is a La'au Killer and changeD the paradigm from la'au/plant based to American medicine which is DRUG BASED.
on October 2,2011 | 08:33AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
It's a new tax? So what? My daughter is now covered under my policy until she's 26 since she graduated college. Once all the benefits kick in, it will be too popular to ever repeal--just like social security. It's not the tax; it's the benefit you receive. The problem is it didn't go far enough. It should have been a Medicare for everyone plan. We don't need insurance companies making medical decisions, instead of our doctors. Obama failed to get rid of the insurance companies, which add a lot of the cost and he made it illegal for the government to bargain with pharmaceutical companies (a big gift in exchange for campaign contributions). These two things made the plan a lot more expensive than necessary. Still, it's better than what we had.
on October 2,2011 | 09:01AM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 2,2011 | 10:52AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
Just another ponzi scheme? National health insurance, with or without a health insurance industry participation, works well in every other industrialized country. U.S. privatized health system is exponentially more expensive than any other country and the quality of service is worse. Our infant mortality rate is 34th, below Croatia and Cuba. That's what the private sector controlled marketplace is delivering to American consumers of health care services.
on October 2,2011 | 12:17PM
soundofreason wrote:
"Isle vote still likely Obama's, but fever has cooled" Newsflash. If the economy still isn't bad enough for you after looking at the fact that he's not been able to change a thing - your bad judgment is not due to you having a fever. It's due to outright mental illness.
on October 2,2011 | 08:26AM
cojef wrote:
Bias thoughts expressed eloquently. Blaming a predessor for ills inherited is not selling. With both Congressional Houses controlled by the Democrats for 2 years, about the only major Legislation accomplished by Congress is the ill conceived Obamacare Bill which is currently being adjudicated to determine whether it is constitutional right to force an individual to buy insurance. This piece of legislation aptly describes Obama's progressive agenda. Government controll of each individual's rights, where the government dictates every aspects of your life. Which is diametrically opposed to rights granted under the Constitution. We don't need this radical progressive idealogy. Entitlements enslave the masses as experienced by the Russian people. It appeals to "stone age" culture mentalities, where one loafs around and live on the largess provided by the Central Government. Phew did say that?
on October 2,2011 | 09:33AM
AniMatsuri wrote:
How is this news? Let alone something you post on the front page? So Obama will win Hawaii a few precentage points lower than last election, big deal. Anyone living here could tell you that for free and with less words than this article. It's to be expected considering nothing he's done has made things better and not everyone here in Hawaii are voting sheep.
on October 2,2011 | 10:19AM
shaftalley wrote:
many things bother me about obama,his administrtion and both parties of congress.and most have been touched on today.but one thing that is really worrisome is that our civil liberties have taken a beating.i mean real bad shillacking.more so under obama than even under the bush/chaney regime.illegal domestic surveillance and wire-tapping on americans.neighbors encouraged by law enforcement agencies such as FBI to snitch on other neighbors for "suspicious activities".Like what???It's up to us to make what connections??our privacy and our right to privacy is being dissed by this regime.Obama and the obamaphiles want to "protect national security" at the expense of our constitution.and the democrats/republicans in congress seem to be going along with this nonsense.we have to be insistent and loudly protest to our congressmen/women.put the pressure on them or more liberty and freedom will vanish.and are the public schools teaching kids about individual liberties and prventing gov't. abuse on its' citizens?
on October 2,2011 | 10:47AM
tiki886 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 2,2011 | 11:20AM
LemonySnickets wrote:
What part of Wahiawa do you live?
on October 2,2011 | 12:15PM
shaftalley wrote:
obama had an american citizen killed in yemen the other day.he was whacked without due process or any oversight.obama has absolutely no evidence that AnWar al-Awaki,the so called terrorist ,had anything to do with 9/11.that he planned,authorized,commited,or in anyway assist in 9/11.or harbored the ones who did.no proof.so obama had no authoriy to take him out.now,someone that murders my family is protected by the 5th Amendment to our constitution and is entitled to due p-rocess.
on October 2,2011 | 12:59PM
jkjones wrote:
"yes we can" in 2008...has turned to "quit complaing and whining" in 2011....2012? "no, we didnt".
on October 2,2011 | 01:09PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
Like the Californians say, 'Four more years!" Still waiting for the double dip recession to hit and see what all the Union bosses do.
on October 2,2011 | 04:25PM
shaftalley wrote:
this is third attempt to reply.oh well ,life ain't fair
on October 2,2011 | 02:32PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Ria Baldevia, the Hawaii coordinator for Obama for America, the president's re-election campaign, was a volunteer in 2008. She said Obama has lived up to her expectations. Well, yes, I gues he would live up to anyone with low expectations.
on October 2,2011 | 05:22PM
Ronin006 wrote:
It is easy to understand why Hawaii voters still are likely to vote for Obama, despite his dismal performance. Hawaii, perhaps more than any other state, has built up a large population of people who are almost totally dependent on the government, state and federal, for their every need. It is a well known fact that such people vote Democrat en masse.
on October 2,2011 | 05:36PM
Kawipoo wrote:
It's appropriate you have an article about Obama right under getting rid of the mold. My answer is to vote the mold out.
on October 2,2011 | 07:39PM
AtomicMonkey wrote:
If people would just shut up and go along with Democrats everything would be fine...that's all I'm hearing from them, and I don't think many people believe them anymore.
on October 2,2011 | 09:38PM
honokai wrote:
yep, obstructionism --- the party of no ----those are tired talking points --- they are not going to sweep the states with that
on October 2,2011 | 09:51PM
sloturle wrote:
RON PAUL 2012!
on October 2,2011 | 10:23PM
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