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Thursday, August 28, 2014         

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Women skirt politics, poll says

Most voting-age Hawaii females tell a survey they are dissatisfied with local lawmakers

By Dan Nakaso

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Female voters -- and potential female voters -- feel disconnected from Hawaii politicians, according to a poll released yesterday.

FEMALE VOTER ATTITUDES

A poll by QMark Research for the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee found:
» 86 percent believe some or most island candidates are self-serving and have motives other than representing their constituents and communities.
» 63 percent would vote for a female candidate over an equally qualified male candidate.
» 77 percent identify themselves as pro-choice and consider abortion an important issue, but more than half would support a candidate with a different stance if they agreed on other issues.
The poll by QMark Research for the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee found that 63 percent of Hawaii women across the islands would vote for a female candidate over an equally qualified male candidate.

A quarter of the women had tried to contact local politicians, and 26 percent received no response. An additional 36 percent got a response but felt that the politician did not take their issue seriously or that nothing happened to resolve the issue.

More than three-fourths of island women had never reached out to a local politician, but believed that their concerns might not be taken seriously. An additional 19 percent said a local politician "definitely" would not care about their concerns.

QMark Research surveyed 671 Hawaii women 18 to 44 years old from July 20 to Aug. 21. The poll has a margin of error of 3.78 percentage points.

"The women of Hawaii are a major force, a significant force, and we want our elected officials to hear them," said Jadine Nielsen, chairwoman of the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee. "We want them to listen to the concerns of the women, and we want our political leaders to respond to them."

The telephone and Internet survey included women of all political parties.

It found that an overwhelming majority of women -- 86 percent -- believe that some or most island candidates are self-serving and have motives other than representing their constituents and communities.

Only 27 percent of women were interested in the political process and the issues that face Hawaii and the rest of the country.

The rest -- 72 percent -- were more concerned with everyday issues that affect island families, such as lowering the cost of living and providing children with quality education.

Of the single mothers who were surveyed, 36 percent are not registered to vote.

"If you don't vote, you don't get to grumble," said Dona Hamabata of Kalihi, who was shopping at Ward Warehouse yesterday.

"And we love to grumble," said Hamabata's friend Marvi Shibuya of Aiea.

Hamabata implored Hawaii women to register and then vote in the upcoming general election that will decide Hawaii's next governor, among other races.

"In some countries, women aren't even allowed to vote," Hamabata said. "You have to make choices if you care about what's going on in the world."

The survey also found that an overwhelming 77 percent of women identified themselves as pro-choice and consider abortion an important issue.

But more than half of the women could support a candidate with a different stance on abortion if they agreed with the candidate on other important issues.

The survey's results resonate with Linda Ichiyama, a 24-year-old candidate for the District 31 House seat representing Moanalua, Salt Lake and Aliamanu.

"It reinforces what I've been hearing," Ichiyama said.

She graduated in May with a law degree from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law but postponed taking the bar exam to run for political office.

Ichiyama has been endorsed by the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee, which works to support pro-choice, Democratic women.

While walking the district she hopes to represent, Ichiyama found that the biggest political issue confronting women voters is not abortion, but apathy.

"They simply feel that their vote doesn't matter," Ichiyama said. "That's why I'm doing personal outreach."

Getting more Hawaii women to vote falls into the goals of the Patsy T. Mink PAC, said Nielsen, the chairwoman.

"When women vote, women (who are candidates) win," Nielsen said. "So it's real important for us to encourage more women to vote."






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