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Approval poll places duo in a tie

By B.J. Reyes

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:39 a.m. HST, Oct 27, 2010

Gubernatorial candidates James "Duke" Aiona and Neil Abercrombie continue to be rated favorably by a majority of voters, according to a new poll that also shows their lesser-known running mates trailing slightly behind.

MORE INSIDE

» Djou-Hanabusa race a statistical tie.
» Voters remain unhappy with Lingle.

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» Neil Abercrombie holds an eight-point lead in the race for governor.

Tomorrow

» Should the elected state Board of Education be changed to a board appointed by the governor?
» Which gubernatorial candidate would be the most effective?

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» Do you support or oppose the civil-unions bill?

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When asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the candidate, 61 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Abercrombie, the Democratic former congressman, compared with 60 percent for Aiona, the Republican lieutenant governor, according to new poll numbers released today.

Democratic running mate Brian Schatz was rated as favorable by 51 percent, while his GOP counterpart, Lynn Finnegan, scored 36 percent. It was the first such rating done on Finnegan, a state legislator who was unknown by 25 percent of respondents.

The telephone poll of 608 very likely voters statewide was conducted by Ward Research of Honolulu for the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now. It was taken from Oct. 12 through Tuesday and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The Hawaii Poll also showed Abercrombie-Schatz with a lead in the overall race, 51 percent to 43 percent over Aiona-Finnegan.

"The public's highly favorable opinion of Neil Abercrombie is based on a long record of public service at all levels of government," campaign spokeswoman Laurie Au said by e-mail. "The people of Hawaii know Neil is ready to be governor and that he has the experience and character to move us beyond the frustration of the last eight years."

Through a spokesman, Aiona said his own internal polling showed a dead heat, but that his supporters would regardless work nonstop through Election Day.

"Every day, voters are learning more about our opponent and whether or not they want to bring the divisive political culture of Washington to Hawaii or ensure balanced, honest and fiscally responsible leadership," Aiona said.

The favorable-ratings numbers track the head-to-head poll, showing Aiona drawing his strongest support from whites and Hawaiians and younger voters under 55. Abercrombie is stronger on the neighbor islands and among Japanese and Filipinos.

Voters who said they usually vote independent showed a strong preference for Aiona, with 74 percent of them holding a favorable opinion of the GOP lieutenant governor, compared with 48 percent for Abercrombie.

Schatz was unknown by 18 percent of voters, an improvement from an August poll that rated him unknown by 30 percent.

In a smaller sample of 399 very likely voters in the 1st Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Djou was viewed as favorable by 55 percent, compared with 50 percent for Colleen Hanabusa, the Democratic state Senate president. The margin of error for that sample was 4.9 percentage points.

As in the governor's race, the poll showed independents favoring the Republican.

Djou was seen as favorable by 68 percent of those who said they usually vote independent, compared with 29 percent for Hanabusa.

The independent and moderate vote could represent the Democratic voters who backed Ed Case in the special election in May. Djou won with 40 percent of the vote after Democrats failed to unify behind a single candidate.

Case dropped out a week later, leaving Democrats confident of being able to regain the seat in November.

But independents and moderates nationwide appear to be leaning Republican, said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii political scientist.

"Assuming there are some of those in the Case constituency, they're the ones that you would suspect would go to Djou," he said.

James Daniels, an independent who lives near Kapahulu, said he felt Djou is an "up-and-coming" fresh face. But he said his decision to vote for Djou is based more on his opposition to Hanabusa.

"The other side is so pro-union," said Daniels, a business owner. "I think she's gotten more money from the unions than anybody else does. It's just a step back in time."

Leslie Lyum, a Democrat and community college teacher, said she supports Hanabusa because "she's more in touch with the majority of people in Hawaii."

"As far as health care and stimulus money and all that, I think it has helped and it will help us," she added. "I just think Colleen represents my values more than Charles does."

Djou has consistently campaigned against the federal stimulus programs, arguing that all unspent money should be returned to the government.

Hanabusa says the stimulus funds helped the state balance its budget and kept unemployment from skyrocketing above current levels.

In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who held a sizable lead heading into the final stretch of the campaign, was seen as favorable by 67 percent of respondents, compared with just 8 percent for GOP challenger John Willoughby. The sample of 192 very likely voters had a margin of error of 7.1 percentage points.






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