In a year when voter discontent nationwide appears ready to toss out incumbents — mostly Democrats — U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is in position to retain his seat representing one of the nation’s bluest states.
According to a new Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now poll, Djou holds a slight 3-point edge over Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, but it is within the margin of error — a statistical tie.
In a telephone poll of 399 very likely voters in the 1st Congressional District, representing urban Honolulu, Djou was favored by 48 percent, compared with 45 percent for Hanabusa.
Six percent said they were undecided or refused to answer; 1 percent said they would choose someone else.
The poll was conducted by Ward Research Inc. Oct. 12 to last Tuesday and has a 4.9 percent-point margin of error.
In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono was easily ahead of GOP challenger John Willoughby, a commercial pilot and retired naval aviator who is supported by local tea party groups and received a telephone endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Hirono was favored by 77 percent to 16 percent for Willoughby, who also has received a letter of support from former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
"There’s no indication that that’s even close," said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii political scientist.
The telephone survey covered 192 very likely voters and had a margin of error of 7.1 percentage points.
"I’m happy that the people of Hawaii continue to have confidence in me, and I’m going to keep working hard to earn that," Hirono said in a statement.
Willoughby said his campaign would work hard throughout the final days and "hope for the best on Election Day."
"Just from my own information and from the people I speak with, I don’t see that sort of ratio," he added. "We’re just going to keep plugging away and see what we can get, but I don’t think it’s going to be that drastic."
In the 1st District, both candidates won over their expected party constituencies, but the Hawaii Poll showed Djou having broader appeal among independents, winning that group 64 percent to 26 percent.
Overall, the poll mirrors other recent polls that show the race going back and forth but still remaining a dead heat statistically.
"We’ve said all along that we knew this was going to be a tough fight, and every poll that we’ve seen — including this one — bears that out," Djou campaign spokesman Daniel Son said.
"I think that we’ve always felt that our message would appeal across party lines," he added. "It’s not a partisan message as much as it is just a message of change."
Hanabusa, through a spokesman, said the statistical tie was "not a bad position for us," adding that voter turnout would be a key. The campaign was reaching out to Case voters.
"We’re getting a lot more support than the poll indicates," she said.