HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new poll, released just more than a week before the September 18 primary election, shows Neil Abercrombie leading Mufi Hannemann by 17% in the Democratic race for governor.
The poll was paid for by civilbeat.com, a local online news site.
It was an automated telephone poll that questioned 1,226 voters (not just democrats) who said they are likely to participate in the primary.
When asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 48% said Abercrombie, 31% supported Hannemann, 12% said they would vote for another candidate, and 9% were undecided.
"What we found was Neil Abercrombie has built a big edge over former mayor Hannemann and that it's a very significant margin and it's going to be very difficult for Hannemann to win," said Civil Beat editor John Temple.
The Abercrombie campaign responded to the poll with the following statement. "We're not taking anything for granted, and everyone's participation and vote matters. We will continue to work hard until the last vote is cast on September 18."
Hannemann's camp questioned the validity of the poll.
"As for the Civil Beat poll, it is an automated voice recording that asks people to push buttons on their telephone. There's no screening for registered voters or people who are likely to pull a democratic ballot. We don't know who likely responded. We don't know who hung up," said Hannemann campaign spokesperson Carolyn Tanaka.
Civil beat hired a company called Merriman River Group to conduct the poll. Merriman executive director Matt Fitch told Hawaii News Now his poll is not only credible, but its margin of error is just 2.75%.
"It was incredibly accurate the first time it was used in Hawaii in May for the special congressional election," Fitch said.
On May 10 Civil Beat released the results of a poll it hired Merriman to do on the race to fill the congressional seat Abercrombie vacated when he left Washington D.C. to run for governor. That poll showed republican Charles Djou with 39.5% of the vote. Twelve days later Djou won the election garnering 39.4% of votes.
"It's definitely credible. I believe it is more credible than traditional polling methods," Fitch said.
On August 22 a poll paid for by Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star Advertiser gave Abercrombie a lead of 5% (49% to 44%).
Hawaii News Now political analyst Dan Boylan said just because Abercrombie is ahead in the polls now does not guarantee he will win the democratic primary.
"In 1986 Cec Heftel, who was a congressman, two weeks before the election was 18 points - 18 points - ahead of John Waihee. John Waihee, if you may remember, became governor. And Cec Heftel is not in those paintings on the wall up in the governor's office," Boylan said.