HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou has taken a strong early lead in the race for Honolulu mayor, according to a new Hawaii News Now/Star-Advertiser Hawaii poll.
Some 39 percent of likely voters said they would back Djou, if the election were held today. By comparison, 30 percent said they would vote for Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Former Mayor Peter Carlisle trailed the pack, with just 15 percent of likely voters saying they would vote for him. The rest didn't know or said they supported another candidate.
Djou was elated with the poll results.
"The fact that we have such an exceptionally strong campaign from the get go having spent no money bodes very well for us," he said. "But I am not taking anything for granted."
He added the strong numbers are a "reflection not of me, but my campaign team's hard work and more importantly about the community really saying that they want change."
Caldwell, the incumbent, said he wasn't particularly surprised with the poll.
He added, "But I wish I was leading."
The poll comes with less than a month to go before primary election day on Aug. 13.
Ward Research conducted the survey of 401 likely primary election voters from late June to early July. It has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
Experts say the poll results are certainly favorable for Djou, who opted to run for the mayor's seat in a last-minute decision.
"It's tremendous," said HNN political analyst Colin Moore. "It means that donors are willing to give you money because they think your campaign is serious, you get more attention from the press you get more volunteers for your campaign."
The poll could have the opposite effect for Carlisle, but there's a silver lining in the survey results for the former mayor and prosecutor: His favorability ratings are high.
Some 62 percent of likely voters had a favorable opinion of Djou, an extremely high rating. Carlisle wasn't that far behind, with 56 percent giving him favorable marks.
Carlisle says his high favorability "gives me the opportunity to be able to argue my case better in terms of getting the message out to them. That yes I am in the race, and yes I am the person who is going to do the most for rail and the most for homelessness."
"He is still reasonably well liked by the public," Moore said. "For an incumbent mayor his favorables are reasonably high."
On the favorability ratings, Caldwell said that he's had "huge, controversial issues" to tackle "and I have not run from them."
Experts say with three major candidates divvying up voters, it is virtually certain that this mayor's race won't in the primary
A mayoral candidate would need to earn 50 percent plus one vote in the primary to win outright. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November.