HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With less than a week until Hawaii’s primary election, and with tens of thousands of residents having already mailed in their ballots, the Honolulu mayor’s race appears to have a leading candidate, according to a new Civil Beat-Hawaii News Now poll.
The data, pulled from a sample of 660 registered Oahu voters, shows former Hawaii News Now general manager Rick Blangiardi polling at the top of a crowded field of candidates, with 27% of would-be voters saying they planned to support him in the primary election.
That number is up roughly 6% since a Civil Beat-Hawaii News Now poll was released in June, when 21% of voters said they planned to vote for Blangiardi. The margin of error in this week’s poll was 3.8 percentage points.
HNN political analyst Colin Moore said in light of the coronavirus crisis, he thought voters would’ve preferred a more experienced candidate, but it appears that voters are looking for a fresh approach instead.
“I was surprised to see such a big gap and I think that’s what driving a lot of these results,” Moore said. “That’s why you see Rick Blangiardi so far ahead despite the fact that he’s never held elective office before.”
A virtual three-way tie for second place, according to the poll, features former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and local businessman Keith Amemiya both polling at 15% and Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine polling at 12%.
Mufi Hannemann, who was a late entry into the mayor’s race, was polling in fifth place, with just 8% of registered voters on Oahu saying they planned to support the former Honolulu mayor.
“The stark thing about Mufi Hannemann is his lack of support,” Moore said. “I think its pretty safe to say he is not going to be in the top two finishers on Saturday.”
In the primary election, it takes 50% of votes plus one to win outright. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters face-off in the general election.
When the first poll from Civil Beat and Hawaii News Now was released back in June, a significant percentage ― nearly one-third of those who were surveyed ― said they were still undecided about who to support. Another 12% said they didn’t plan to vote for any of the leading contenders for the seat.
But the percentage of those uncertain respondents in the latest poll, taken between July 27 and July 30, dropped dramatically, down to 13% ― with only 9% said they didn’t plan to vote for any of the five leading candidates.
The majority of those surveyed said they had a definite reason for supporting candidates like Blangiardi and Amemiya. When asked which was more important to them ― choosing a candidate with political leadership experience or one with a fresh approach to governing ― 55% said they preferred someone from outside politics who could provide the fresh approach.
And 44% of respondents said they wanted a candidate capable of keeping them safe, slightly more than those who wanted a candidate to focus on getting the economy moving again.