HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With just three weeks to go until the general election, former television executive Rick Blangiardi has taken a significant lead in the two-man race to become Honolulu’s next mayor, according to a Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll ― a lead some political experts say is probably insurmountable.
“This is exactly what you want to see going into the election,” said Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore.
The results of the poll, which were released Tuesday, showed support among likely voters who were surveyed last week overwhelmingly in Blangiardi’s favor.
48% of those polled said they were likely to support Blangiardi in the election, 20 percentage points more than the 28% who said they were likely to vote for Honolulu businessman Keith Amemiya.
19% of those polled said they still weren’t sure which candidate they would vote for, and 5% said they wouldn’t vote for either candidate. The margin of error in the poll was 3.7%.
“It’s a very stable, very large lead for Blangiardi,” said Moore, who also serves as the director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Unless there has been a catastrophic polling error, it looks pretty clear that Blangiardi will be the next mayor.”
Moore says it’s impressive that Blangiardi appears to have won over many of the voters some believed would support Amemiya, including strong support amongst virtually every ethnic group.
And while Blangiardi has a clear lead over Amemiya among voters who identify as Republicans and Independents, he’s also in a dead heat among those who identify as Democrats ― a base Amemiya was counting on.
“A big part of his campaign was to claim that he was a Democrat,” said Moore. “He identified himself as a Democrat and even tried to paint Rick Blangiardi as Donald Trump, and that didn’t seem to work at all.”
Amemiya impressed many by overcoming longtime local politico Colleen Hanabusa to come in second in the August primary, and he both outraised and outspent Blangiardi in the months since the election.
But polling showed that support for Blangiardi strengthened in spite of Amemiya’s momentum, particularly among those who voted for other candidates in the primary. 43% of the voters who picked Hanabusa said they were planning to vote for Blangiardi, compared to 34% for Amemiya.
And 44% of those who supported Kym Marcos Pine in the primary said they were voting for Blangiardi in the general election, compared to just 30% for Amemiya ― despite the fact that Pine eventually endorsed Amemiya, not Blangiardi, in the race.
Political experts say timing is likely the primary reason why there isn’t really any room for the Amemiya campaign to make up the deficit.
That’s because with mail-in ballots already in voters hands, and growing concern nationwide about getting votes in early, its unlikely any late push or unexpected controversy will substantially change the outcome.