HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new Hawaii Poll shows 50 percent of registered voters approve of the job that Neil Abercrombie is doing as governor, much lower than his predecessor at the same point in office, and a reflection of the difficulty Abercrombie has had in pushing his agenda forward.
The poll of 614 registered voters, conducted by Ward Research for Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, showed that 36 percent disapproved of Abercrombie's job performance.
In the same poll, 55 percent had a favorable opinion of the governor, while 37 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The poll showed 13 percent didn't know or refused to answer the question.
"It's probably the highest mark he's going to get," said Star-Advertiser political columnist Richard Borreca. "It makes it very difficult for him to govern with a 'let's all do it this way because you all like the way I'm doing it already.'"
Abercrombie faced budget challenges, and several of his proposals, like taxing pensions, were unpopular and didn't make it in the legislature.
The 50 percent job approval rating is also low compared to his predecessor Linda Lingle, who had a 71 percent job approval rating at the same point in office.
Gov. Abercrombie declined direct comment on the poll numbers. His press secretary, Donalyn Dela Cruz, issued a statement, which said, "Governor Abercrombie's approach is to be honest and straightforward with the people of Hawaii so that, together, we can address our challenges head on. We believe support is growing in Hawaii to face up our problems and work together to fix our government, rebuild the economy and invest in the future."
Borreca said the poll indicates it may be a hard sell.
"In the future this is going to be a problem for him," he said. "It's very difficult for governors to rise above their initial ranking. Usually they go down."
The Hawaii Poll also showed a very strong approval rating in Hawaii for native son Barack Obama. Seventy-four percent approved of the job he's doing as president, while 23 percent disapproved.
The poll was conducted after the raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden, but Obama's approval numbers have always been high in Hawaii.
Even so, those numbers could have an impact on any Republican candidate who wants to succeed the retiring Daniel Akaka in the U.S. senate.
"The people are going to want to know, 'Do you support the Republican candidate for president? Or, like 74 percent of us, do you support Barack Obama?' And that's going to be a difficult question for Republican politicians to answer," Borreca said.
As for the legislature, it didn't do well in the Hawaii Poll. Forty-five percent of those polled disapproved of the job the legislature did this year, compared with only 38 percent who approved. It doesn't come as a surprise to Borreca.
"You might not like the entire institution and they're a bunch of moneys, but your guy is just wonderful," said Borreca. "And that's what usually happens in legislative races."
The poll was conducted among registered voters statewide by telephone May 4-10 by Ward Research. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.