HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Out of nine public figures and possible political candidates, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono garnered the highest favorable ratings in the Hawaii News Now/Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll.
In poll results released Sunday, 64 percent had a favorable opinion of Hirono, while only 25 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
Former Congressman Ed Case had a 59 percent favorable rating, followed by current Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, with 57 percent.
Mufi Hannemann had a favorable rating among 52 percent of voters, compared with 42 percent who had an unfavorable opinion of the former Honolulu mayor.
Among Republicans, former Gov. Linda Lingle had a 49 percent favorable rating, but 47 percent of respondents viewed her unfavorably. Former Congressman Charles Djou also had a 49 percent favorable rating, compared with 36 percent unfavorable.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz had only a 43 percent favorable rating, but 12 percent of respondents said they had never heard of him, while 24 percent said they didn't know enough about him.
Lingle -- who is seen as a possible GOP senate candidate -- may suffer because her low profile since leaving Washington Place.
"When you step out of the public limelight, and before that you were not viewed favorably, it's pretty hard to change anyone's opinion, and that's why Lingle is at less than 50 percent," said Star-Advertiser political columnist Richard Borreca.
In response to the poll, Hirono released a statement, which read, "It's very humbling to see this strong support for my work on behalf of the people of Hawaii. I take their opinions seriously and have been fighting as hard as ever to create well-paying jobs, hold big oil companies accountable for rising gas prices, protect Medicare from Republican attempts to dismantle it, and promote Hawaii's renewable energy economy. I appreciate the positive response to my leadership, but I don't take it for granted and will never stop fighting for a stronger Hawaii."
Hanabusa responded in a statement from her communications director, Ashley Nagaoka: "Congresswoman Hanabusa continues to work hard for the people of Hawaii in Washington, D.C., as she prepares for the 2012 election."
Democrats for the Senate
In a hypothetical Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, 26 percent of 403 registered voters would vote for Case. Twenty-five percent would vote for Hirono, followed by Hannemann with 17 percent, Hanabusa with 15 percent, and Schatz with six percent. Eleven percent didn't know or refused to provide an answer. This poll sample had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
Hannemann saw something positive in the numbers.
"As I am the only one in the poll who's neither a declared candidate nor currently an elected official, I am pleased that in the last two polls, I placed second and third," he said. "This shows we're very much in the game, should I decide to run for the senate."
Case is the only declared candidate so far.
"The most positive encouragement for me and my candidacy is that folks are certainly ready and able to accept my candidacy this time, and of course, there's no incumbent," said Case, who staged an unsuccessful bid against Akaka in 2006.
"he hasn't had any real big push yet," said Borreca. "There's not a lot of television on, he had a very brief ad at the beginning. Since then he hasn't had very much. there's not much real work going on at the surface."
Democrats vs. Lingle
The Hawaii Poll also focused on Lingle, as a probable GOP senate candidate, against various Democrats. Voters were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today.
- Against Hirono, Lingle is 22 percentage points behind, with Hirono garnering 57 percent compared to Lingle's 35 percent.
- Case also out polled Lingle, 54 to 36 percent.
- Hanabusa would lead Lingle, 54 to 39 percent.
- Hannemann also led Lingle, 51 to 36 percent.
- In a hypothetical race against Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, its a statistical dead heat, with 47 percent of respondents choosing Schatz, compared to 43 percent for Lingle.
Lingle was attending the Hawaii Republican Party Convention on Kauai, and was unavailable for comment Sunday.
The telephone poll of 614 registered Hawaii voters was conducted by Ward Research May 4-10, with a margin of error of four percentage points.
Also in the Hawaii Poll: Half of island voters approve of governor in first six months of term
Monday: >> On Hawaii News Now, a look at how Oahu voters feel about Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle after his first months in office. >> In the Star-Advertiser, what island residents think of Honolulu rail transit now that work has started