March 2020: Hawai’i County Poll

Voters on Hawai’i Island have been polled on various topics by the Hawai’i Connection. The Hawai’i Connection recognizes that polling gives an overall outlook of what the socio-political environment looks like through a sample of answers from the community. Multiple polls will be taken in the course of the 2020 election and we will continue to monitor how politics, policies, and issues affect voters. 

Question 1) Which political party do you tend to vote for?

45% – Democratic Party

28.5% – Undecided / Choose not to say

12.5% – Aloha A’ina Party 

7.5% – Republican Party

5% – Independent Party

1.5% – Other

The Democratic Party has dominated elections throughout the State of Hawai’i in recent history – but there are some exceptions. That was not the case at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom when the Big Five, Five of the largest names in business in Hawai’i, helped control the Hawaiian territorial government. The Democratic Party of Hawaii went on to side with labor, supporting workers that were employed under the Big Five. 

In modern Republican history, the last time a Republican President had a majority was in 1984 during Ronald Reagan’s re-election. The last Republican Governor, Linda Lingle, was elected in 2002, defeating a popular upcoming star in the Democratic Party, Mazie Hirono. Lingle would go on to get re-elected in the 2006 election, defeating a financially weak Democratic challenger, Randy Iwase. In the State’s 61-year existence, State House Republicans controlled an average of three seats, with the Lingle years capturing five seats. In 2016, the Democratic Party State Senate captured all twenty-five of its seats for the first time.

The Aloha A’ina party, established in 1997, has been given tremendous traction in 2019, due to the Thirty Meter Telescope, Sherwood Forest, and Kahuku Windmills protest. Their main focus will be to organize as an official political party by obtaining membership and gaining the 757 signatures from registered voters to organize.

The Independent Party has not seen a true candidate come through the ranks since former Mayor Mufi Hanneaman broke Democratic Party ranks to run as an Independent for the office of Governor in 2014. 

Other political parties include: Libertarian, Constitutional, and Green Party. These parties have not had an issue with membership, but have had an issue getting candidates elected, almost non-existent.

Question 2) When you vote, do you look at the following:?

65% – Candidates policy or political view matches your own

12.5% – A candidates party affiliation

10.5% – If a candidate was born in Hawai’i

6% – By what others say about the candidate

5% – If a candidate has a degree

1% – By how many signs a candidate has

0% – By a candidates name

In this question we tried to gain an understanding of how people voted and what would be the deciding factor for an individual to vote for a specific person. This question gives us a different perspective on how the first question interacts with the second. The 28.5% undecided on their party are voters that would be the wildcard in an election – especially if the Democratic Party received 45% in this poll and when asked “when you vote, do you look at the following:,” 12.5% stated a candidates party affiliation. This poll also gave a clear cut perspective that abandoned a practice that your name is what got you elected in Hawai’i. Out of the people surveyed, none voted for a candidate based on their name. 

Question 3) What is the top issue facing Hawai’i County?

18% – Homeless/Mental Illness

15% – High Cost of Living

15% – Roads/Infrastructure 

11% – Thirty Meter Telescope

9% – Agriculture

9% – Mass Transit

6% – Pesticides and Herbicide Usage

5% – Tourism

5% – All cesspool changing to septic

4% – Setback from Sea-level rise

3% – Other

We’ll discuss the top four issues. Homeless/mental illness has been an issue for the last several years. The County of Hawai’i is pushing the Kukuiola emergency homeless shelter as a result of the issue. Governor David Ige created an Emergency Proclamation, across the state, in regard to the homeless that would ease the permitting process, among other things. There is a need to implement plans to assist those on the street, or to strengthen laws.

High cost of living: basically, minimum wage in Hawai’i is $11.50 per/hrs, in Hawai’i County, in order to make a decent living in a two-bedroom apartment the wage would need to be $22.50 per/hrs. The first issue compliments the second one fairly well: a high cost of living with high taxes, an unfair business environment with regulations, and housing markets holding as second homes or short-term rental units, and the Jones Act have continued to raise the price of paradise.

Roads/infrastructure: the County of Hawai’i raised the General Excise Tax for transportation by a quarter percent in 2018, and raised it by another quarter in January 2020. The County of Hawai’i has a $500 million operating budget. Millions come from the Transient Accommodations Tax which is the ‘Hotel Tax’. Many speculate that the counties do not receive their fair share in the hotel tax, which would help fund capital improvement projects.

Thirty Meter Telescope: there are two issues that came out of 2019: Homelessness; and the activist on Mauna Kea protesting/protecting the Thirty Meter Telescope by way of obstructing and blocking the access road to the summit. At this time,  there is little headway, which brings us to the 4th question.

Question 4) Would you vote for a candidate even though he/she would be supportive of Thirty MeterTelescope?

41.5% – Yes

24.4% – No

34.1% – Undecided

We tried to gain an understanding of how the Thirty Meter Telescope issue will play a role in the 2020 election. The “Yes” answer saw 41.5%, however, as the elections get closer it will be interesting to see the 34.1% of undecided voters affect the election. 

Question 5) If we had a mock election right now, who would you likely vote for Mayor in 2020?

43.9% – Undecided 

17.1% – Grayden Ha’i-Kelly

12.2% – Mitch Roth

9.8% – Ikaika Marzo (Undeclared)

7.3% – Other

3.9% – Bob Fitzgerald

2.9% – Tante Urban

2.9% – Harry Kim (Undeclared)

0% – Sadegh Abolghassem

0% – Mike Ruggles

0% – Wendell Ka’ehu’ae’a

There are a lot of unknowns in the highest office of the County, with 43.9% of voters undecided. Grayden Ha’i-Kelly, at the time of conducting this poll, had hit 17.1%, however, the presumed front runner of the race is Mitch Roth. A new addition to the field is Ikaika Marzo, who had built Pu’u Honua O Puna, a hub for information and resources for those affected by the lava flow in 2018. There are a lot of unknown’s in this race thus far. 

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