Don’t count Abercrombie out on GOP math
Local Republicans had better hope they’re better at campaigning than arithmetic heading into the general election for governor.
After Saturday’s primary, GOP chairman Jonah Ka‘auwai issued a statement belittling Neil Abercrombie’s landslide victory over Mufi Hannemann on the Democratic side.
Ka‘auwai said, “While a stunning percentage victory over Hannemann, Abercrombie garnered fewer votes than Randy Iwase did in 2006 Democrat Primary for governor. Democrats will now have to fight to unify after a bitter primary while Republicans are already unified and ready to hit the ground running in the weeks leading into the General Election.”
I’m not sure how he figures; Abercrombie got 142,234 votes against Hannemann compared to Iwase’s 119,058 votes against William Aila in 2006.
The only good news Republicans can take from the 2006 numbers is that Iwase barely improved his total in the general election to 121,717 votes, while Republican incumbent Gov. Linda Lingle swooped in to take virtually all of Aila’s votes, all of the 51,813 blank Democratic ballots and all of the 72,295 additional voters who came into the general to amass 215,313 in trouncing Iwase.
But this isn’t 2006, Aiona isn’t Lingle and Abercrombie isn’t Iwase.
In that race, Lingle was a popular incumbent with $6 million while Iwase was a relatively little-known late starter who put up a brave fight with pocket change. This time, Abercrombie has the better established track record against the untested Aiona, who has never won an election on his own, and the Democrats will be at no significant disadvantage in funding.
The real math facing the Republicans is daunting. Primary turnout this year was slightly more than 2006 at 292,838 compared to 276,693. If increased turnout in the general election turnout is also roughly comparable, it’ll be about 370,000 and Abercrombie or Aiona would need around 185,000 votes to win.
Assuming Abercrombie holds most of the 142,234 voters who favored him in the primary, a good bet, he’d need only about 43,000 more to win from the 90,535 Hannemann votes and 70,000+ additional voters expected to come into the general election, which would seem quite achievable if Democrats present the wall of unity they are promising.
The Republican challenge will be to throw up some kind of game changer and hope Abercrombie blunders after carefully avoiding doing so in the primary.
The likely GOP strategy will be to appeal to religious voters and harshly attack Abercrombie’s liberal congressional record in a way Hannemann couldn’t after his ill-advised “Compare and Decide” ad raised voter sensitivity to any kind of negative campaigning.
But the Republicans won’t be immune from attack themselves, with the Lingle administration’s eight-year record of gridlock with the Legislature and a dismal economy to answer for.