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.

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27 Comments on “Don’t count Abercrombie out on GOP math”

  1. shaftalley Says:

    john carroll has asked for the help and support of the libertarian party of hawaii is my understanding.whether he supports or is sympathetic to tea party i don’t know.i hope not.

  2. shaftalley Says:

    anyway aiona/abercrombie is estblishment politics as usual.dave,thanks for a great election coverage.i am not a political “junkie” but appreciate your blogs.

  3. Jan Iwase Says:

    We knew, back in 2006, that Randy’s campaign would be an uphill battle. Overcoming the Governor’s huge warchest ($6 million plus) was a huge factor in the unwillingness of any other prominent Democrat to step forward to challenge her. Randy did everything he could to get his message out, but $450,00 can only go so far in a state-wide campaign. Remember that we had a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate as well as a Congressional race which featured a number of strong candidates. We think that Randy’s candidacy did make a difference because the history of the Democratic Party’s unity during General Elections forced the Governor to spend $6 million on her re-election at a time when her Party lost seats in the Legislature. When Randy and I reflect back on 2006, our thoughts focus on the friendships we made and the support of those who believed in Randy’s candidacy. No regrets, just positive memories.

  4. jayz43 Says:

    GOP chairman Jonah Ka‘auwai needs to take a month off, preferably off-island, and just stay out of this damned governor’s race. Voters don’t need a “fire and brimstone” rant nor Aiona wearing his religion on his sleeve.

    I am against hb444 and I will be voting for Duke Aiona and for Charles Djou. But I felt very uncomfortable reading Ka’auwai’s last religious rant.

  5. Michael Says:

    What is missing is the vote count from each Island per candidate. How many outer Islander voters voted for Hanneman or Abercrombie? How many for Aiona? ETC?

    The math cannot be done without all the numbers.
    Aiona to win will need all of Hannemans votes as you wrote, Dave. I am curious to see how many voted for Hanneman will cross over to Aiona? How many outer Island voters will cross over from Hanneman or even Abercrombie? Those numbers will say who will win in the end. Oahu again I say has only 1/4th the votes.

    I thought this URL may be a thought for the day.

  6. Michael Says:

    Sorry, just found this out when I started reading the rest of News online.

    Abercrombie takes all but 4 of 51 districts

    I must brush up on my fractions. How much of 51 districts will cross over? Have to say at least now Abercrombie can look at Hanneman eye to eye, since Neil grew a little taller after winning.

  7. WooWoo Says:

    So…. if Mufi had resigned 3 months earlier, would Caldwell be mayor today?

  8. David Shapiro Says:

    Michael, you can find the state’s election data here. You keep saying that Oahu has only 1/4 of the votes, but it’s actually around 80 percent of the statewide vote. You can do the exact math from the county-by-county breakdowns.

    They did another update with about 20,000 more votes counted after I wrote this post, so I adjusted my numbers slightly.

  9. Nikki Heat Says:

    Anyone for tea, Joe the Builder? Lt.Gov. Adrienne King? Maui Mayor Marc Hodges?

    Of course, I’m more concerned about the RIGHTeous Christians who crossed over to the Democratic ballot and handed Neil Abercrombie such a resounding victory over Mufi Hannemann to help out the GOP nominee (and Blake Oshiro against Gary Okino to help out the Christian in that race, and Brian Schatz to make sure no Righteous person was on the Democratic ticket). That’s just unacceptable.

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    Nikki, I agree there was no evidence of a game-changing vote by either Tea Party Republicans or conservative Christians, but the two groups are not necessarily the same and the Christians don’t necessarily have to “cross over” as many are Democrats (Dennis Arakaki, Gary Okino, Norman Sakamoto).

  11. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    SigOth – who holds a PhD in mathematics from the University of Virginia and is a CPA as well – and I with graduate degrees in Political Science plus our boots-on-the-ground experiences as Democratic Party officers, working on campaign committee teams & as community activists went through five O`ahu House & two Senate districts to analyze what is likely to happen over the next six weeks and on November 2nd.

    We’ve concluded that the religious conservatives in both Parties will shake up two of the House Districts – too soon to call as to who will win – and that a sort-of-traditional Republican will likely take the Senate race because of the weakness of the Democratic candidate plus that District has been in the Republican column for a long, long time. I doubt if that race will get nasty – it will just be seen as irrelevant so who cares.

    There’s also a significant desire on the part of a lot of people in that district – including people who normally vote for the Dees not to reduce the number of Senate Republicans down to one since there is not a chance for the Goppers to take any of the other seats except for the one held by the incumbant in Hawai`i Kai.

    Money, lots of money, and plenty of bodies for canvassing & sign-holding are needed in both of the House seats which are up for grabs since the two incumbants are just wrapping up their first terms. Whoever gets the most of both will probably win.

    The core GOP issue in both of these districts will be “family values.” The two Democrats will focus on economy, education, and energy/environment plus access to legislative leadership to bring home the oink-oink to their districts.

    Which side will win? At this point, I can only state my hope that both incumbants will be re-elected; however, we’ll be tracking these two races very, very closely.

  12. jaded Says:

    Neil’s internal poll numbers indicated a substantial lead over Mufi even before the “Compare & Decide” brouhaha, so the supposed cross-over by the conservative Christians (if it happened at all) probably wasn’t a significant factor in his victory.

    The interesting point is that Neil almost took Kauai — that shows strong AJA support for Neil despite Inouye’s meddling so a substantial amount of Mufi’s votes hopefully will go to Neil in the general.

  13. Michael Says:

    Thanks Dave.
    Yes, Star Bulletin also made it quite clear “4 out of 51 Districts”. According to this Hanneman won 4/51. The rest for Abercrombie. 47/51.

    I thought long and hard after you mentioned the percentage. To think that Hanneman got only 20% percent of all votes or close to 1/4th. Abercrombie won by 80% which is over 3/4ths.

    I actually did mean 1/4th for the 4 different Hawaii Counties. I did not really make the association between fractions and percentage till you said 80%.
    I guess I saw only one side and you made me look at both.

  14. ppcc Says:

    I doubt the election counts for the primary can provide any predictive value for the upcoming general election for either the Governors race or the Djou/Hanabusa House race. Reason? Many Republican and/or Aiona supporters pulled a Democratic ballot in the primary to vote for Abercrombie. In the general they will most likely vote for Aiona. How do I know? Cause I am one of many who feel Aiona is the lesser of all evils between Mufi and Neil and step one was to vote for Neil to take Mufi AND Caldwell out of the governor and mayor’s race respectively. Then in the general, most likely I will vote for Aiona.

    HOWEVER, I and many others would like Aiona to distance himself from the highly religious who are so wrapped with themselves and their interpretation of their religion. IF Aiona wants to be the next Governor he has publicly state AND BELIEVE that his religious views are PERSONAL and have no place in decision making in elected office of Governor of the State of Hawaii. Aiona needs to be reminded Lingle made a MISTAKE and might have cost her any chance of taking on of the Dan’s job when father times catches up with both of them by siding with the highly religious who were outright LIARS and CHEATERS in their obsessive quest to stop Civil unions in Hawaii. HI Business Round tables execs lied in writing a letter to Lingle stating their business organization were all against CU and the Arakaki’s tax exempt religious organization were fined over $22K for violating the rules of law in illegally spending money donated by people to lobby to kill the CU bill. Lingles arguments that CU is another name for marriage, that people jobs and lives would be negatively impacted and that kids education would be negatively impacted by passing the CU bill is pure B S. It is clear with Oshiro’s win over ?? that the highly religious that are so anti Civil union in Hawaii are in the MINORITY. Aiona and his advisers would be FOOLS to focus on them as they are NOT the votes the need for Aiona to become the next governor

    Aiona needs to hammer home fiscal responsibility and say he is pro rail HOWEVER if the cost of the rail will mean loss of gov’t services, laying off gov’t workers and putting the entire State of Hawaii into bankruptcy like California, then Aiona should say he would have serious doubts in continuing on with rail. People need to hold Carlisle accountable for his election promises of fiscal responsibility when by definition, Mufi’s $6++ BILLION rail is anything but fiscal responsibility.

    Aiona also needs to present to the public how Neil and Schatz are completely aligned and supportive of Obama, who is trying to socialize the US and decrease it strength as the most prosperous country in the world with his tax and spend policy. When Neil or Schatz call Aiona aligning himself with the “party of no”, Aiona should respond that he in fact says NO to Obama’s out of control tax and spend policies. It is clear that many rank and file City & State gov’t union employees disregarded their union leadership to vote for Mufi and instead voted for Neil, citing Mufi’s obsession with his pet rail project as NOT in their best interest. Aiona can tap into these pool of gov’t employees and state that yes he is for the rail concept but he has issues of Mufi’s rail project and has not give the public and HONEST assessment on the actual cost and negative effects that rail will have on Hawaii residents, visitors and the military

    Aiona also needs to present to the public that he wants to audit the DOE so that the majority of the money directly benefit the children and eliminate the waste, fraud and corruption that was alluded to by Marion Higa in her preliminary audit of the DOE. Aiona can mention that Abercrombie has no intention of auditing the DOE to focus public resources on the children, instead only adding MORE money to the DOE, which in the past has NOT improved public school education. Aiona can cite the DOE’s budget was at one time $2.4 BILLION per year and even that amount of money did NOT improve public school education.

    When Aiona debates Neil, Aiona needs to study in detail the rail project, DOE and Obama’s current UNPOPULAR out of control tax & spend policy so that when Neil and Schatz give the well worn Demo talking points in the debate, they respond quickly and intelligently with answer which makes sense to the Hawaii voting population who have issues with these 3 major topics.

    Finally some local news political “expert” stated that Schatz and Neil are Caucasions while Aiona is part Hawaii and Finnegan is Filipino which also has ramifications on some voters. There is NO NEED for Aiona or the Repub party to point this out as voters can see for themselves that Aiona and Finnegan are “dark skinned” while Neil and Schatz are “light skinned”. Aiona needs to focus on fiscal responsibility including the issue of Rail, the DOE and hammer the fact of Neil and Schatz’s intimate ties to Obama and his out of control tax and spend policies. I don’t see how the local or national Demo’s can attack Aiona or Finnegan as being anti-Obama because of his race given Aiona and Finnegan’s skin color is a whole lot closer than Neil and Schatz’s skin color!!

  15. ppcc Says:


    “Aiona can tap into these pool of gov’t employees and state that yes he is for the rail concept but he has issues of Mufi’s rail project and WILL GIVE THE public an HONEST assessment on the actual cost and negative effects that rail will have on Hawaii residents, visitors and the military”

  16. David Shapiro Says:

    WooWoo, no doubt Caldwell would have been tough if he’d had three more months to cement himself as the incumbent, but Jeremy Harris got it done in 1994 in the same amount of time as this year. Opinion was shifting in the final weeks of the mayor’s race, but the returns show the support Carlisle was losing going to Prevedouros more than Caldwell. NOTAs also increased among later voters.

    First printout (early absentee): Carlisle, 42.1%; Caldwell, 36.1%; Prevedouros, 15.2%.

    Final printout: Carlisle, 38.8%; Caldwell, 34.6%; Prevedouros, 18.5%.

  17. WooWoo Says:


    I see two R pickups in districts that do not fit your description of “first time incumbents.”

  18. David Shapiro Says:

    ppcc, 42,802 voted in the Republican primary for governor this year compared to 32,103 in 2006, suggesting there were more Republican crossovers that year and certainly not an unusually high number this year.

  19. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Woo-Woo: I am not talking about districts outside of Windward O`ahu. It is likely that Michael Magaoay’s seat will go to Gil Riviere – not for philosophical reasons but because of his community service record.

    I see one Republican losing her seat so that’s a wash. If she wins, it’ll will be very, very close.

    As for the other Republican winners, there are five other potential House seats on O`ahu held by Democrats that might go into the Republican column; however, there are other factors at play such as the turnout for Neil and probably Colleen

    However, we’re doing the in-depth analyses on just the five House Districts and two Senate Districts.

  20. Kolea Says:

    Here are some figures on GOP primary turnout in recent years. They might raise more wuestions than they answer.

    2004 60,222 (25.5% of the primary vote).
    2006 32,698 (12% of the primary vote).
    2008 42,480 (18% of the primary vote).
    2010 45,677 (16% of the primary vote).

    In 2004 and 2006, there were NO interesting major contests in either party’s primary. Which might suggest those are (were) the “natural” breakdown of voters’ alignments. Except the two figures are so far apart.

    In 2006, most of the excitement was in the Democratic primary, with the headline race being Akaka vs. Case. That year was also the year we had Hirono, Hanabusa, Matsunaga, Hoosier, Schatz, Hee (etc) battling for the 2nd CD seat. So voters wanting to have an impact had an incentive to take a Democratic ballot, (almost) regardless of their party alignment. (On the GOP side, there was the Bob Hogue v. Quentin Kawananakoa race, which Quentin barely lost. Probably because most Hawaiian voters chose to vote for Akaka over Case and because Lingle’s Hawaiian lieutenants encouraged them to cross over in the hopes of killing Case’s chance at a Senate seat).

    This year, almost all the action was, again, in the Democratic primary. The GOP primary battle for Second CD failed to elicit enough interest to keep 2nd CD Republicans from crossing over. GOP turnout for First and 2nd CD is virtually identical.

    The Democratic elected officials who sought to cultivate and benefit from th “Red Shirt” anti-civil union mobilization of the religious conservatives appear to have over-estimated the projected benefits. Whether the entire movement is a Paper Tiger remains to be seen in the General Election. But those Democrats who tried to ride that tiger, seem to have lost out: Bunda, Sakamoto, Okino and Hannemann as the most obvious examples. And no pro-civil unions incumbent appears to have lost in the primary.

    It is difficult to know how many votes these candidates would have received had the Republican Party leaders not explicitly called for Republicans to stay in their own primary. When push came to shove, the GOP alignment of the red shirt movement emerged as more important than allowing Democratic fellow-travelers to cash in on the movement. Mufi’s operatives, like Ken Wong and Dennis Arakaki scrambled to try to salvage their position, but lost out to the GOP’s more dominant hold on the religious right.

    I don’t expect everyone to agree wit my interpretation of the data. But can someone try to offer an explanation for the high GOP vote in the 2004 primary? And explain why it has shrunk so much since then?

  21. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:


    What brought out the GOP voters in 2004? The Hannemann/Bainum battle – remember that to win the Mayor’s race in the Primary requires 50% plus one vote. Mufi knew that he could never get that many votes so by getting Frank Fasi to run killed that chance for Duke Bainum. Mufi only won in the General by 1,354 votes – about one half of one percent.

    BAINUM, Duke 84,197 45.5%
    HANNEMANN, Mufi 78,279 42.3%
    FASI, Frank F. 17,719 9.6%

    Another attraction to GOP voters would have been Mike Gabbard running for the Second Congressional District nomination.

  22. Kolea Says:


    I don’t think that explains it. Someone didn’t have to take a GOP primary ballot to vote in the Mayor’s race. And Gabbard running in the 2nd got fewer votes than Dalton Tanonaka running in the First, so you may be projecting enthusiasm into the past which didn’t exist at the time. Dalton was scarcely an exciting candidate.

    Perhaps the answer is that there was more enthusiasm among local GOP members, some optimism making folks want to identify with the Party, perhaps part of the Bush triumphalism which infected so many while Bush strutted around, insisting everybody call him the “Commander-in-Chief.”

    Despite the talk about the new outburst of energy among the Religious Right and the Tea Party types, it looks like actual participation in GOP primaries has declined significantly in Hawaii. Maybe the enthusiasm being tapped into by the current GOP leadership is causing fewer voters to self-identify as Republicans.

  23. Nikki Heat Says:

    Yeah, I don’t equate the Tea Party folks with the RIGHTeous Christians. Given few new registered voters in Central Maui, I would agree that the mission field in my community for getting Christians to vote RIGHTeously is among the existing flock of mostly Democrat voting residents.

  24. David Shapiro Says:

    Republicans were still on a Lingle high and making a huge push for House seats in 2004, with big talk of ending the super-majority at a minimum and possibly getting to 26. When they sufferered further losses instead, it seemed to take the wind out of them in the next two elections.

  25. Kolea Says:

    OK, Dave. You are probably right that it was more of a “Lingle high” than a Bush high. But my question still stands. look at the number of GOP primary voters in 2004 and compare those numbers to today’s low GOP turnout. Either those voters no longer view themselves as Republicans OR they ARE Republicans at heart, but are crossing over into the Democratic primary where the “action” is.

    I suspect it is a little of both. You have praised Jonah Ka`auwai for fielding candidates for almost every race. But almost all of those candidates would have been regarded as “fringe” in the GOP of 2004. The Lingle group have been good sports in helping pass the baton onto Aiona’s team. But there really is no place for them in the organization, given the trajectory it is on.

    It might be that the failure of the Red Shirt gang in the Democratic primary will cause some GOP strategists to tone down the hard religious right talk for the General Election. If Aiona is seen as a continuation of that line of “reasoning,” I think a lot of moderate voters will be more willing to see Neil Abercrombie as an “independent” advocate for change.

    The GOP calculation that Neil would be easier to beat than Mufi probably will be shown to be wrong. Mufi collapsed partly because of the mean-spirited tone of his campaign, but also because he was seen as the leading heir of the “pay to play,” Old Boy way of doing “business.” Even if Inouye’s people will be supporting Neil, he cannot be credibly accused of being their “boy.”

    From my edxperince, there are a lot of Republicans who disagree with Neil, but admire him for being a “straightshooter.” If Aiona comes across as a theocrat, he will lose a lot of moderate, Republican-friendly voters.

    Jonah does not appear to be smart enough to see this. Dylan Nonaka may be.

  26. jayz43 Says:

    I agree with all points presented by ppcc, although I believe homelessness is also a hot topic. Aiona should sit down with Carlisle to get his views and try to meld a collaborative approach to a problem that has been left to fester for too long.

    I also sense GOP chairman Jonah Ka‘auwai and religious extremists may be the biggest threats to Aiona’s candidacy.

  27. Michael Says:

    Rail is an issue for the Mayor not the Governor.
    Homeless is also an issue for the Mayor. The Governor will have 4 counties to take care of. Not just Oahu. Oahu is not the only Island in Hawaii.

    Being local is not how one looks but their thinking.
    I am a sunburnt Asian but I voted for Abercrombie and Schatz. Abercrombie does not look local but he lived and went to school here and he thinks very much local. “I think so therefore I am.” I did not vote for Hanneman because he looks local or is local but because he is “Harvard”. I want a leader to look at me not look down on me.

    Local thinking is ah!, ainokea, but we do actually care in a way, just No step on my toes. Keep this in mind. There is a bumper sticker saying. “Slow down, this is not the Mainland”. Not only in driving but in thinking. No Push or shoving. Not thinking one are better.

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