The race to fill retiring Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka’s seat has remained largely under the radar, as Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono holds a double digit lead in most polls. But an internal poll from former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle’s campaign suggests that the race could be much closer than that.
The memo from pollster Jan van Lohuizen, reported by the Hawaii Reporter, says that the tracking poll conducted from Oct. 9-16, found Lingle trailing Hirono 43 percent to 47 percent.
“Contrary to the perception on the Mainland, the situation on the ground in Hawaii shows it is a very close race,” van Lohuizen wrote.
The most recent independent poll — and the only poll conducted since July — was a Honolulu Civil Beat poll conducted at the end of September that found Hirono up by 16 points, 55 percent to 39 percent. But van Lohuizen argued that the poll’s results were questionable, since “nearly 50% of the interviews were conducted with seniors (65+), when the exit polling conducted in 2008 shows that only 14% of the votes cast is [sic] cast by seniors.”
The memo says that the latest tracking poll results, based on interviews with 1200 likely voters statewide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, shows a “significant gain from our track in late September.”
“We also lead on all but one diagnostic questions [sic], including ‘effective in getting things done’ and ‘willingness to work across party lines,'” writes van Lohuizen.
The memo says the Hirono campaign must also be seeing the shifting numbers because “they’re now attacking on Medicare.”
Hirono campaign manager Betsy Lin said that was certainly not the case.
“What the Lingle campaign describes as a ‘poll memo’ is just an incomplete paragraph that raises more questions than it answers,” she said in a statement. “It’s odd Linda Lingle is willing to publicly declare, ‘Mitt Romney would be a better president for Hawaii’ than President Obama — yet refuses to publicly back up her reputed ‘poll results’ with any actual proof.”
“With her loyalty to the narrow, national Republican, Romney-Ryan agenda clearly established, Linda Lingle is falling well out of favor with the people of Hawaii,” Lin went on. “That’s what public polls show, that’s what our reputable internal polling shows and it’s what we believe Hawaii voters will prove on election day. And, the Lingle campaign knows it.”
But the Lingle campaign was adamant that the race was not over, though some appear to have written it off.
“As we’ve been saying, our race is a statistical dead-heat,” Lenny Klompus, communications director for Lingle’s Senate campaign, told the Hawaii Reporter, noting that in the 2002 gubernatorial race, Lingle beat Hirono.
“With 20 days to go, and early walk-in voting beginning Monday, Linda Lingle is perfectly positioned to win this race against Mazie Hirono — just as she’s done before,” Klompus said.