|10-27-2004, 12:07 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Topeka, KS
Forget Florida...It may be all about the islands...
Spotlight could shine on Hawai'i
By Jerry Burris
Advertiser Editorial Editor
Move over, Florida and Ohio. Welcome to the newest "battleground state" in the presidential sweepstakes of 2004: Hawai'i.
Hawai'i? You must be kidding.
Nope. Poll results in yesterday's Advertiser suggest the race between Republican George Bush and Democrat John Kerry is a virtual toss-up in the Islands.
That goes a little bit against conventional wisdom, but is not all that strange, when you think about it. While Hawai'i is regularly counted in the Democratic column, that hasn't always been the case.
In our first presidential election after statehood, Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John Kennedy ended in a virtual tie. The first count of the ballots gave it to Nixon, while the second handed Hawai'i and its (then) three electoral votes to Kennedy.
That could have been important if the GOP had gone ahead and challenged results in Illinois, Texas and several other states where widespread voter fraud was alleged.
As it was, Nixon decided not to challenge the results, and in fact, actually presided over the U.S. Senate when the decision was made to accept the Kennedy electors over the Nixon ones.
Subsequently, Hawai'i voted twice for Republicans: The second-term re-election bids by Nixon and Ronald Reagan. So the thought of Hawai'i going for another re-election bid by a Republican is not totally outlandish.
But then, you ask, why does this matter, anyway? How important could tiny Hawai'i's four electoral votes be in a nationwide contest?
Depending on how the math works out, they could be very important. Remember four years ago in the spectacularly close election between Bush and Al Gore, Bush won the Electoral College and the presidency with exactly one vote to spare. It takes 270 electoral votes to become president. Bush received 271.
What is interesting about the Hawai'i Poll results reported yesterday is that a substantial number of voters appear determined not to change horses in midstream despite strong negative feelings about such things as the war in Iraq and their own personal economic security.
Think about it: A majority of those surveyed said they believe they were misled about the rationale for the war in Iraq. A strong majority believe we are less safe than we were before we invaded. A substantial majority believe the troops won't be brought home on schedule.
And they are evenly split about whether Social Security will be there for them when they retire. More than half of the respondents said they were Democrats.
Yet after all that, they were just as likely to say they'll vote for Bush as for Kerry. The power of incumbency!
Analysts have been saying for months that this presidential election could be as close, or even closer, than the one four years ago which was eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
If that scenario plays out this year, Hawai'i finally may get its moment in the national political spotlight.