Civil Beat Poll - Case, Hirono Neck-and-Neck for U.S. Senate Nomination

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UPDATED 1/31/12 5 p.m. Editor's Note: Civil Beat has added a statement of methodology and demographics for this primary poll.1

Ed Case and Mazie Hirono are in a dogfight to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Daniel Akaka, according to a new Civil Beat Poll.

The race is a dead heat, the poll found. The gap between the two candidates, one a sitting congresswoman from Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, the other a former representative of that district, is within the poll's margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent.

The automated telephone survey of 1,358 likely voters found Case at 41 percent, Hirono at 39 percent, with 8 percent saying neither candidate and 12 percent still unsure. The poll was conducted on January 18 and 19.

Akaka, 87, announced in March that he would not run for a fourth time, setting the stage for a rare race for an open U.S. Senate seat in Hawaii. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, also 87, was first elected to the Senate in 1962. The last time Hawaii had an open U.S. Senate seat was in 1976.

The winner of the Aug. 11 Democratic primary election is expected to face former Gov. Linda Lingle in a race that's drawing national attention because control of the Senate is at stake and Hawaii's contest is expected to be one of the most closely fought. Lingle, who won two governor's elections, the first time beating Hirono, is a strong contender for the Republican Party. She has already shown her ability to out fundraise her potential Democratic opponents and she's the only one in the field who's won a statewide race at the top of a ticket. (Read Civil Beat's story on the results of its poll on the possible general election match-ups.)

The Civil Beat Poll is the most recent public measure of the race. It's a snapshot of voter opinion at the time the poll was taken, nearly seven months before the election. Much will happen during the campaign that could affect the outcome.

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