Civil Beat Poll - Did Abercrombie Make The Right Choice For Senator?

Chad Blair/ Civil Beat

Hawaii voters generally think Gov. Neil Abercrombie was right to pick his former lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, according to a new Civil Beat Poll conducted last week.

Voters were split between Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa when asked in a separate question who they would have picked between the three choices given to the governor. Very few supported Esther Kiaaina, now a state natural resources official.

But when asked if they approved Abercrombie's decision, 45 percent said yes while 36 percent said no. Nineteen percent were undecided.

What voters did disapprove of was the decision by Inouye's staff to release a private letter from the late senator to the governor urging him to appoint Hanabusa. That move is widely viewed as politically calculating and an effort to put pressure on Abercrombie to tap Hanabusa.

Abercrombie's approval rating is slightly higher than in recent polls, too.

The Civil Beat Poll was conducted Jan. 7-9. Merriman River Group randomly surveyed 813 registered voters using touch-tone polling. The margin of error is 3.4 percent.

However, for the first time in the two years Civil Beat has been conducting polls, calls to cell phones also were included in this survey. (Read more details in accompanying story.)

In addition to asking voters about the recent political shakeup in Hawaii, Civil Beat got a sense of how people feel about issues that likely will come before the Legislature, which begins its session Wednesday.

More stories to come later this week but lawmakers may not want to be so quick to abandon the Public Land Development Corporation, write off a state lottery or raise taxes to pay for growing unfunded pension liabilities. Same-sex marriage may be just around the political corner as well.

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