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  • Civil Beat Poll: Strong Support for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

    · By Richard Wiens

    Far more Hawaii voters support establishing medical marijuana dispensaries than just over a year ago, according to a new Civil Beat poll.

    But voters still oppose legalization of marijuana for recreational use by about the same margin as last year.

    Asked if they would support state legislation to “create production centers and dispensaries for medical marijuana in each county,” 62 percent of respondents in the latest poll said “yes,” 26 percent said “no,” and 12 percent were undecided.

    But last year, only 45 percent of respondents supported the establishment of dispensaries, while 47 percent percent opposed it and 9 percent were undecided, according to a February 2014 Civil Beat poll.

    Unlike the new poll, last year’s question about medical marijuana noted it was “still an illegal drug under federal law.”

    But Civil Beat’s pollster said the dramatic shift has little do with the wording of the questions and much to do with voters reaching a “tipping point” on the question of medical marijuana dispensaries.

    “Middle-age and older voters are moving to the consensus that medical marijuana is appropriate in controlled doses,” said Matthew Fitch, executive director of the Merriman River Group.

    ‘Going to Be a Non-Issue Soon’

    The latest poll of 780 registered voters was conducted April 7-9 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

    The poll results come just as the Legislature appears on the verge of passing a bill to establish dispensaries — 15 years after Hawaii became one of the first states

  • Civil Beat Poll: Ige Up by 6 Over Aiona

    · By Chad Blair

    Democrat David Ige appears headed to victory in the race for Hawaii governor.

    With just over one week until the Nov. 4 election, the state senator leads Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, 40 percent to 34 percent, according to a new Civil Beat Poll.

    The latest numbers suggest that the contest continues to be a two-person race. Early voting has already begun.

    David Ige during an editorial board meeting at the Civil Beat offices on Oct. 1.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Clear Trend Line

    Only 11 percent of voters favor former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate. Libertarian Jeff Davis is at 6 percent while 8 percent of voters are undecided.

    “I think it’s a pretty clear trend,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted The Civil Beat Poll. “Slowly but steadily, Ige coming out of the primary has increased his margin and, in my opinion, it’s very hard to imagine him losing.”

    Civil Beat surveyed 1,221 likely voters statewide Oct. 16-19. The poll, which sampled 70 percent landlines versus 30 percent cellphones, has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

    Abercrombie Voters Back Ige

    Fitch said he expected Ige to continue to widen his vote margin over Aiona as the Nov. 4 election approaches.

    “The Democratic Party in Hawaii has traditionally had a stronger ground game than Republicans in terms of get-out-the-vote efforts,” he said. “If they can produce the sort of turnout effort of two years ago in the presidential election, I can easily see Ige winning by 10 points or more.”

    One indicator of Ige’s appeal to his party is that a larger percentage of voters

  • Civil Beat Poll: Public-Private Preschool Amendment Divides Voters

    · By Chad Blair

    By a large majority — 61 percent to 25 percent — Hawaii voters do not want to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices from 70 to 80.

    By an even larger margin — 70 percent to 13 percent — voters also want to have the names of nominees for judges and justices released to the public.

    But voters are torn about whether the state should allow the use of public money for private preschool programs. Forty-five percent oppose the idea, 40 percent support it and 12 percent are unsure.

    Those numbers are from The Civil Beat Poll, conducted by Merriman River Group. We surveyed 1,055 registered voters statewide Sept. 11-14. The poll sample included 75 percent land lines and 25 percent cell phones and has a margin of error of 3 percent.

    The Hawaii Supreme Court in mid-2014: Paula Nakayama, Richard Pollack, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Michael Wilson and Sabrina McKenna.

    Hawaii State Judiciary

    There are five constitutional amendment questions on the Nov. 4 ballot.

    Civil Beat did not survey voters on question No. 2 asking for the use of special purpose revenue bonds for agricultural projects, or on question No. 5 asking for the use of special purpose revenue bonds to improve dams and reservoirs. Neither issue attracted opposition as the legislation moved through the Hawaii Legislature this spring.

    That is not the case, however, with the other three constitutional amendments.

    Question No. 1: Disclosure of Nominees

    The state’s Judicial Selection Commission amended its rules in 2011 to publicly release the names of judicial nominees when they are submitted to the governor or chief

  • Civil Beat Poll: Democrat Ige Leads Republican Aiona By 4 Percent

    · By Chad Blair

    Democrat David Ige has a 4 percentage point lead over Republican Duke Aiona in the Hawaii governor’s race.

    Ige, a state senator, is up 43 percent to 39 percent over Aiona, the former lieutenant governor.

    Just 8 percent of voters favor Mufi Hannemann, the former Honolulu mayor running as the candidate of the Hawaii Independent Party.

    Libertarian candidate Jeff Davis is at 2 percent. A total of 8 percent of voters surveyed are unsure as to who they’ll vote for in the Nov. 4 general election.

    A relatively unknown candidate, Ige overcame a 10-1 fundraising deficit to defeat the sitting governor, Neil Abercrombie, in the primary.

    Gubernatorial candidates, from left, Duke Aiona, Jeff Davis, Mufi Hannemann and David Ige at a forum sponsored by the West Oahu Economic Development Association on Aug. 26 at UH West Oahu.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted The Civil Beat Poll, says the contest is a two-person race at this stage that favors Ige.

    “Among people who voted in the Democratic primary, Ige does as well among Abercrombie voters as he does with those who voted for him,” said Fitch. “That means two things. On one level, Abercrombie voters are loyal Democrats that are not going to vote for Aiona. And given the way Abercrombie handled his defeat, that certainly doesn’t hurt. He could not have been more gracious.”

    Fitch noted that Ige there were “a significant number” of Republicans who “crossed over” and pulled the Democratic Party ballot in the primary.

    “They either just wanted to get

  • Civil Beat Poll: Projecting the Winners

    · By Matthew Fitch and Seth Rosenthal

    Prior to the August primary we wrote about how we produce our polls. We discussed some unique challenges to conducting surveys in Hawaii, and we dissected a 2012 poll that was notably off the mark. As part of Civil Beat’s commitment to transparency, it is important to review our most recent polling results now that the concrete election results are known.

    Before we get into this year’s polling, it’s a good time for a reminder about one common misconception about election polls: They are a great tool for predicting the outcomes, but they are not intended to be a prediction of the exact results.

    Polls are a snapshot in time of public opinion and voter intentions, both of which are moving targets. Most elections have some last minute twists and turns, and every campaign has strengths and weaknesses in the critical final days that often materially affect the outcome.

    The midday voting crowd at Keonepoko Elementary School during late balloting in the storm-damaged Puna District of Hawaii Island on Aug. 15.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat


    This is particularly true in lower-turnout elections, such as primaries, where small changes in circumstances can have outsized effects on the results. And it’s fair to say that the recent primary election had a number of unpredictable elements in the closing days!

    What we got right: We were pleased to correctly project the winners in all four races we polled. In the races for the Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor and for the First Congressional District

  • The Civil Beat Poll: How We Do It

    · By Matthew Fitch and Seth Rosenthal

    There has recently been increased interest, some of it critical, regarding the methods we use to conduct election polls in Hawaii. Our methods are straightforward and based on industry best practices. Our goal is to accurately capture the opinions and intentions of Hawaii’s voters.

    For every poll we conduct, we follow a standardized, step-by-step procedure. Even though we may sometimes be surprised by what we find, we are always guided by our data. Because of the nature of political polling, we do have to make some judgment calls along the way. But we fully appreciate that the most important experts about public opinion in Hawaii are you — the public.

    Voters go to the polls in 2012.

    Anita Hofschneider/Civil Beat

    Bearing that in mind, here is a brief, step-by-step description of our methods:

    Step 1: Create an Unbiased Survey

    Our most important goal is to understand public opinion in Hawaii without influencing it. We carefully vet every question in each of our surveys for potential sources of bias. And in election surveys, we take the additional step of creating multiple versions of candidate match-up questions so different survey takers hear the candidate’s names in different orders.

    For instance, half of the respondents to the current poll answered questions about a Senate race between Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa, while the other half answered questions about a race between Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz. This randomization exceeds industry standards for automated polling (that is to say, surveys where the questions are pre-recorded and

  • Civil Beat Poll: Schatz, Takai Both Frontrunners For Washington, D.C.

    · By Nick Grube

    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz appears to have stretched out his lead over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, according to the latest Civil Beat Poll.

    The survey of likely Democratic voters shows Schatz with a 49 percent to 41 percent edge on the congresswoman. That’s a wider lead than in May, the last time Civil Beat polled the race.

    Poll results also show Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai is now the frontrunner in a seven-way free-for-all for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 1st Congressional District.

    Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim previously held the edge, but now trails Takai by a 7 point margin.

    Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai, left, and U.S. Sen.Brian Schatz are leading in the polls.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Civil Beat surveyed 1,240 registered Hawaii voters statewide from July 24-28. Of those, 895 said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary and of those 482 said they are in CD1.

    The poll included land lines and cellphones. The margin of error for the Senate poll is 3.3 percent. It’s 4.5 percent for CD1.

    ‘Modest But Stubborn’

    Schatz continues to hold a firm lead in his bid to stay in office, and looks to have been adding to his support. Hanabusa on the other hand has a lot of work to do if she hopes to move from the House to the Senate.

    “It might end up being a tick or two closer, but certainly Schatz is in the driver’s seat,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, the firm that

  • Civil Beat Poll: Ige Maintains Solid Lead Over Abercrombie

    · By Chad Blair

    With barely a week to go before the primary election, state Sen. David Ige has a double-digit lead over Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, a new Civil beat Poll shows.

    A majority of Hawaii voters surveyed statewide, or 51 percent, who say they will vote in the Democratic primary said they would vote for Ige, compared with 41 percent for Abercrombie. Just 8 percent said they are undecided.

    The new survey suggests that Ige’s surprisingly strong showing in a Civil Beat Poll published June 12 was no fluke. Ige led Abercrombie 48-37 percent at that time.

    Surprising, because Ige is a relatively unknown challenger with a more than 10-to-1 fundraising disadvantage against Abercrombie, who is the far better-known politician.

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Sen. David Ige during an AARP Hawaii debate at the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona on Tuesday.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    What’s more, the state’s economy is growing steadily, unemployment is low and the administration has a record that includes significant accomplishments.

    The explanation for voter sentiment, the poll suggests, is that a lot of people simply don’t care much for Neil Abercrombie.

    Civil Beat surveyed 1,240 registered voters statewide July 24-28. Of those, 895 said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary. Using those numbers for likely Democratic voters, this poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

    The poll included landlines and cell phone users. Civil Beat did not include a third Democrat running for governor, Van K. Tanabe, in this survey.

    Just 43 percent of those voters said

  • Civil Beat Poll – Full Questionnaire and Results — February 2014

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Read all the questions, answers and analysis of the February poll.

  • Civil Beat Poll — Oahu Voters Don’t Like Mufi But Are OK With Caldwell

    · By Chad Blair

    Survey shows divided opinion over whether former Honolulu mayor should run for office again.

  • Civil Beat Poll — Voters Want Higher Minimum Wage, Reject Legal Pot

    · By Chad Blair

    Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed don’t want to legalize weed in Hawaii.

  • Civil Beat Poll — Donna Kim Leads Hawaii Race for 1st Congressional Seat

    · By Chad Blair

    But Mark Takai is not far behind and the seat remains competitive in a large field.

  • Civil Beat Poll — Hawaii’s U.S. Senate Race In ‘Holding Pattern’

    · By Chad Blair

    Schatz and Hanabusa are tied among likely Democratic primary voters with one-fifth still unsure.

  • Civil Beat Poll — A Referendum on Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie?

    · By Chad Blair

    The incumbent is tied with challenger David Ige among likely Democratic primary voters.

  • Civil Beat Poll – Full Questionnaire and Results — October 2013

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Read all the questions, answers and analysis of the October poll.