Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos. 10/2-3. Likely voters. MoE 2.7%
Neil Abercrombie (D) 49
Duke Aiona (R) 47
Undecided (R) 4
Former Democratic U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie has a slim lead over Republican Duke Aiona in Hawaii's gubernatorial contest, giving Democrats a chance at picking up a governorship from the Republican Party. According to a poll conducted for us by Public Policy Polling, Abercrombie registers at 49% of the vote with Aiona at 47%.
As with most midterm contests, this race is going to come down to turnout. If turnout were like it was in 2008, the race wouldn't be close -- Abercrombie would be ahead by double-digits, 56-40. It's worth pointing out that 2008 was an especially good year for Democrats in Hawaii thanks to voters turning out for President Obama who -- despite what Fox might want you to believe -- was born in the state. So it would be unrealistic to expect a full and complete return to those sorts of numbers. Nonetheless, even a modest narrowing of intensity between Democrats and Republicans would probably be enough to ensure Abercrombie wins the race.
On the topic of the intensity gap, Nate Silver takes a look at how to analyze it over at FiveThirtyEight's new home on nytimes.com. Nate's basic assessment: there is a gap, but it's not exactly a function of depressed Democrats. Rather, it's a function of unusually excited Republicans. Nate says polling numbers show Democrats are actually more likely than usual to vote. It's just that Republicans are far more likely to vote than usual. That doesn't remove the problem of the intensity gap -- but it suggests that the challenge Democrats face is more about activating Democratic-leaning voters that typically don't have strong turnout numbers in midterm elections, typically young people and minorities. (Yet another reason why Walt Minnick's anti-immigration attack ad was both offensive and foolish.)
In addition to polling the gubernatorial contest, we also polled the congressional races in Hawaii. Yesterday, we released results for the congressional race in Hawaii's first CD, showing Democrat Colleen Hanabusa had edged ahead of incumbent Republican Charles Djou. We also polled the second district where Democrat Mazie Hirona has a substantial 55-32 lead over Republican John Willoughby. Abercrombie leads by 4 in the second district while he trails in the first -- despite having represented it in Congress.