Mazie Hirono (D): 48 (52)
Linda Lingle (R): 42 (40)
Undecided: 10 (9)
Mazie Hirono (D): 56
John Carroll (R): 29
Ed Case (D): 43 (52)
Linda Lingle (R): 45 (35)
Undecided: 12 (12)
Ed Case (D): 60
John Carroll (R): 21
These numbers represent a big change from March, when a PPP poll for Daily Kos and SEIU showed Lingle losing badly to all comers. What's changed since then? Tom Jensen:
When PPP polled the state in March, shortly after Lingle's second term as Governor ended, only 41% of voters in the state had a favorable opinion of her to 51% with a negative one. Those poor numbers had her running 17 points behind Ed Case and 12 points behind Mazie Hirono in hypothetical head to head match ups.
The passage of time appears to have done Lingle some good though. Her favorability is up 5 points to 46% while her negatives have dropped 8 points to 43%.
What's most interesting, though, is how these results blow a huge hole in Case's argument that he's more electable. While he has much stronger favorables among Republicans an independents, that doesn't translate into picking up more crossover votes. On the flipside, though, Hirono's much greater popularity with Democrats allows her to hold on to members of her own party much better than Case in matchups with Lingle (77-17 vs. 67-24).
This disparity partially explains the results of the Democratic primary (MoE ±5.1%):
Mazie Hirono (D): 45
Ed Case (D): 40
You might have expected Hirono to have a wider lead, given her 71-16 favorables among Democrats as opposed to Case's much weaker 51-25 rating. But Hawaii has an open primary, and Case does much better with Republicans and independents. Still, this race is very early, and the primary is the better part of a year away. Hirono outraised Case in the most recent quarter, $300K to $136K, has about a 3-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage, and also has the entire establishment lining up behind her. So I really wonder if Case will stay competitive over the long haul.
The bigger question is whether this is a ceiling for Lingle, or whether she can do better still. I'm genuinely surprised at her recovery here, and I may have been over-hasty in writing her off back in the spring. Still, if you look at the Hirono matchup, Lingle's own numbers have moved up just two points in the head-to-head, which is hardly dramatic. But if the DSCC has to play defense here, then that will count as a victory of sorts for the GOP, and that's very much what we don't want.
P.S. Those numbers against ex-state Sen. John Carroll show you what an ordinary D-vs.-R matchup looks like in Hawaii. Unfortunately, we won't get that: Lingle leads Carrol 85-9 in a hypothetical GOP primary.