Monday, October 28, 2002

Election 2002
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Vote-influencing issues
include government
change, economy

Negative ads irk voters

By Pat Omandam

Hawaii Pacific University finance major Joseph Barnum has read Linda Lingle's "A New Beginning for Hawaii" and says there are a few flaws in the Republican gubernatorial candidate's proposals for the state economy.

"It's good in theory," Barnum said.

How Lingle or Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono will improve the economy was among the issues poll respondents said will most strongly influence their decision to vote for governor next week, according to a new Honolulu Star-Bulletin/KITV 4 News poll.

Topping the list of issues was whether either woman could bring change to government, followed by her views on education and how she will improve the economy. Her leadership ability, how she deals with corruption in government, the protection of government jobs and services and her position on state taxes were other key issues raised.

About a quarter of those polled had other issues or did not answer the question.


Traditionally, the economy, education and change have been standard campaign pledges by gubernatorial candidates. This year, the emphasis on change in government is pronounced as Hawaii Republicans, who came close to winning the governor's seat in 1998, hope to ride that sentiment this fall and end the Democrats' 40-year control of the state's top office.

A Star-Bulletin/KITV 4 News poll yesterday showed Lingle and Hirono are in a tie in the race to become Hawaii's first woman governor.

Barnum, a HPU senior, believes economic development is the most important issue Hawaii voters want to see. That's because the state has been too dependent on tourism and the military, and it needs to find other economic engines.

For example, he said, since Hawaii is not headquarters for any major national company, state leaders should find ways to make it an appealing corporate homebase. That, in turn, will lead to more jobs and a greater business presence.

"We need to try to bring in more big business," Barnum said downtown last week.

The poll was taken among 600 Hawaii registered voters who were randomly selected and interviewed by telephone Oct. 17-24 by Market Trends Pacific Inc. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Poll results show education was the most influential issue for Oahu voters, as well as for those who identified themselves as Democrats. Respondents on the neighbor islands, Republicans and independents ranked change to government as the top issue that will influence their decision for governor.

By ethnicity, respondents of Caucasian and Japanese ancestry favored a change in government, while education most influenced Filipino and Hawaiian voters.

Those over the age of 41 ranked change in government as the most important issue, while those under age 41 said it was education.

James Houser, a HPU senior majoring in political science, said public education and economic development are the issues which will influence his vote.

"There's too much emphasis on tourism," he said. "I think we need to find something else as a backup."

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