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[ HOW THE ELECTION WAS WON ]
Hawaii Democrats worked to register new and younger voters and were also able to grab neighbor island voters.
Democrats who had flirted with the moderate Republican philosophy offered by Lingle came home last night.
Lingle runs for re-election in two years and had staked her political reputation on winning more seats in the state Legislature. But late last night, she appeared headed to losing at least three incumbents.
At the same time, one new GOP candidate, Kymberly Pine, beat incumbent Democratic Rep. Romy Mindo in the usually strong Democratic Ewa Beach district.
The race for president in the closing days captured the public's attention as Hawaii became a battleground state. But when the votes were counted, Hawaii remained a Democratic stronghold.
Sen. John Kerry led Hawaii 55 percent to 44 percent.
Jadine Nielsen, who coordinated the local Kerry campaign for the Democratic National Committee, was prepared to have Hawaii be the last battleground for president.
"We think he (Kerry) is going to need all of the blue states," Nielsen said.
The difference in Hawaii, Nielsen said, is that voters in Hawaii do not make up their minds whom to vote for until late in the election season, so a poll taken two weeks before Election Day can change.
"Hawaii closes late," Nielsen said. "People were voting for change."
Brickwood Galuteria, Democratic Party chairman, said the last-minute campaign infused with $200,000 in new political advertising aimed against Bush "created a sense of urgency."
"We encouraged new voters, we tried to sign up new voters and when you get more people to vote, they are going to be Democrats," Galuteria said.
"It was just a year ago they said they would like to take over the state House, and they may just hold onto what they have," Galuteria said.
"If that is the way it needs to be, we will continue to take baby steps, but we are not just here for this election," Morioka added.
Asked if the election was also a rejection of Lingle, Morioka said no.
"She (Lingle) wasn't up for re-election. People are still drawn to her. I guess we just needed to get the message out," Morioka said.
Galuteria added that he thought Lingle "was a popular governor, but the voters recognize the accomplishments of the Democrats."
The election also proved to be a strong show of support for Hawaii's unions as the candidates with strong union backing, including Honolulu mayoral candidate Mufi Hannemann, generally were able to win.
Russell Okata, HGEA executive director, said the Democratic victories were helped by the unions rallying against the GOP.
"The president's race helped focus attention, but in this election we worked as a team.
"I haven't seen this kind of unity between the Democratic Party and the unions since Danny Akaka beat Pat Saiki," Okata said. "The unions, along with the Democratic Party, stood side by side, and the Democratic Party went back to its roots."
Democrat John Kerry drew support from Hawaii's young people and Neighbor Island voters in Tuesday's general election as President Bush held onto his Christian constituency, according to a statewide Associated Press exit poll.
Nearly one-third of the voters polled said their vote for president was mainly a vote against their candidate's opponent. Of those voters, about 8 out of 10 backed Kerry.
"I don't really like Kerry, but anybody but Bush," said Ramona Estrada, a 30-year-old social worker from Kailua-Kona. "I've always been Democrat all the way and I always vote, but this year the only issue is Bush not getting re-elected."
Both candidates held onto their political bases, but Bush was able to take 12 percent of the Democratic votes while splitting the independents, according to the poll of 499 Hawaii voters conducted for AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus 7 percentage points, higher for subgroups.
Bush lost about 7 percent of the GOP vote.
Logan Evans, a 52-year-old "dyed-in-the-wool Republican" from Hilo, said he voted for Bush in 2000, but supported Kerry this time around.
"I don't like the policy our current president has in Iraq," he said.
One in four voters strongly approved the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq and nearly all of them voted for the incumbent. Kerry garnered about one-third of voters who strongly disapproved of the decision.
Theresa Ramirez, 26, whose husband is serving in Afghanistan, favored Bush.
"I think President Bush knows how to lead this country in a war. I don't think John Kerry does," said the registered nurse from Kapolei. "Even though it affects me personally, I thing it's the right thing."
Tokuji Ono, 85, a World War II veteran, said Bush is the right choice to finish the job in Iraq.
"In a moment of urgency or importance, like they say, 'You don't change horses in the middle of the stream,'" said Ono, a retired educator from Honolulu. "If you have a commander in chief in a moment of crisis, you don't want a new commander in chief."
The traditional gender gap wasn't as apparent in the islands as it was nationwide. Women and men were split in supporting the candidates.
Geri Kaneko, 48, a nurse from Hilo, said she voted for Bush because "he's done a lot of good stuff to help the people and I didn't like Kerry's attitude or the way he ran his campaign."
The president also fared well with voters who said they were financially better off today compared with four years ago. Bush was the choice of about two-thirds of those voters. The senator from Massachusetts won the majority of those who said their money situation was about the same or worse.
Young voters _ ages 18-29 _ favored Kerry, and he and Bush ran close among senior citizens.
Bush did well among Protestants and other Christians, while Kerry carried a large majority with those who declared no religious background.
Meanwhile, in the race for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Daniel Inouye easily won his eighth consecutive term by landing men, women, and every age and income group. He also took one in four Republican voters and three quarters of the independents.
Republican challenger Cam Cavasso won support from Bush supporters, conservatives and two-thirds of voters who strongly approved the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq.
A last-minute campaign blitz by Democrats helped Sen. John Kerry beat back a late surge in the polls by President Bush to win Hawaii's four electoral votes.
Kerry, who led in all counties, received 55 percent of the island vote, to Bush's 46 percent, with more than half the vote counted. The Massachusetts Democrat garnered 167,360 votes, while Bush received 134,348.
Going into Tuesday's election, the race had appeared to be a close contest in this traditionally Democratic state.
Voters who chose Kerry cited the war in Iraq, and said the Democrat would end the U.S. involvement sooner than Bush. Voters who chose Bush cited his leadership during the war.
"Bush has had his chance and the thing that I hope gets him out of office is the war," said John Crudele, a 30-year resident of Kailua-Kona, who typically votes Republican.
Republicans and Democrats worked hard for the island state's four electoral votes after two late-campaign media polls indicated Bush had drawn even with Kerry. One poll said 9 percent of island voters were undecided, while the other said 12 percent.
Kerry led by huge gaps on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, where Kerry got close to 60 percent of the vote, but the margin was closer in Honolulu, where he had 52 percent to Bush's 47 percent.
The polls ignited a flurry of activity among Bush and Kerry supporters that culminated late Sunday night with Vice President Dick Cheney's pre-midnight stopover in Hawaii.
Over the weekend, Kerry's elder daughter Alexandra and former Vice President Al Gore made last-minute trips to Hawaii to campaign for the Massachusetts senator.
Kerry himself and former President Bill Clinton conducted satellite TV interviews with local stations, while Kerry running-mate Sen. John Edwards spoke to island media by phone. And Kerry's Massachusetts colleague in the Senate, Democrat Edward Kennedy, phoned The Associated Press on Monday to stress Hawaii's importance to the race.
Nearly 20 percent of the state's registered voters cast their votes well before polls opened Tuesday, when the nation choose the next president of the United States. A record 125,800 of Hawaii's 647,238 registered voters voted absentee or at early walk-in sites, state elections officials said.
Theresa Ramirez, a 26-year-old registered nurse in Kapolei, favored Bush.
"I think President Bush knows how to lead this country in a war," said Ramirez, whose husband is serving in Afghanistan. "I don't think John Kerry does. Even though it affects me personally _ my husband will probably be deployed again _ I thing it's the right thing."
David Woodworth, 49, an astronomer from Hilo, said his vote for Kerry was a vote against Bush because of the war.
"There are a lot of policies of his I don't like, but that was the clincher," he said.
Denise Okouchi, 45, public high school teacher from Waipahu, a Kerry supporter, faulted the president for the No Child Left Behind Act.
"With the passage of No Child Left Behind and as an educator, seeing that there is no federal funding to actually fund a federal mandate, I find that ludicrous," Okouchi said.
She also disagreed with the war.
"I teach my students at school about international relations and the importance of international consensus," she said. "And what happened in Iraq was so against what I've been teaching my students."
Peter Krakowiak, 45, self-employed carpenter in Kailua, wanted to give the president four more years.
"I voted for Bush on moral issues based on philosophy, principles and ideology," he said. "The war in Iraq also was a factor. The person you vote for and how they would handle the situation makes a difference."
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