'GOTV' clock counts down on candidates
YOU CAN hound, cajole and hector them for months. Call them up weekly, offer to drive them to the polls. Appeal to their vanity, say their vote is the only one that counts. Or humiliate them, saying they are barely citizens if they don't vote.
This week the mission for supporters of Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Ed Case is this: Make people vote for their guy.
By Saturday night, all those stories of getting out the vote, GOTV in political-speak, will be reduced to digits as the state election computers tally up the numbers.
By Sunday morning if the vote is close, by Saturday night if there is a sharp difference, we will know if Akaka or Case wins the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
Last Monday, I spent the day talking to people who had just voted on the first day of absentee voting. It is an enjoyable exercise, because right after someone votes, they always seem pleased with themselves and nearly everyone feels comfortable explaining who they voted for and why.
Some of the voters come up with reasons that would confound the most skilled political interviewer.
One young haole fellow explained he was voting in the Democratic primary. Immediately I figured this was part of the much-discussed GOP switch to Case.
Half-right -- he was a Republican, but he was voting for Akaka, saying it was essential that Akaka serve another term.
And then there was a retired AJA school teacher in Pearlridge who appeared to be the bedrock of the Hawaii Democratic Party. I looked at her and thought, "I bet she used to listen to former Gov. Jack Burns and was one of those famous 'little sparrows' that would vote a straight Democratic ticket."
Nope, got that one 100 percent wrong. She was voting for Case, but she and all her friends were Republicans.
More predictable but still interesting was the variety of voters by geographic area. At City Hall, the first-day voting crowd was professional and political. These were staff workers and assistants in political offices, or court workers who probably knew most of Honolulu's politicians.
The vote there was strongly in favor of Akaka.
But then out at Kapolei Hale, the voters were more mixed, a mom with her kids in tow, a retiree wearing a faded "Visit Yellowstone" T-shirt and a city worker on his lunch break. The vote there was by Democrats and for Case.
I asked as many voters as possible how they got the information to make a decision. A majority said they actually read about the candidates. The second-highest way they said they got information was by listening to the candidates, either in a debate or attending a coffee hour.
However they get the information, first-day voters are an akamai bunch, and both Case and Akaka wish there were more of them.
writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org