Isle Dems can take Obamania even further
Here's how you know things are changing. Hawaii Democrats were giddy Tuesday and Wednesday as the icons of their party were just blown away by the political force that has become the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama.
Remember how people in November had to tell you where they were when they saw the University of Hawaii beat Washington? Since Tuesday, the refrain has been, "What caucus did you go to? Let me tell you about our caucus."
Newcomers, all 32,000 of them, said it was chaos and they loved it.
Never mind that much of the leadership of the state Senate and Hawaii's nominee for political sainthood, Sen. Dan Inouye, were on the wrong side of the vote. Democrats just raved about the fun of the caucus.
Even Inouye called the vote "historic" and compared it to the excitement of Hawaii's vote for statehood.
So who are all these new D's and what does it mean?
More than 37,000 turned out to vote in a caucus that usually draws a couple of thousand. A lot came from the neighbor islands.
If you look at precinct turnout, seven of the top 10 precincts were on the neighbor islands. And, if you do the math by House districts, 14 of the top 25 House districts were off Oahu.
During Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's 1998 and 2002 campaigns, the conventional political wisdom was that the neighbor islands were going Republican.
The thinking was that the neighbor islands had dramatic population increases and the newcomers were white, wealthy and conservative.
Brian Schatz, the former state representative now working on the Obama campaign, says that was wrong.
"The conventional wisdom was that the neighbor island newcomers were Republicans," Schatz said.
"It turns out that tens of thousands of progressives are moving to the neighbor islands.
"Kihei, Kona and Waimea used to be solidly Republican, but today those areas are helping us," Schatz said.
The newcomers brought to the table by Obama represent an amazing opportunity.
If the somewhat creaky Hawaii Democratic establishment can figure out a way to get the estimated 30,000 new members out of the lines and online, the Democrats will have once again reinvented themselves.