Election 2002

Hirono, Lingle
are tied at 40%

The Democrat gains ground
but the former Maui mayor wins
most former Case supporters

Both pleased with debate

By Richard Borreca

The race for governor is a straight-on tie, according to a new public opinion poll taken last week.

The Star-Bulletin/KITV survey shows that Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and Linda Lingle both have won 40 percent of the vote, with 18 percent saying they are undecided.

The poll, which was taken by Market Trends Pacific from Oct. 17-24 of 600 randomly selected likely voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

It was taken before the Friday night, live, televised debate between Hirono, the Democrat, and Lingle, the Republican.

The poll shows that Lingle's margin has slipped somewhat and Hirono's has climbed.

In a poll taken before the primary election on Sept. 21, Lingle had 43 percent and Hirono held 31 percent of the vote.

Last week's figures are close to the numbers four years ago when public opinion surveys had Gov. Ben Cayetano with 38 percent and Lingle with 42 percent, both within the margin of error. She ended up losing the race for governor in 1998 by 5,000 votes.

Since announcing she would run again, Lingle has never trailed in a public opinion survey.

"The fact that it is a dead heat is very encouraging," Hirono said. "Obviously, we are closing the gap and that's a good trend."

Lingle says she always figured the gap would close between her and the eventual Democratic candidate.

"I predicted from the beginning this would be a very close race and our campaign has been built around our feeling that the race would be close," Lingle said.

The poll shows dramatically different areas of support for the two candidates.

Hirono is picking up more than half of the vote from Americans of Japanese ancestry, with a sizable group saying they are undecided.

Hirono also had a majority of the Filipino-American voters, a voting group that before the primary was largely undecided and could be an important voting block in a close election.

Lingle, on the other hand, has a solid majority of the white vote, with few undecided.

Among older voters, another important voting group, because they are more likely to actually show up and vote, Hirono enjoys an edge over Lingle.

Lingle, however, is winning over the supporters of Rep. Ed Case, who narrowly lost the primary election to Hirono. More than half of the Case voters say they will vote for Lingle in the general election.

In the closing days of the campaign, both Lingle and Hirono are hoping to work on their separate strengths. Lingle says she will devote her time to moving undecided voters to her side and making sure that all her supporters actually do vote.

Lingle, who has run a carefully planned campaign designed not to make the mistakes that caused her to lose four years ago, says the campaign will use both letters targeted to specific audiences and grassroots rallies to help bring out the voters.

For instance, Lingle said, four years ago she didn't devote much time in the closing days to campaigning on her home island of Maui. This year, however, Lingle said she will have specific letters to remind Valley Isle voters that she was their mayor for eight years.

Hirono said she will spend the closing campaign days firming up support among the traditional Democratic supporters.

"I want to bring them home if they have left the field," Hirono said.

"And then I want to reach out to voters who are concerned about issues in the campaign," Hirono said. Hirono supporters say the important areas for her to win are in the Kalihi and Waipahu districts that are strongly Democratic.

The most dramatic area of support for Hirono is on Kauai, where the poll shows the Democratic lieutenant governor winning. Cayetano four years ago also easily won Kauai.

Lingle, however, held more than a majority of the support on her home base of Maui.

Star-Bulletin/KITV 4 News polls

Tonight: KITV 4 News looks at which issues are most strongly influencing your decision to vote for governor.

Tomorrow: The Star-Bulletin shows you whether you think there is too much negative campaigning in the governor's race.

Tomorrow night: KITV 4 News looks at who's ahead in the 2nd Congressional District race, the late Democratic U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink or Republican Bob McDermott.

Tuesday: The Star-Bulletin looks at how you rate Linda Lingle, James "Duke" Aiona, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and Sen. Matt Matsunaga.

Tuesday night: KITV 4 News shows you how familiar you are with the candidates for the Board of Education and whether you think you have enough information about them to make a good choice.



Lingle, Hirono eye
debate bounce

Both believe the TV forum won
more voters to their respective camps

By B.J. Reyes
Associated Press

The two women vying to become Hawaii's next governor returned to the campaign trail yesterday, boosted by their performances in the their first -- and so far only -- live, televised debate.

Election 2002

The campaigning crisscrossed the state with Democrats Mazie Hirono and Matt Matsunaga attending events on Molokai, Oahu and Maui, while Republicans Linda Lingle and James "Duke" Aiona spent their day campaigning on the Big Island.

"I think our campaign is pretty upbeat," Lingle campaign spokesman Lloyd Yonenaka said. "Everybody is pleased with the debate. I think it clearly showed the difference in the two candidates.

"It's pretty obvious that Hirono and Matsunaga represent the status quo and Lingle and Aiona represent a new beginning for Hawaii."

Hirono campaign spokeswoman Barbara Tanabe said her camp was equally excited.

"Mazie feels very positive about the debate," Tanabe said. "People have come up to her and congratulated her on a fine performance.

"They all said that they felt Mazie spoke from the heart -- that Mazie's sincerity and compassion for the people of Hawaii came through in the debate."

Each candidate emerged from Friday night's debate pleased with her performance.

During questioning from journalists, the television audience and each other, Lingle once again issued her call for change and reform to improve government while Hirono repeatedly touted her plan to try and grow the economy through public-private partnerships.

The exchange was mostly genteel, though each took turns criticizing the other's record while in public office.

Yonenaka said the Lingle camp already was starting to reap the benefits of her debate performance.

"There were some people who e-mailed in and said they were undecided before the debate and since the debate, they're going to be voting for Lingle," he said. "They said they specifically watched because they were undecided."

Tanabe said she also was confident that the lieutenant governor's message was well received by undecided voters.

"To speak in 60- and 30-second sound bites on issues you know so intimately is very difficult," Tanabe said, referring to the debate's format. "The key to the debate was that Mazie was able to project her compassion and her sincerity to get beyond this rhetoric."

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