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Ian Lind • Now online daily from Old Kahala

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What are your favorite sources of election data and analysis?

November 7th, 2012 · 57 Comments


I’m still trying to digest the election results and what they might mean.

Detailed Hawaii results are available online at the office of elections website, including both a pdf file showing results down to the precinct level, as well as a data file that can be downloaded for further analysis, if you’ve got the computer savvy to do that.

I’m still looking for the best available analysis of the national election results. Share your favorite sites, please, both for straight data and political analysis. I think there are lots of people looking for both detail and context.

The strangest point last night was when Hawaii News Now talking heads were saying that election results were delayed, but on the screen data were being reported from several races, including one showing Charles Djou ahead of Colleen Hanabusa by about a 2-1 margin, if I recall correctly. We didn’t hear any explanation or comment, and it wasn’t much later that the first official local results were reported.

Weirdest headline today: “In the election for the 2nd District, Tulsi Gabbard thrashes homeless handyman Kawika Crowley “

Tags: Campaigns · Politics

57 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Richard Gozinya // Nov 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

    On the national scene it strikes me that Americans spent a lot of time and a whole giant pile of money to get to the same place we were at the beginning.

    Locally, the sole surprise to me was the margin of victory by Kirk Caldwell. But between the PRP hijack and the lack of paper ballots in selected areas, this one will be chewed on for a long time to come.

    Otherwise, pretty much predictable results, no? Somehow I am left feeling like I just want to take a shower and hear nothing more about elections or politics for a while.

  • 2 Wailau // Nov 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

    On an otherwise happy election night, it is profoundly depressing to contemplate that Pacific Resource Partnership’s smear worked against Ben Cayetano and what this portends for future campaigns. The virtual extinguishment of the Republican Party is another development giving one pause, but until it figures out a way to create a special Hawaiian version of conservatism which jettisons the ugly fundamentalist Christian strain which infects the national party, it is doomed to oblivion.

  • 3 cwd // Nov 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

    About ten days before the election, I got into a huge argument with a friend who not only lives in West O`ahu but also works there as well. I could not understand why he was so opposed to the rail system since he comes into town several times a week for social, entertainment, and political events spending upwards of $250 a month on gas – until I saw last weekend that HSTA was endorsing the person who lost the election. My friend represents his school and the district in the union’s leadership cadre so that’s why he opposes the train.

    I can understand why construction unions and blue collar public employee unions supporting the train, but why would the teachers’ union oppose it. Any realistic explanations?

  • 4 aikea808 // Nov 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Are you talking about the word choice, ‘thrashes’ or the fact that Tulsi won so handily? The latter isn’t weird – it was to be expected.

    I just read a smattering of results everywhere & then promptly forget it. Thinking individual precinct results matter more to campaign managers than peon voters such as myself.

    Disappointed with most of the outcome of this election but not surprised. This is Hawaii, after all.

  • 5 skeptical once again // Nov 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Americans complain about divided government, when the President belongs to one party and Congress is of the other party, and how nothing can get accomplished in the resulting paralysis.

    But Americans are the ones who create this situation because they like balance. Half of all Americans are moderates, and one quarter are liberals and one quarter are conservatives. When moderates feel like a President is leaning too much one way, they lean the other way in Congressional elections.

    For instance, back in the 1990s, gun control legislation was passed, and soon thereafter Republicans swept into power in Congress. Hillary Clinton immediately exclaimed that “I do not know what is going on in this country,” and the next day Bill Clinton stated that he knew what was going on: “We blew it.” Bill Clinton was a liberal politician who embraced modified conservative policies and used centrist language.

    In contrast, Obama is a pragmatic centrist who uses progressive language to mobilize his base. It’s his rhetoric, however, that is causing a backlash (and Obama doesn’t understand that, which is a sticking point between him and Bill Clinton).


    The irony for Hawaii is that Obama’s victory could mean that the Senate could lose its Democratic majority over the next four years. That would not result from a rejection of Obama’s policies, but from overexposure to Obama, and from Obama’s success at inculcating a certain leftist image. Also, after about six years of a sitting president, people get very weary of the guy, even of a charismatic guy like Reagan. It’s biorhythmic. So not now, but in two or three years, the Senate may go Republican, and this will have consequences for Hawaii.

  • 6 Natalie // Nov 7, 2012 at 9:45 am

    What I’d like to know is how did ballots for one district get delivered and USED in another?

  • 7 t // Nov 7, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Caldwell won by nearly 23,000 votes. the lack of paper ballots in some polls was ridiculous but not significant.

    Regarding the PRP ads, they were aggressive by Hawaii standards. But perspective is lacking. Mainland attack ads accused a Nevada Republican of voting against a Rape Crisis Center. (The Republican says his vote was based on other issues in the actual bill.)

    And Hawaii’s past is worth noting from a Dooley/Advertiser story: “A longtime influential figure in the Hawaii Democratic Party and past chairman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, Mehau was once accused by a Honolulu City Prosecutor’s aide of being the “godfather” of organized crime in Hawai’i, a charge that he adamantly denied. Mehau sued the prosecutor’s aide, Rick Reed, for libel and invasion of privacy, but a Circuit Court jury decided the case in Reed’s favor in 1992. Naone testified as a witness for Mehau in the trial.”

    Some fear that the door is now wide open for a new culture of mainland-style political attack in Hawaii.

    but i think this is a bit of a panic attack that is triggered by a very sensitive issue through the blessed and free United States:


  • 8 zzzzzz // Nov 7, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I don’t understand why some unions, like UPW and SHOPO, supported rail. Rail means transit takes a much bigger chunk of the C&C budget, which means less money for any union members not working in transit.

    I thought the HSTA was indirectly supporting rail because they hate Cayetano.

  • 9 Richard Gozinya // Nov 7, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I’m left puzzling what “rail done right” means. Is it that rail has been done wrong so far? Does that mean changes to staff?

  • 10 Hugh Clark // Nov 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    My formula was to apply life experience, reject endorsements of all kinds, the intrusion of all religious stuff and recognize a growing distaste of neg ads and a hope for future with my votes. (Boy do the foreign PACs take Hawaii cheap!

    I woke up as a voter feeing better after Big Island shed six of nine council members (and nearly retired a seventh).

    I foresee more competence and civility going forward.

  • 11 cwd // Nov 7, 2012 at 11:09 am

    The UPW members will provide a wide range of maintenance services while HGEA members will handle mid-level administrative & clerical services.

    Operational costs will be covered mostly by fares.

    However, the biggest savings will be in reducing the amount of money on fossil fuels sent out of state both by the bus system as well as private
    sector businesses.

    Of the current $7.2 BILLION sent out of state this past fiscal year for fossil fuets for all kinds of uses (airplanes & ships, electricity, buses, private vehicles etc.,) in all four counties(, had the train system been completed, O`ahu’s residents would have reduced that amount by $1.5 BILLION last fiscal year alone.

    In four years, that’s $6 BILLION which would have stayed in our pockets or spent on other City & County operational costs such as pothole repairs & parks maintenance.

  • 12 Gene Park // Nov 7, 2012 at 11:15 am

    There’s no denying the prevalence of PRP’s attack ads, but I don’t think they made much of a difference. Just anecdotal evidence here on my end, but a lot of voters weren’t even sure who was the pro-rail candidate. That’s how little some of Hawaii’s electorate pays attention to the issues.

    Also, Civil Beat’s poll showed that the ads had little impact on voter perspectives. Sure their poll was off this time around, but it was a pretty significant amount.

  • 13 Natalie // Nov 7, 2012 at 11:28 am

    “Operational costs will be covered mostly by fares.” On what basis are you making this statement? County taxpayers currently subsidize bus operations over 70%. My understanding is the train is expected to have similar subsidies.

  • 14 Kimo // Nov 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    There cannot be any excuse for running out of ballots anywhere. Simple math: X number of registered voters in a precinct, have available x number of ballots plus some extra for spoilage. Sorry, someone’s gotta be accountable for this one.

  • 15 ohiaforest3400 // Nov 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Ian, you don’t seem to have gotten very many answers to your question: sources of data.

    So here goes:

    (1) Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight blog at NYT. I watched hiom all thru the 2008 campaign and he nailed it. Just like he did this year. When my friends were ready to throw themselves ove a cliff after the Denver Debacle or the latest (mostly) irrelevant national poll, I told them to step back from the edge, take a deep breath and read Nate. Worked every time. The big national media pundits hated him because he didn’t have to rely on the 24 hour news cycle, irrelevant bloviations, and other drama with which they make their money. He’s a calm, nerdly statistician with a dry sense of humor. The numbers don’t lie. Just the facts, man.

    (2) Media Matters. Progressive review/fact check of media foolishness which seemed to be mostly owned by FOX this year.

    (3) Talking Points Memo. Again, progressive slant on the issues, stripped of their overt distortions, with some polling data.

    (4) Real Clear Politics. Very dense, visually busy site that aggregates a wide range of perspectives, with polling data.

  • 16 Kolea // Nov 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I do not understand why there were not enough ballots in the polling places. But here are some factors. The election officials cannot predict with accuracy how many voters are likely to show up at a specific polling place. The number of “registered voters” does not easily translate into the number of ballots necessary. Some precincts have a higher turnover of transient residents whose names will continue to show up on the rolls as registered voters.

    Even if election officials predict 50% of registered voters will turnout statewide, what is the particular history of turn out for each specific precinct. In addition, they are bound by law to provide ballots in a variety of languages needed by the residents in the district. About half the voters may opt to use the electronic voting machines, which can provide the variety of languages needed.

    We can easily insist election officials have a lot more ballots printed, in the right proportions of languages, than are likely to be needed in each precinct. But printing costs are a MAJOR variable cost for running elections. And the Office of Elections has been running on a very lean budget, so trying to reduce costs puts pressure on them to not print a lot more ballots than are needed.

    Having said all this, it is very understandable that candidates– and voters in the affected districts– want to be reassured that the election results are reliable–as reliable as they can be under the circumstances. In the special case of Green Party challenger Keiko Bonk, she does not have observers in the counting center to advocate for her interests, the way Democratic and Republican candidates do. And it is easy to understand how easy it might be for Bonk supporter to suspect a powerful Speaker has rigged the system against her. I don’t share those suspicions. But it is important elections are conducted with enough transparency that all observers will accept the results as valid.

  • 17 ohiaforest3400 // Nov 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Thank you, Gene, for making a point that people who, seemingly needing a world of villains and victims, don’t want to hear.

    I’ve been saying it for weeks: Cayetano’s numbers were not changed by the PRP campaign. He had 44% in the February Hawaii Poll before the campaign started and the same in July after it had been in full swing for months. He got 44%+ in the August primary and 42% in the October Hawaii Poll. He actually ticked up to 46% in the general.

    The only reason Cayetano came out of retirment and ran for mayor was because he couldn’t stop rail with legal maneuvers (yet). I don’t doubt the sincerity of his opposition to rail but by getting into the race for this reason, he turned it into a referendum on rail. His numbers matched the numbers on support for rail: low 50’s to mid 40’s. In the primary, pro-rail candidates Caldwell and Carlisle had low 50’s combined to Cayetano’s mid-40’s. Caldwell appeared to get all of Carlisle’s support in the general for a total in the low 50′ s and Cayetano got – again – in the mid-40’s.

    I hope Cayetano continues with the defamation suit if only because it may force disclosure of the names of PRP’s contributors. Absent an overruling of Citizens United, disclosure is the best tool we’ve got to make our choices. It will aslo permit us to use the power of the purse string to punish fat cats by spending our small dollars elsewhere.

    We need to have more faith in the voters and not pretend that we know what they’re thinking or how they can be manipulated. The Koch bothers, Sheldon Adelson, and Karl Rove spent hundred of millions of dollars to beat Barack Obama. What did the voters give them for their money? Four more years of Barack Obama!

  • 18 Kids Voting // Nov 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Depending on when you switched channels,
    you may have caught the Kids Voting results
    that showed Djou 2-1 over Hanabusa.

  • 19 Ian Lind // Nov 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    That makes sense.

  • 20 Ian Lind // Nov 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you. Excellent recommendations.

  • 21 Ian Lind // Nov 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Well said.

  • 22 Lopaka43 // Nov 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I read some place that another factor in the difficulty in forecasting how many ballots would be needed was the redistricting that took place.

  • 23 Laurie // Nov 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Aloha, your point is true, but President Obama succeeded in spite of that only because of the incredible organization and relentless field organizing. That organization was brilliant. I was lucky to be part of it for the 08 primary. Though I’ve volunteered for many campaigns, I’ve never seen anything as sophisticated, as smart, and as people-powered.

    Child care volunteers making a play area so parents can stay in line? Yes, we did. Pupu brigade so people will stay in line? Yes, we did that too, among many other thoughful, people-oriented kindnesses. It was for everybody.

    These people are excellent at this, I guess obviously. That we lived though the moneyball game doesn’t mean Citizens United shouldn’t be dumped ASAP.

  • 24 ppc // Nov 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Also, don’t forget about the state having to step in to take over the Big Island operation, that stretched the staff even thinner. Some Oahu staff had to go there, including the person who is usually in charge of ballots.

    There will never be 100% ballots printed, that would be a huge, huge waste of money and paper every election.

  • 25 Hawaiino // Nov 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    RCP is an asymmetrical aggregator. Better be prepared for a 70/30 bias towards, for the last few months, the “Reds”.
    (No, not Cincinnati , or China )
    That said, after the NYT that’s where I go for a wider range of topics/ essays.

  • 26 Claire // Nov 8, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I don’t think fares will cover operational costs of elevated rail, but if it is indeed driverless, I do expect operational costs to be better than what they are for the bus. Here’s why:


  • 27 Claire // Nov 8, 2012 at 2:58 am

    I’m also in agreement w/Gene and with cwd.

    “We need to have more faith in the voters and not pretend that we know what they’re thinking or how they can be manipulated. ”

    Heck, yes to that statement!

    No one has mentioned the Halloween traffic jam (that followed up the previous jam caused by the Aiea overpass incident), that gave many people a real sense of the flaws of at-grade transit (e.g., bus rapid transit). It was a very real impact for thousands of people who ended up sacrificing their personal plans with their families.

    So I think thousands of people (who were at the tipping point already) were mad enough to take that emotion with them when they voted…that’s my perspective from anecdotal evidence.

  • 28 paved // Nov 8, 2012 at 7:34 am

    But the whole point of this thread is that the local voters generally did not seem to know candidates’ positions on the rail project — or perhaps anything. The votes seemed to be based on personality and physical attractiveness. This seems to be especially evident with Tulsi Gabbard and Barack Obama.

  • 29 Patty // Nov 8, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I think that this union support of rail and Caldwell, will backfire on them in the future, when the future citizens realize the tragic destruction of the aina, Hawaiian values, and true cost with NO TRAFFIC RELIEF!

  • 30 cwd // Nov 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

    The OPERATIONAL costs of the transit system will be significantly less than running a fossil-fueled bus system with drivers along the 20 miles of the train route.

    HECO anticipates to have 30% of its electrical power system generated by renewables by the time the rail system is completed.

    Furthermore, it also expects to increase its renewable resources by 10% each year over the next decade once the train system begins.

    Affordable commercial buses are expected to be powered by fossil fuels for another 25 to 40 years. That will cost us Big Bucks on an annual basis well beyond what the fares will generate.

    Buses require drivers while the transit system will not so that will significantly reduce the operational costs as well.

    Yes, maintenance workers will need to be hired to keep the transit system working properly as well as to keep the stations cleaned, but the number of workers is expected to be about 30% lower than the current level along the same route.

    Remember, many of the stations will be located in places where transit-oriented development will take place so that a portion of the income generated by TOD will also go to the transit system’s operational costs.

    The major $$$ reductions are in two areas: The amount of money we send out of Hawai`i to fossil fuel corporations and to countries in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa as well as to Russia and Canada; reduce over time the amount of greenhouse gases we pour into the atmosphere and the impacts of climate change.

    It is sad that 20+ years ago, one person on the City Council changed her vote on the rail system. Today we’d have a system that would run from Hawaii Kai to Mililani, over Na Ko`olau to Kailua/Kane`ohe, and out to the south end of the Wai`anae Coast.

  • 31 Ian Lind // Nov 8, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I just think it’s very weird to be so matter of fact about the state Republican Party being reduced to getting behind a homeless handyman, and then reporting without irony that the homeless candidate was thrashed by the Democratic opponent.

  • 32 ohiaforest3400 // Nov 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Well, I don’t live in CD2 so I can’t say how/why I would have voted in that race. However, my vote for president had nothing to do with the physical appearance of the candidates.

    I voted for Barack Obama because I believe that, despite some missteps and the political obstructionists he faces, his policies are far closer to my own than were Romney’s (if Romney actually has any policies of his own, other than saying whatever is necessary to “close the deal”).

    If nothing else, Romney, his expedient, singular profit/loss view of the world , and his cadre of neo-cons and the failed policies they would reinstitute are horrid, reprehensible, and utterly unacceptable.

    Not that I have any opinion on the matter.

  • 33 ohiaforest3400 // Nov 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Agreed and should have so noted.

    However, I like to know what the other side is saying. Just as I took pleasure in watching Faux News/Fox Noise on election nite and seeing Karl Rove spin in the wind, like a man pitchforked to a barn wall without striking any vital organs, slowly but surely dying of exposure and exsanguination. May he one day die a death 1,000 times more painful than his patron saint, Lee Atwater.

  • 34 Kolea // Nov 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

    ; )

    (Nor I. Only added to allow the post of the smiley face).

  • 35 Kolea // Nov 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    That’s because Djou comes across as a smiley face cartoon character.

  • 36 t // Nov 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    that one person — who loved to say ALOHA ALOHA ALOHA —— later ended up in prison for theft. go figure.

  • 37 zzzzzz // Nov 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    It could also be partly because Djou has kids.

  • 38 zzzzzz // Nov 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Good point on the expense of printing ballots.

    However, there are a couple of obvious questions:

    1. Given the precinct specificity of the ballots, why weren’t all the ballots at the precincts?

    2. What was the backup plan in case they ran out of ballots? If it was electronic voting, shouldn’t they have been prepared to move machines from precincts that had enough paper ballots to ones that didn’t?

  • 39 Undecided // Nov 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I continue to object to this rail project and intend to continue to voice my objection.

    This is in response to numerous comments in public forums that express the opinion that “the anti-rail people need to let go; the people of Oahu have spoken. They want the rail to be built.”

    I would be less determined if there were not so many people who, to this day, incorrectly believe that building rail will result in less traffic than currently exists; and if there were not so many people who incorrectly believe that building rail will single-handedly avert a traffic “catastrophe” that would occur by the year 2030 without rail; and if there were not so many people who incorrectly believe that there is no alternative to rail that would do as much as rail to help traffic flow.

    A lot more people today know that rail isn’t what it was touted to be back in 2008, but that truth has not reached everyone. It doesn’t help that in 2012 we still have rail project representatives explaining rail’s “benefits” at public meetings in a way that leaves those in attendance believing that traffic with rail will be like “when school is not in session.”

    I would continue to object even if this rail project were to gain a greater number of votes in a clear referendum — if many of the votes in that referendum were cast by individuals inflicted with the aforementioned incorrect beliefs.

    Which raises the question, when is a supposed clear referendum on a particular issue not a clear referendum on that particular issue? And, does a majority of the people of Oahu really “want the rail to be built.”

    A khon reporter conducted a live morning interview with a worker at a Honolulu coffee shop the morning after the election.

    Reporter: What do you think of the rail project?

    April: Uh, I’m not a big fan of rail. I don’t think it’s really going to make a difference. I mean it doesn’t affect me too much because I do live on the windward side. Coming over here is a little out of my way. But…

    Reporter: But, when you voted, you voted for? I mean in the mayor’s race?

    April: I voted for Kirk Caldwell.

    Reporter: Who is for rail.

    April: Yes. But you know overall and generally, I think he’s a really nice guy, you know? He comes off really nice. I think he’ll do us good.

    Reporter: That’s interesting there, because I think a lot of us felt that, okay, people that voted for Caldwell because they wanted to see rail, while people vote for Cayetano the other way. But you just, you just wanted Caldwell as–

    April: Not so much. I didn’t base it on if I wanted rail or not. It was, you know, it comes down to the person, you know? How they are.

    Reporter: In this case, do you think as, over the years when this rail finally gets built, will you eventually you think grow to like it? I think the hope is that a lot of people who weren’t for rail will eventually accept it and eventually embrace it. Do you think you can?

    April: Yeah. I probably will. I mean, everyone has to change, You know, you have to try new things. I dunno.

    Reporter: And maybe even ride it, you think?

    April: I probably will ride it. Just to say I did.

    Reporter: Oh well good. We’re moving forward and you’re helping us do that. Thank you April. What do you recommend today?

    April: A Thai latte…

  • 40 Jim Loomis // Nov 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    It drives me crazy that the effect of transit on traffic congestion is always over-sold. Transit will not eliminate traffic congestion, but it does STABILIZE it at tolerable levels. As population increases and congestion worsens, more people switch to transit and congestion returns to that tolerable level. The key is that without transit the only solution is to construct more highways. With transit, all you have to do is add more trains.

  • 41 cwd // Nov 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Before I was old enough to vote and until 1996, I was actively involved in opposing H-3. I wasn’t even living in Windward O`ahu all of the 26+ years we battled against it.

    Once it opened, I thought that it was important not to use it for ethical reasons, but a year or so later, I changed my mind. I figured I paid for it so I might as well use it.

    These days, I drive it about four times a week throughout the year.

    The mass transit opponents are welcome to stay in their cars and sue the City for collecting $50 for every $10,000 they spend on GET-covered purchases to pay for the train system.

  • 42 Ian Lind // Nov 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    That’s about $500 for every $10,000, not $50.

  • 43 CiCi // Nov 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    .5% of $10,000 is indeed $50 unless both my brain and calculator are malfunctioning.

  • 44 Ian Lind // Nov 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    You are both right. I was just thinking of the whole GET paid, out of which the .005 OS carved out.

  • 45 Laurie // Nov 9, 2012 at 12:07 am


    Really wasn’t reading analysis in the moment, just catching what was going on.

    To that purpose, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/obama_vs_romney_create_your_own_electoral_college_map.html


    and for general info, Democraticunderground.com

    Thanks for posing the question, Ian.

    I like Electoral-vote.com for simplicity but his servers were crashing all night.

  • 46 Kolea // Nov 9, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I haven’t voted on Election Day for several cycles, so I may be in error. But my understanding is there is generally ONE eSlate DRE (“direct record electronic” voting machine) in most polling places. The state is REQUIRED by law to have at least one, to provide “accessibility” to handicapped voters.

    So they could not transfer a DRE from one precinct to another if that means the first location would not have one.

    The price of a DRE is roughly comparable to the price of the optical scanner which reads the ballots. An optical scanner can handle a LOT more voters per hour than a DRE. The limiting factor is the number of paper ballots. And pens.

    As for the ballots remaining at a centralized location, I suspect that has to do with maintaining a strict “chain of custody” of the ballots. Holding them in the counting center (or in another nearby facility) probably makes sense IF you have enough experienced staff to respond to requests from the field and coordinate timely deliveries. I suspect the loss of the experienced election workers sent to the Big Island may have been a factor in this string of failures.

    Over the years, from close up observation of their operations, I have developed a great deal of respect for the ability of the Office of Elections and county clerks to carry out a MASSIVE logistical operation, involving thousands of volunteers statewide, while avoiding shortcuts which would introduce vulnerabilities into the security and verifiability of the system.

    Anyone with a background in construction, in organizing a major event, in television or movie production should be in awe of what is accomplished in Hawaii during elections.

    What happened here is “inexcusable” in the sense it cannot be allowed to happen again. But my strong suspicion is that the core of experienced election workers, the “NCOs” who think on their feet, deal with the MANY problems as they arise and are responsible for holding the whole operation together “with baling wire and bubble gum,” were stretched to thin this year.

    A fair evaluation would have to consider whether the extra workload and expense of the Reapportionment Commission, most of which was borne by the Office of Elections staff, played a part in this.

    My experience of Scott Nago is that he is a straight shooter. He may be a bit grumpy sometimes and he may not be able to hear valid ideas when they arrive in the form of criticisms. But I expect he and the staff will come up with a detailed report of what happened and why, without excuses, so that it will not happen again.

  • 47 Kolea // Nov 9, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Jim, I do not believe the only alternative to THIS version of a train is to build more highways. At one time, the state and city were claiming the developments on the Ewa Plain would constitute a “Second City.”

    While I am a big fan of the real freedom one gets with transportation options, too often the metric is how to move a quantity of people how many miles rather than how to reduce the need for so many passenger miles.

    I am trying not to be utopian here. But we need to start looking at mixed use areas of dense population. “Transit Oriented Development” was pushed as part of the rationale behind the train. And the Governor is training to push through more density in the urban core, particularly in Kakaako.

    BUT, and this “but” is going to persist as a limiting factor for a long, long time, NOBODY TRUSTS ABERCROMBIE (or the other “City Fathers”) when they say ANYTHING. If TOD was the future goal, then why allow the development of Hoopili and Koa Ridge? Developers want to bust the 400 foot height limit in Honolulu. They have wanted to do that for decades. And Neil is determined to give it to them. Regardless of public opinion.

    When the developers want to build an overpriced train, they get it. When they want to build a too large highrise, they get it. When they want to build too close to the beach in Waikiki, they get it. When they want to continue suburban sprawl, even on some of the very best farmland in the state, they get that, too.

    We get told all sorts of evershifting rationales to convince enough of us to accept these projects, whether it is “Second City,” TOD or “new urbanism. But they are all PR slogans with no integrity behind them.

    If I sound cynical, that is a new attitude for me. But I am tired of being lied to again and again. It is no accident Neil’s popularity has plummeted as he has betrayed most of the constituencies who supported his election and appears totally unable to listen to those trying to save him from himself.

    The recent success of PRP in defaming Ben Cayetano deepens and broadens cynicism in the electorate. It is BS that the PRP ads did not work. I know people WANT to believe smear campaigns and negative ads do not work, but they are wrong. Not only is the candidate besmirched, but the candidate can easily be thrown off their game and become defensive, angry in response to the attacks.

    I think the PRP ads palyed a major role in Ben’s loss. Though I think he also made a serious mistake in allowing his campaign to become a proxy campaign for the Republican Party.

  • 48 zzzzzz // Nov 9, 2012 at 10:54 am

    That $50 out of $10k is just to build the system.

    Once rail is running, transit costs are projected to increase from, IIRC, ~10% to ~19% of the C&C budget, much of which comes from property taxes.

  • 49 zzzzzz // Nov 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

    “The key is that without transit the only solution is to construct more highways. ”

    That’s a common misconception based on too low a view.

    We also need to look at why people need to get from one point to another, and reduce that. The “Second City” is an attempt to do that, as are the Satellite City Halls. Building out UH West O’ahu will help. Some doctors have multiple offices so their patients don’t have to travel so far to be seen.

    But we need to do more. E.g., it costs a lot less to facilitate doing business over the phone or internet that to build roads to allow people to do business in person.

  • 50 Ian Lind // Nov 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head.

    The “second city” was supposed to reduce the need to commute into downtown Honolulu.

    And the UH West Oahu campus was supposed to give a local alternative so that Leeward kids could avoid the commute as well.

    Then the city pushes the rail project that appears to depend on more commuters to make keep it afloat.

    And, as you point out, instead of holding out for transit oriented development, we’re getting saddled with more large scale developments off the rail line.

    Developers want it both ways, and they want to benefit both ways.


  • 51 ohiaforest3400 // Nov 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Kolea, you’re one of my favorite posters and what you say almost always is persuasive to me, but I’m just not buying your asseertion that “It is BS that the PRP ads did not work. I know people WANT to believe smear campaigns and negative ads do not work, but they are wrong.”

    Evidence, please?

    Your assertion uis, to me, like Romney’s campaighn chair saying last weekend that Romney would get 300 electoral votes, or Dick Morris saying Romney would win in a landslide, or Karl Rove insisting that Romney had “the momentum.” None of these blowhards (of which you are NOT one!) cited any evuidence to support their assertions. Why? Because there was none!

    However, as I’ve said once, if not a thousand times, these past few weeks, we do have evidence that the PRP campaign had little or no effect on Ben’s numbers. Let’s freview: the first Hawaii Poll after he got into the race showed he had 44% support. The next Hawaii Poll was in July and the PRP camapign had been in full swing for months. What did Ben get? 44%. A few weeks later in the primary election. Ben got — you guessed it — 44%. Three more months of PRP and Benm a ctually improved to 46% in the general.

    Now, more can be parsed about the general (the influx of voters who did not vote in the primary, the disproportionate number of them being younger voters, etc.). And I don’t have the Civil Beat numbers at hand or committed to memory.

    But we do have theHawaii Poll numbers and, in the face of them, it just won’t do to make unsupported assertions to the contrary. Repeating them doesn’t make them any truer. Just ask Romney’s campaign chair, Dick Morris, or Karl Rove.

    Do you want to be like them or would you rather be factual, like Nate Silver?

  • 52 Undecided // Nov 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Right now I’m inclined to view the PRP ads as having worked remarkably well at holding Ben to what he already had. I don’t have definitive proof but could it not be that PRP’s near $3 million attack Ben campaign effectively moved most of the voters who were not solidly for Ben to the Caldwell camp? Thereby keeping Ben stuck with around the 44% he started with?

    Pretend you’re a typical voter who is unaware of the details to the rest of the story behind what was said in the smear campaign for a minute.

    Ben took illegal campaign contributions from his friends and later gave those friends no-bid contracts. Then, after the scandal broke, he retired from politics and refused to pay back the illegal contributions by hiding behind a technicality. Ben took $500,000 in illegal money. It’s in black and white.

    If that was all I had to go on, I sure wouldn’t feel inclined to vote for the guy.

    Voters saw and heard those commercials over and over and over. hmmm, I’m starting to wonder about the guy myself. What the heck was Ben’s cover story again? He didn’t get convicted and go to jail? Like I always say, there’s a separate justice system for the rich and powerful. Why if someone like me tried that it’d be p&j sandwiches for 10 to 20. And I read something about how Ben didn’t owe the money because he only escheated some of it or something. What the heck does that mean? That sounds like he’s admitting he’s guilty.

    And now he wants to be mayor?

    He even set loose all those dangerous criminals back out on our streets. Was that just lousy judgement, or were they connected to the right people? Criminals running wild, illegal donations, no-bid contracts . . . wait a minute . . . why is Cayetano not a rotten crook again? … oh yeah, I remember now.

    Sorry, it’s just that, I’ve only heard Ben’s side of the story a few times, and there were an awful awful lot of attack Ben commercials PRP put out. Seriously, I can see and hear them in my mind right now without having to close my eyes. How about you?

  • 53 Is this really true? // Nov 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    How can we determine if advertising influenced an election? That’s a very important question in the light of the Citizens United decision, because it’s not just a question of whether corporations are legal persons entitled to free speech, but more specifically whether or not commercials are free speech. It could be argued that, no, commercials by their nature are (annoyingly) forced by broadcasters upon the public (in contrast to speeches and books), are brief and unreflective, trade in cultural stereotypes and appeal to simple, powerful and often base emotions.

    The litmus test to find out if voters were influenced by brief emotional images versus complex arguments and issues might be to listen to the clarity of their responses when asked why they voted the way they did. If they state clearly that it was, say, the economy or foreign policy or character issues that shaped their decision, they are probably correct. But if they awkwardly hum and haw and explain their decision in a convoluted way, their vote might have been compromised by propaganda.

    I remember hearing about a local Democrat who voted to re-elect Nixon back in 1972. He was asked by his family decades later just why he did that. He gave a strange, vague answer with convoluted reasoning. “Well, I just felt like I needed to….” At an emotional level, he might have fallen for Nixon’s worldview that the hippies and the blacks would join forces and take over the United States, the Russians would invade Europe and a nuclear war would result. The brain tries to rationalize this welter of irrational anxieties, and the mouth starts to utter vague nonsense.

    This is so very different from the Lincoln-Douglas debates before the Civil War, where the stakes were so high and there was so much paranoia within the population, but the candidates’ discourse was civil and reasoned. The whole country followed the debates which were published at length in the newspapers, and even illiterate people would gather for readings of the debates. Those who voted back then might have been more likely to be able to articulate just why they voted the way they did, a situation so different from Hawaii today.

    Ultimately, they chose Abraham Lincoln, not someone like Kirk Caldwell.

  • 54 Undecided // Nov 10, 2012 at 12:39 am

    In taking another look at what I wrote, I see I’m neglecting to give Kirk Caldwell his due for the votes he would have gained even without assistance from PRP’s destroy the rail opponent’s reputation and scare the dickens out of any other office seeker who would dare defy us campaign. Other factors probably played a part as well. But look at it this way, the day after the election the SA said Caldwell won 155,664 votes to 133,154 for Cayetano. So all the PRP attack ads had to have done was transfer 11,256 votes from Cayetano to Caldwell to take the victory from Cayetano and deliver it to Caldwell. Or some combination of transferring votes and convincing some potential Cayetano voters to skip that part of the ballot would have done the trick as well. 11,256 votes. Roughly $2.8 million dollars worth of misleading ads. Lots of young voters and relative newcomers to Oahu. Well, my calculator doesn’t have a function for that, but just off the top of my head, that seems to comes out to a victory for the Waipahu boy from Hilo or whatever. Of course, the internal abacus’ of others may differ.

  • 55 Undecided // Nov 10, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I think I may now have proof that PRP’s attack ads worked at least once. I’ve found someone who seems to have been completely duped. Does this from the SA sound familiar to anyone?


    The most spirited exchange occurred near the end of the program, over a secondary issue: an ad campaign against Cayetano focused on his previous campaign’s failure to repay $500,000 in campaign funds that were donated illegally. Although Cayetano did nothing illegal, the pro-rail group Pacific Resource Partnership has financed an ad campaign suggesting he exploited a loophole to get out of repaying the money.

    Cayetano, after noting that Caldwell previously said he had donated to the former governor’s campaign, asked his opponent whether he felt the allegations were fair.

    “It was mainly all spent before the Campaign Spending Commission found out about it, and Ben is saying that’s OK,” Caldwell said. “Ben, that’s not OK with me.”


    That’s one vote right there. Only 11,255 to go.

  • 56 Kolea // Nov 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm


    No. YOU are one of MY favorite posters!

    HST (“Harry S. Truman”? No, “having said that…”),

    “Ouch.” Compared to Dick Morris, Karl Rove? And coming from you? Ouch, ouch, ouch.

    “Undecided” says a lot of things I am not sure I agree with. But the argument that the PRP money kept Ben’s support frozen and caused the Carlisle voters to go to Kirk strikes me as eminently reasonable. I suspect I could dig up some earlier comment of mine, but even prior to the primary, I predicted Ben was going to get the most votes, but probably not enough to win outright. (Nothing insightful about that prediction).

    The question then would be where the losing candiate’s votes would go. If Carlisle came in second, I thought Kirk’s votes would split between Ben and Carlisle, probably enough for Ben to win in the general. I figured enough of Kirk’s supporters would, as Democrats, still feel some rapport with Ben over Carlislse.

    If, on the other hand, Kirk were to come in second, I expected most of Carlisle’s voters to go to Kirk, based upon their pro-rail orientation. Well, Kirk DID come in second and the Carlisle voters DID tend towards Kirk.

    But Kirk is more strongly associated with the Old Guard Democrats and not all of Carlisle’s supporters were Democratic. With Ben cozying up to Republicans, surely some of Carlisle’s supoorters would entertain the prospect of voting for Ben instead of the Uber-Dem, Kirk?

    So Ben was smeared by the PRP as if he were a major corrupt force in Hawaii politics. Ironic, of course, for those of us familiar with the networks at work in the Party who have long benefited from the “pay to play” system and who lined up behind Kirk. Heck, the entire Train project was largely motivated by the “pay to play” system of building overly costly project, routing contracts to engineering, architectural and construction firms and getting back campaign contributions as payback. “Transportation policy” and “urban planning” were secondary or tertiary as driving forces.

    Voters understood that and that is why they rejected Mufi, first as Governor and then as Congresscritter.

    Yes, if you attack someone over and over as crooked, it is going to hurt them among uninformed voters. Kirk, of course, kept his hands clean as if wearing dainty white gloves. But he benefited. It helps that he is more likable than Mufi and more “trustworthy” in most voters eyes.

    So far, I don’t think the analysis I have put forth here is different from a lot of other people. Sorry I can’t provide the numbers a Nate Silver does with his polling. But where do you think someone could find “numbers” which could prove or disprove why Ben’s numbers remained unchanged from the primary? To me, one of the funnest challenges is in trying to figure how to test a theory. It gets back to Karl Popper. How would one test to see if a proposition is false? If it is impossible to test for its falseness, how can we say it is true?

    Neither you nor I appear to have data which can support alternate explanations for Ben’s failure to rise above his primary proportion. I did not JUST mention the PRP ads. I also mentioned, and I think this is important, Ben’s excessive identification/association with Republicans. I think the PRP attack on Ben as being too close to Republicans was effective. They PUT MONEY on its effectiveness. And I think they were right. A lot of Democrats, not happy with the Train, were uncomfortable with Ben surrounding himself with Tea Party activists. Everytime we drove by a house with Lingle, Djou and Cayetano signs, it grated on us.

    When the anti-rail movement began, it was totally dominated by the Cliff Slater, Sam Slom, Eric Ryan, Tom Berg wing of the Republican Party. That was its strength, in a narrow sense and that was its limiting factor. It was only when the Outdoor Cicle, the LWV, the architects and, finally, Ben Cayetano, started speaking out against the Train that regular folks started expressing their reservations openly. It became OK to be a Democrat or a moderate, an NPR listener and oppose the Train.

    But the Tea Party voices who learned to still their voices on the anti-train effort became agitated, a=excited and loud-mouthed once again in support of Ben’s campaign. And Ben got engulfed by them. They used Ben’s campaign and gave it a reactionary, anti-Democratic image which was counter-productive.

    I LOVE Nate Silver. He kept me sane for the two months leading up to the election. I WISH I were anywhere near as smart as him or had the numbers to construct convincing arguments for you. But I am unaware of a pool of existing data which would make that possible.

    warm regards,


  • 57 "... and I'm a Mormon." // Nov 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    On the day before the election, I got a Djou flyer, and it was conspicuous in that it consisted mostly of five or six photographs of him with his family in casual dress. In the previous election he was shown in military uniform or in suit and tie. He seems to have very slowly come around to recognize Hawaii’s brand of family-oriented conservatism. I guess that from here on, if he stays in politics, he will tone down the mainland-style rhetoric of nationalism and free-market economics.

    If you read the comments in Ian Lind’s Hawaii Monitor in CB, you can find suggestions from across the political spectrum on how to create an alternative to the Democratic Party’s monopoly in Hawaii.


    One tactic mentioned would be to create a new party, either a new leftist party, like the Greens, or a new rightist party of some sort that does not have the local stigma of the GOP.

    That may not work. Panos Prevodorous pointed out that when he went from running in elections as an independent to running as a Republican, it was like going from riding a moped to riding the bus. Big improvement. But, he said, the bus can never catch up to the race car that is the Democratic Party.

    One tactic might be to re-brand the Republican Party in Hawaii. You can see this at the national level with the TV commercials featuring young people who one would think were typical Democrats who state at the end of the commercial “… and I’m a Mormon.” We’ll see if those commercials are still around after this election, because my suspicion is that this is a belated attempt to re-brand Mitt Romney into less of a 1950s-style candidate (much like Djou’s family portraits in my mailbox).

    One of the comments on the Hawaii Monitor article stated that more locals would vote for particular Republican candidates who rejected a kind of toxic religious cultural conservatism. Perhaps a Republican candidate could embrace the family-oriented cultural conservatism that Djou’s flyer advertised. Also, they would have to abandon the kind of stark free-market economics Djou still espouses.

    Is that possible? Perhaps it can be argued that every successful Republican in Hawaii’s history did just that. Lingle is but the most recent example of this. It’s plenty easy to get elected as a Republican in this town if you just present yourself a certain way.

    That’s not the issue. The issue is that none of the Republicans do this – including Djou. Whether it is economics or religion, they all have the tinge of the fanatic. And fanatics don’t listen. They don’t listen and they just don’t have a clue.

    But the funny thing is that back in the 1960s, it was the leftists who were fanatics and it was Establishment figures who were the cynical pragmatists who cut backroom deals. But at least the corrupt pragmatists listen to actual human beings who have problems. And this image of the fat cats who have no principles but who are savvy and who listen describes the Democratic Party in Hawaii. If you have a big problem, Dan Inouye will at least take the time to listen to you and try to help by negotiating some sort of compromise in the power structure. Ed Case doesn’t listen, he’ll give you a sermon. So in the local mind, Ed Case has become a virtual Republican – or worse, a crazy mainland fanatic like Abercrombie. But Abercrombie could reshape his image, and had the determination and smarts to do so. Case and Djou might not have that.

    So it might not be an ideological problem Republicans have. The problem instead might be the persona that a lot of politicians in general in Hawaii might have (even respected local Democratic politicians like Esther Kiaaina), that they are outsiders who live in their own fanatical fantasy world (even though Esther Kiaaina is uniquely knowledgeable).

    But so many Republicans in Hawaii do live in a fanatical fantasy world. They deserve not to get elected. The problem is that so many of the mainstream Democrats in Hawaii have become the exact opposite: amoral and incompetent hacks who maintain only the pretense of ideology. That’s what happens to any organization (businesses, religions, etc.) when there is no competition. The Gabbards may scare some people, but they have helped to rejuvenate Hawaii politics a little bit not by imposing some bizarre agenda (which is what they once tried to do), but because they actually do have beliefs and some common sense, and have the flexibility enough to compete successfully.

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