With anti-incumbent ire sweeping the country and Republicans
seeking major gains in midterm elections, November looks to be a
month of electoral upsets. In solidly-democratic Hawaii, the polls
indicate a Cinderella story in the making. The Honolulu Advertiser's Derrick DePledge
Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, a Republican, has the edge in the special
election for Hawai'i's first congressional district, providing the GOP with "the best opportunity in two decades to claim the urban
Honolulu district."According to the Ward Research poll, Djou leads his
dueling Democratic rivals with 36 percent while former congressman Ed
Case is chasing at 28 percent, and state Senate President Colleen
Hanabusa is trailing with 22 percent. Seeing shades of the Republican
resurgence in Massachusetts, journalists are asking: do Hawaii
Republicans have a chance of eking out a victory in one of the Union's
- Go, Plurality! Writing on PoliBlog, Steven Taylor sees a glimmer of victory in the
possibility of a plurality vote, which, according to the Advertiser
polls, would make Djou a winner. The competition between Democrats
"makes for an excellent example of how a party can damage itself by
making a nomination error, which in this case means having two Democrats
in the race," notes Taylor. "It is pretty clear that the district in
question is solidly a majority Democratic district, but two candidate
are splitting said vote."
- Go, Messaging! The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza notes that electoral
dynamics of the race could yield significant benefits for Djou in messaging. "The Advertiser poll suggests that the ongoing back and
forth between Hanabusa and Case is -- not surprisingly -- accruing to
Djou's benefit, allowing him to run as a non-partisan problem solver,
which is a great message in this climate."
- Go, Emotions! Dave Weigel thinks there's more to it
than electoral calculus. "First, activists raised the emotional stakes
by calling the district "Obama's home district." (He was born in
Honolulu.) Just like Scott Brown was able to excite conservatives with
the prospect of "taking Ted Kennedy's seat," Djou has dangled the
possibility of an embarrassment for the president -- something that
makes the otherwise modest goal of shrinking the Democrats' majority by
one seat sound more enticing," writes Weigel. "Second, activists rallied
when Djou was attacked -- especially D.C. activists...It's a simple
story of the conservative base engaging while the Democratic base
squabbles or sleeps."
- Go, Civil Unions? At The Weekly Standard, John
McCormack sees a potential boost for Djou in a piece of legislation: a
same-sex unions bill. McCormack believes that the introduction of a bill
that "has drawn some of the state's biggest protest rallies" will
mobilize support behind Djou, with the bills proponents split between
the two Democrat candidates. McCormack is almost dumbfounded: "Did the
Hawaii legislature just hand victory to Republican Charles Djou?"
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
jkeller at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.