The R2K/Daily Kos poll of the Hawaii special election shows that the peculiar manner by which the election will be decided does present an opportunity for Republican Charles Djou to take the seat, at least in the short term.
Djou, a Honolulu City Councilman and the only major Republican in the race, has a within-the-margin-of-error lead over Democrats Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa. He only gets 32% of the vote, but because the special election runs under no-primary, first-past-the-post rules, he would be able to win. Democrats Steve Young and Francine Busby got the most votes in the first round in special elections in California in 2005 and 2006; under these rules, they both would have been in Congress. But both lost when the top vote-getters in each party advanced to the general election.
The thing about Djou is that his hold on the seat would be short-lived, in all likelihood. He’d have to win the general election in number, and that race does not use the same rules. So a Democratic challenger, which would have to go through a primary, would be heavily favored to take back the seat. There are propagandistic reasons why Republicans would welcome a Djou victory, but they would be short-lived.
Therefore, there’s no reason to move heaven and earth to put LieberDem Ed Case into that seat to prevent Charles Djou’s anomalous six months in the minority. It makes far more sense to get a decent Democrat in there in November.
UPDATE: This is interesting, from CQ:
Cultural sensitivity when doing surveys in Hawaii is so nuanced that one pollster commented that polling there is more like Japan than in any other part of the United States.
First of all, many survey participants — particularly Japanese-Americans — will say they are undecided when they are questioned about their voting preferences.
“And that’s not true,” said Dan Boylan, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii. “They just won’t tell a person with a disembodied voice on the phone how they’re voting.”
Japanese-American women, especially, tend to be underrepresented in polling because they decline to answer — a circumstance that Boylan argued could give Hanabusa an edge in the race.
“Let’s say there is 15 to 20 [percent] undecided, I would cut that in half in favor of Hanabusa,” Boylan said.