It was 11:30-ish or so on Tuesday the 3rd of November when the first results of the Hawai‘i elections were finally released.
And, while some of the results were foretold by reported pollsters in October, the fact that the final results pretty much tracked the same as the pols were quite interesting.
So without further ado, some post-election analysis by PHwSF.
WHILE WE DON’T KNOW the final results of the national race for President of the United States, it’s apparent now that whatever predictions people had for this were in some cases wildly off.
Both sides’ cheerleaders – Trump and Biden – claimed that their candidate would blow out the other in the actual readout. What it turned out to be was that the race was a lot closer than anyone ever predicted. Whoever wins the race for the White House, once again they will win on the thinnest of margins, without a master mandate to “lead”.
The last President that was able to even claim that was Barak Obama, in winning his second term, and even then, it was a stretch.
Another read about the results of the Presidents race is that while there is a lot of hatred for President Trump, the idea that the whole country hates him so much to have a blow out for Biden was overly optimistic. Those who claim that the President is some sort of monster that needs to be removed and that the nation agrees with that seems to have missed the mark as to where the nation is on how they feel about the President.
A final read of this race is that whoever is President, they will deal with a House of Representatives that has fewer Democrats in it, and a Senate that is still in Republican hands. As we have come to find out about how the Senate works, whoever is in the majority make up the rules. So if (purportedly as of the writing of this) its Biden in the White House, the dreams of jamming through some of the legislation that he announced during the race may not come true.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN HAWAI‘I, the theme of the results for county races, and certain statewide races in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are that there are going to be new faces, and new ideas, coming to various governmental bodies.
Let’s start first with the Mayor of Honolulu. As the pollsters kept on saying in reports the last month of the race, Rick Blangiardi was ahead in the race over Keith Amemiya. In a post-electoral analysis, it seems that while both were new candidates, neither having run for office before, being new, and being desired were two different things.
While both promoted their “outsider” status, the voters felt that the line being said by Blangiardi was way more believable than when Amemiya said it. One source in the political world told me that when Amemiya got the endorsement of established political figures, like Senator Brian Schatz, that might have turned into a negative signal to voters to choose Amemiya.
I wrote about this way before the primaries in this piece.
Meanwhile, it seems that the people supporting Rick Blangiardi, while not loved in the past, have somewhat redeemed themselves in the interim. Backers like former Governor Linda Lingle and Ben Cayetano seems to have rehabilitated their reputation in the community and benefitted Blangiardi in the process.
There are probably a lot more reasons why Amemiya could not break out of his perennial second-place showing in both the primaries and in the pols that came out reporting on the race, afterward.
Blangiardi will have to now figure out how to work with a new City Council in which there are 2 political veterans, Tupola and Say, along with three new faces – Tulba, Cordero, and Kiaaina. All the races seemed more sleeper-ish than marquee in their presentation,
However, behind the scenes, there was a lot of activity happening. Unions and political groups were supporting candidates all over, From the unions backing Cordero to a hui of Councilmembers backing Will Espero, stakeholders seemed to find importance in putting in the time, and money, into City Council races.
The next thing that these new councilmembers (and the four still left) is who is going to be the next chair of the Council. Right now, all that can be said here is that it may be a competitive race between two determined Councilmembers (of the four that continue) to get that spot.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs race turned out to be a bit more interesting than usual.
Let’s start with the fact that Keli‘i Akina squeaked out a win over Keoni Souza. Souza from all reports was backed heavily by “establishment figures”, which comes as no surprise. Keli‘i has been, by all accounts, an independent thinker in OHA who continues to push for reform and audit of the Office.
The Hawai‘i County Trustee race was also interesting – Keola Lindsey vs. Joshua Lanakila Mangauil – as it pitted two candidates who had two very different views on Hawaiian issues.
First off this race, choosing the Hawai‘i Island trustee – was voted on by the entire state. That is why it was interesting to see that Lanakila’s supporters on O‘ahu were sign-waving at the State Capitol on election day. Keola’s people were out in Kapolei, doing the same thing. They both know where the votes would come from.
The second interesting observation is that those OHA candidates – both Akina and Lindsey – understood that they needed to expand their reach to non-Hawaiian communities to solicit their votes. This could be an interesting pivot for the Office that, perhaps, Hawaiian issues may also need to address the needs of the larger, non-Hawaiian population in Hawai‘i, especially when dealing with issues like land use.
We shall see if the new makeup of OHA foments that invitation to the non-Hawaiian community to collaborate.
As to the status of each of the main parties in Hawai‘i (and for the sake of discussion, I will throw in the newly named “Aloha ‘Āina Party”), there are a couple of observations.
From the conservative/Republican side, for the last few weeks, it seemed that there might be a heartbeat at the party. Convoys of cars and trucks supporting President Trump were seen around the island, with one Congressional candidate – Joe Akana – getting enough money to bring over a decked-out RV with his banner all over it.
The supporters even put together a group of the like-minded and gave them a title – Knights of Aloha – and held events, along with blending their efforts with the convoys flying the Trump flag. Final results though were in line with expectations – Democrat Joe Biden won the popular vote for Hawai‘i over Republican Donald Trump, 60-something percent to 30-something percent.
But the final results of the election show that the Republican/Trump/Knights of Aloha groups have a long way to go before Hawai‘i sees any sort of “Red Wave” politically. The party lost one seat in the House and didn’t grow any seats in the Senate. For each of the Congressional candidates, they weren’t able to break out of only getting 30-something percent of the vote. The best showing of a Republican challenger came from the Nānākuli/Wai‘anae House race, where perennial candidate Diamond Garcia came close but was not able to win over Democrat Stacelynn Eli, who will continue to sit in that seat for another 2 years.
As a promising new party in Hawai‘i, it seems that while the Aloha ‘Āina Party was able to field some candidates, but overall didn’t affect too much in the political realm of Hawai‘i. Going back to the Garcia/Eli race, the Aloha ‘Āina candidate did elicit 400 votes, which could have been the key to Eli winning over Garcia, as a third party typically takes votes from the challenger, and not the incumbent.
The Democrats, in the end, still stay firmly in charge of Hawai‘i. While there may be new faces in the elected seats, the overall infrastructure of who is running Hawai‘i stays generally the same.
And, in conclusion, paraphrasing the great broadcaster Walter Cronkite, “…and that’s the way it is”.