Sabato's Crystal Ball

Hawaii (01) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Colleen Hanabusa, state Senator

Republican candidate: Charles Djou, incumbent

Recent Updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 5, 2010

The only Republican-held seat where we are making a rating change this week is the Hawaii seat of Charles Djou. Djou won a surprising special election victory earlier this year when two serious Democrats were on the ballot opposing him, due to the peculiar voting procedure in place. This November he will be facing just one of his May opponents, state senator Colleen Hanabusa, eliminating the possibility that he could win by default with a split Democratic vote. While Obama won 70% of the vote here in 2008, Djou supporters point out that it was Obama’s birthplace and claim that favored-son status, more than Democratic sentiment, was the cause for his margin of victory. As evidence they cite the much closer 2004 presidential election where the Democrat, John Kerry, topped Republican George W. Bush by just 6%, hardly a sign of a deep Democratic district. Djou’s internal polling backs up this argument, showing him at 50%, and leading Hanabusa by 8%. While it first looked like this seat might remain in Republican hands for only a matter of months, it is now certainly possible that Djou could hold on, prompting the Crystal Ball rating to change from Leans D to Toss-Up.

Background:

Hawaii’s 1st District is an open race in 2010 after current Democratic incumbent Neil Abercrombie decided to step down to run for governor. At this moment, Former Democratic Congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa are facing off in the Democratic primary while Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou stands alone in the Republican field.  The 1st is a staunchly Democratic district where a Republican has only held office for 4 out of the past 38 years. Consistent Democratic presidential victories throughout the decades culminated in a staggering 70-percent vote for native son Barack Obama in 2008. Even though Djou received the endorsement of the state’s Republican establishment under Republican Governor Linda Lingle, it is difficult to believe that a Republican could carry the day and surf to victory against either of the two qualified Democratic candidates in this Democratic bastion.