Ige, Hanabusa votes follow the money

  • Gov. David Ige and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

HILO — The Big Island, especially West Hawaii and some areas in Puna, preferred U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa over incumbent Gov. David Ige in Saturday’s Democratic primary election.

A precinct-by-precinct analysis of Big Island votes showed, at least this election, the votes pretty much followed the money. There were no real surprises on the island come election day, as precinct votes closely tracked a July 29 West Hawaii Today/Tribune-Herald analysis of campaign contributions by ZIP code.


The money analysis looked at in-state contributions reported to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission between Sept. 1, when Hanabusa set up her state campaign fund, and June 30.

That’s despite cautions from several political analysts that contribution amounts aren’t a clear indicator of likely votes. The newspapers offered the analysis to get a glimpse at the candidates’ support base in a race that at the time was too close to call.

“I don’t know, it’s certainly looking to be, at least in hindsight this time, as a pretty strong predictor,” said Colin Moore, associate professor of political science and director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The ZIP code level money analysis showed Ige with strong money support in Hilo proper up to Honokaa, as well as Volcano, Naalehu and into South Kona. Hanabusa’s support base was in Puna and most of West Hawaii, including all of Kailua-Kona and Waimea.

Hanabusa held those same areas in votes as well, while Ige’s support base was strongly Hilo, according to the precinct analysis.

In fact, Ige held just East Hawaii House Districts 1, 2 and 3, and Hanabusa picked up the other four. In all, Hanabusa garnered 17,861 Big Island votes to Ige’s 17,709.

But Hanabusa voters’ enthusiasm, along with that of most Maui voters, wasn’t enough to overcome high Ige votes in Oahu population centers and the much smaller voter population of Kauai.

When all the ballots were counted, Ige had won by almost 17,000 votes, or 51 percent of the votes to Hanabusa’s 44 percent. He now faces Republican Andria Tupola and a few lesser party candidates in the Nov. 6 general election.

It’s understandable that voters in Puna precincts struck hardest by the lava flows from the Kilauea volcanic eruption and frustrated with emergency response might vote for someone other than the guy in charge. Mayor Harry Kim’s last-minute endorsement of Ige in a TV commercial with the crisis as a backdrop may have been too little, too late for those voters.

The question of why West Hawaii and North Hawaii precincts preferred Hanabusa with both money and votes, however, remains a mystery. Those areas had spurned Hanabusa in favor of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in her narrow loss in a storm-tossed 2014 primary.

“I’m surprised it was such an obvious difference,” Moore said. “The odd thing about this is that Hanabusa is seen as part of the old Democratic machine,” which could be seen as an oddity in an area with more recent settlers and part-time residents.

Hanabusa’s campaign team had little to add to help clear up the mystery.

“Congresswoman Hanabusa is focused on her work in Washington, D.C., during the final months of the 115th Congress,” her campaign staff said in an email. “She is supporting Gov. David Ige in the coming General Election.”

Nor did Ige’s.

“The governor worked very hard in every part of this state to reach as many voters as possible with his message of improving our public schools, environment, our economy and more,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “Governor Ige is extremely grateful to everyone who turned out to vote and will work hard to earn their support again this fall.”

Votes for Hanabusa and Ige in Big Island precincts


01-01 Honokaa High/Intermediate School, Cafeteria 455 435 890

01-02 Paauilo Elementary School, Cafeteria 158 205 363

01-03 Papaaloa Gym 209 193 402

01-04 Honohina Hongwanji, Social Hall 41 72 113

01-05 Kulaimano Community Center, Hall 351 316 667

01-06 Kalanianaole Elementary/Intermediate School, Cafeteria 244 275 519

01-07 Puueo Multi-Culture Center, Hall 218 251 469

01-08 Ernest B DeSilva Elementary School, Cafeteria 930 1,026 1,956

01-09 Kaumana Elementary School, Cafeteria 393 354 747

02-01 Hilo High School, Cafeteria 654 725 1,379

02-02 Edith Kanakaole Tennis Stadium 232 211 443

02-03 Keaukaha Elementary School, Cafeteria 272 196 468

02-04 Waiakea Elementary School, Cafeteria 1,117 1,082 2,199

02-05 Waiakea High School, Cafeteria 816 821 1,637

03-01 AJA Veterans Center, Hall 831 848 1,679

03-02 Keaau Elementary School, Cafeteria 96 88 184

03-03 Vote By Mail Precinct 20 37 57

03-04 Keaau Middle School, Cafeteria 751 782 1,533

03-05 Mountain View Elementary School, Cafeteria 382 359 741

03-06 Cooper Center, Community Center 292 522 814

03-07 Kau High School, Cafeteria 161 116 277

04-01 Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center 912 984 1,896

04-02 Keonepoko Elementary School, Cafeteria 365 392 757

04-03 Pahoa Community Center, Community Center 552 433 985

04-04 Pahoa Community Center, Community Center 420 369 789

05-01 Naalehu Elementary School, Cafeteria 229 194 423

05-02 Ocean View Community Center 315 235 550

05-03 Milolii Halau, Pavilion 93 108 201

05-04 Hookena Elementary School, Cafeteria 149 104 253

05-05 St Benedict Catholic Church, Lanai 111 128 239

05-06 Konawaena Elementary School, Cafeteria 603 545 1,148

05-07 Konawaena High School, Cafeteria 342 377 719

05-08 Kona Vistas Recreation Center 533 499 1,032

06-01 Holualoa Elementary School, Cafeteria 149 197 346

06-02 Kahakai Elementary School, Cafeteria 477 397 874

06-03 Kekuaokalani Gym at Kailua Park 439 434 873

06-04 Kealakehe High School, Cafeteria 575 463 1,038

06-05 Kona Palisades Community Center 364 368 732

07-01 Kealakehe Intermediate School, Cafeteria 195 225 420

07-02 Waikoloa Elementary School, Cafeteria 568 572 1,140

07-03 Kohala High School, Cafeteria 732 752 1,484

07-04 Waimea Elementary School, Cafeteria 827 766 1,593

07-05 Waimea Civic Center, Conference Room 288 253 541


TOTAL 17,861 17,709 35,570

Source: Hawaii state Office of Elections. Includes absentee mail-in votes, early votes and election day votes per precinct.