Poll: Republican Charles Djou Leads in Hawaii

It's going to be tough for Democrats to retain control of Hawaii's first congressional district, according to a new poll from The Honolulu Advertiser and Hawai'i News Now.

Republican Charles Djou leads with 36 percent, while former Democratic Rep. Ed Case trails with 28 percent and fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa ranks third at 22 percent. (The survey was conducted by Ward Research of Honolulu; a relatively small sample of 349 likely voters were polled, and the margin of error was +/5.2 percent.)

This is a three-way race featuring two Democrats, and it appears they could split the vote, opening the door to a GOP victory. This is the district, by the way, where President Obama grew up, and it's solidly Democratic; if Republicans win, we'll probably hear about the Obama-home-district symbolism. It would be a nice trophy for the GOP (even if the two Democrats collect, say 58, percent of the vote in the three-way race).

The vote will be held May 22, so there's time yet for momentum to shift, in any of the three directions.

The Washington-based Democratic establishment seems to favor Case, as Politico reported in early April that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was quietly helping him. Hawaii's two senior-most political figures, Democratic Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, favor Hanabusa.

There's a chance Hanabusa will finish stronger than she polls:: 13 percent are undecided, and a Hawaii Democrat tells me that undecided voters in Hawaii tend to be native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Japanese American, and seniors over 65--not sure why this is--and if identity politics have anything to do with it, they'd be more prone to backing Hanabusa.groups that have historically backed Japanese American candidates like Hanabusa in the state.