Neil Abercrombie is running unopposed for re-election.

But new a survey may give hope to potential Democrat or Republican challengers.

A Civil Beat Poll shows that 48 percent of registered voters disapprove of his job performance while just 45 percent approve.

With a 3.3 percent margin of error, that works out to an equal number of supporters and detractors. Just 7 percent of voters are undecided.

It doesn’t help the governor, either, that more voters said Hawaii is going in the wrong direction (46 percent) than the right one (38 percent).

Still, there is one bit of good news in the new data: Abercrombie’s approval rating is about where it was in January, when Civil Beat last conducted a survey. In other words, he hasn’t seen his numbers drop.

“Gov. Abercrombie would probably be the first to tell you that it is a lot harder to govern than it is to legislate, and with little more than a year to re-election his numbers seem to be holding steady,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted the Civil Beat Poll.

Pointing out that the governor’s numbers have improved since his rough first year in office, Fitch said, “It’s obviously been a challenging three years politically, but given Hawaii’s Democratic Party tendencies and the governor’s experience as a campaigner, there are a lot of reasons to think that he can improve on the numbers from what they are now.”

Middling Marks

The Civil Beat Poll was conducted in mid to late June. Merriman randomly surveyed 869 registered voters using touch-tone polling; 78 percent of the calls were to landlines, 22 percent to cell phones. Cell phones are called by an operator who asks the person who answers if they would like to participate in the survey.

On Monday, Civil Beat reported on the close race between Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa for U.S. Senate. Later this week we will publish stories on how voters feel about gun control proposals, a ballot initiative system, holding Memorial Day on May 30 and other issues.

Courtesy Abercrombie Administration

Animal protection bill signing, June 26.

Despite the overall middling marks for Abercrombie, there are some groups he did well with in our poll: Latinos and especially Filipinos, those that call themselves Democrats or progressive or liberal, those who make less than $50,000 a year and those who hold only a high school degree or no degree at all.

But there are groups that are not crazy about Abercrombie, and they include Caucasians and Chinese, those with college and graduate degrees, and those making over $50,000 but not more than $100,000. Conservatives and Republicans don’t care for the governor, either, but for the man who is the titular head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, that has to be considered a badge of honor.

One other possible concern for the governor: Voters who said they belonged to a labor union or had family members in unions disapproved of Abercrombie’s performance, 52 percent to 43 percent.

Some labor groups are said to be trying to find a suitable Democrat to challenge Abercrombie in the Aug. 9, 2014, primary. These groups still feel burned by the governor, in part because of his imposition of a contract on the Hawaii State Teachers Association, a contentious situation that was only resolved this spring.

Courtesy Abercrombie Adminstration

School readiness bill signing, June 24.

It’s worth pointing out that the Hawaii Government Employees Association last month also gave an early endorsement to Schatz in his re-election bid and said nothing about the governor, the man who appointed his own lieutenant governor to the Senate.

Yet, with public sector unions including the HSTA and HGEA winning back pay and benefit cuts and receiving new contracts, it’s not clear whether there is sufficient union angst to unseat a sitting governor. Especially with an economy in slow but steady growth mode.

Then again, the middling poll numbers for the governor might cause his campaign some concern, given that he launched his re-election in April — twice, actually — and ended the legislative session in May with some notable policy victories. Maybe that’s why the administration has recently been holding an unprecedented number of bill signings that feature the governor surrounded by happy constituents (and dogs and keiki).

Speaking of happy constituents: Civil Beat also polled how voters view President Barack Obama’s job performance, and it’s obvious that Hawaii still loves its keiki o ka aina in the White House. A remarkable 68 percent of the local voters we surveyed approve of Obama, a figure some 20 percentage points higher than most national polls that reflect the president’s struggles during a rough spell of scandals and legislative setbacks.

Not surprisingly, the only people who said they disapprove or the president’s job performance identified themselves as conservatives or Republicans.

Click here for our full poll including questions, results and crosstabs here.

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