Round II of Djou vs. Hanabusa is tight, but the Democrat appears positioned to take back the seat, according to a new Civil Beat poll.

Colleen Hanabusa is up 49.5 percent to 45.3 against against incumbent 1st District Congressman Charles Djou, an automated telephone poll of 620 likely voters found. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent.

“This is one of the few seats that Democrats can reasonably expect to flip nationwide,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted the poll on Oct. 23 through its Hawaii subsidiary, Aloha Vote.

Among the reasons the poll indicates a victory for Hanabusa, Fitch said, are that of the 4.4 percent of voters who say they’re still undecided, 74 percent view President Obama’s job performance positively, while just 3 percent view it negatively. Voters who support Obama are overwhelmingly backing Hanabusa.

Hanabusa has also been able to win the support of people who voted for Ed Case, the other Democratic candidate in the May 22 special election won by Djou to complete the term of now-governor candidate Neil Abercrombie. They are backing Hanabusa by a 2-1 margin.

Hanabusa will also benefit from being on the ballot with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Abercrombie, the longtime holder of the seat she wants, Fitch said.

The poll makes clear that Djou is riding the wave of anger against Obama, but the problem for the former Honolulu City Coucilmember is that the president remains popular in Hawaii. His positive job performance rating has hovered at 62 percent since early spring. Of those who disapprove of Obama, 92.2 percent are backing Djou.

Those statistics are also reflected in the results of a question about the direction of the country. Hawaii has a much different view than the national picture, with 56.7 percent here saying it’s going in a positive direction vs. a national figure of 31.8 percent.

Of the voters who think the country’s direction is positive, 75.6 percent are voting for Hanabusa. But 86.4 percent of those who view the direction negatively are on Djou’s side.

It appears that the anti-Democrat tide on the mainland may not be strong enough in Hawaii to let Djou hold onto his job.

“With an unpopular Republican governor and Obama still popular in Hawaii, she’s positioned well to take this seat, albeit narrowly,” Fitch said. “He may be remembered as an accidental congressman because there were two Democrats running against him (in the special election).”

Hanabusa has a slight edge among both men and women, with 49.0 percent of female voters backing her, while 45.8 are going for Djou. They’re tied among men, with 48.3 percent supporting Hanabusa and 47.8 choosing Djou. Djou wins handily among white voters, 57.2 percent to 39.9 percent, and among voters who say they’re of two or more races, 61.4 to 27.3. But Hanabusa dominates with Asian voters, 56.8 to 38.7. She overwhelms Djou among Japanese, with 66.2 percent vs. 31.0 percent for Djou.

Djou has made a point of stressing his independence as a politician, and cast Hanabusa as a rubber stamp for Democratic leaders. That appears to have worked among independent voters, with 56.3 opting for Djou and 36.6 picking Hanabusa. He also picks up 83.3 percent of Tea Party voters, a group that has endorsed him, although Djou says he’s not a member.

Senator Inouye Gliding to Re-election

The poll showed the 86-year-old Democrat leading his Republican challenger, Cam Cavasso, 62.7 percent to 30.6 percent, with 5.1 percent undecided. Inouye is doing equally well in Hawaii’s two Congressional districts, with 62.9 percent of the vote in the first and 62.6 percent in the second.

Of those who support Inouye, 89.9 percent say it’s because they view the senator positively. The formula is reversed for Cavasso, with 58.7 percent of his supporters opting for him because they have a negative view of Inouye.

Of those who have a positive view of the direction of the country, 85.8 percent are choosing Inouye and just 10.9 percent Cavasso. Of those with a negative view, 27.8 percent still stick with Inouye, while 62.8 percent opt for Cavasso.

Inouye does equally well among men and women, at 62.9 percent and 62.3 percent respectively. He also crushes his opponent when it comes to all races, especially Asians, 73.5 percent of whom are voting for Inouye. The only religious group to choose the Republican candidate over Inouye are evangelicals, 53.7 percent of whom say they’ll vote for Cavasso vs. 42.9 for Inouye. Cavasso also wins among Republicans and Tea Party voters, with 72.6 percent of the former and 73.8 percent of the latter.

The margin of error for the Inouye race is +/- 2.9 percent, based on a sample of 1,181 likely voters.

Hirono On Track

In the 2nd Congressional District, Democratic Congresswoman Mazie Hirono is cruising toward a third term, leading Sarah Palin-backed Tea Party candidate John Willoughby 58.6 percent to 35.1 percent, with 5 percent undecided.

The survey of 561 likely voters in the 2nd district has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent. The vote again splits along a divide based on attitudes toward Obama’s job performance, with 84.1 percent of those who approve backing Hirono and 81.4 percent of those who disapprove picking Willoughby. The problem for Willoughby is that 62 of likely voters approve of the job Obama is doing.

The same divide is reflected in attitudes toward the direction of the country, with 84.9 percent of those with a positive view supporting Hirono and 74 percent of those with a negative view behind Willoughby. Again, though, the problem is that Hawaii voters have a much more positive view of the president than does the rest of the nation.

Hirono is crushing Willoughby among women, 60.5 percent to 33.7 percent. Hirono is also strong among men, 56.9 percent to 37.6 percent. Hirono also beats Willoughby with every racial group.

The problem for the Republican opponents of Inouye and Hirono is that GOP supporters are putting their money and efforts into races with more possibility of victory, Aiona’s and Djou’s.

“To take out an incumbent, it’s almost like a hurricane forming,” Fitch said. “You need a lot of energy. Whatever energy for Republican causes that exists in Hawaii is being drawn to Aiona and Djou and that leaves Willoughby and Cavasso stranded.”

Coming Thursday: The Board of Education Amendment

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