Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle likes to say that he calls ’em like he sees ’em.

But apparently the public isn’t quite so sure of itself when it comes to Carlisle.

The Civil Beat Poll found that 25 percent of likely voters on Oahu still haven’t formed an opinion about Carlisle’s job performance during the past year.

Civil Beat interviewed 901 likely voters on Oahu on Oct. 20 and 23 using automated telephone technology. The sampling margin of error is +/- 3 percent.

The poll found that 39 percent of likely voters have a positive opinion of Carlisle’s job performance, while 36 percent have a negative opinion.

Carlisle’s ratings are better than Gov. Neil Abercrombie‘s, 24 percent, but far lower than President Barack Obama’s, 63 percent.

However he might not want to take too much comfort in his approval ratings, because The Civil Beat Poll found that more people thought he was doing a worse job as mayor than they expected when he was elected last year.

Just 26 percent of likely voters said the mayor is doing a better job than they expected, with 36 percent saying he was doing a worse job. Twenty-two percent said he was doing about the same as they expected, and 16 percent were unsure.

The number of people unsure about what they think about Carlisle’s performance stands out for a number of reasons.

The figure is much higher than for Gov. Abercrombie or President Obama, for whom the number was 13 and 5 respectively. That’s surprising in part because Carlisle served as the Honolulu prosecutor for more than 13 years before running for mayor. He was re-elected to the high-profile position three times.

The percentage of voters still unsure about him means that there’s a large group of voters whose minds are not made up heading into the 2012 election. Carlisle must run again so soon because he won a special election in September 2010 to fill the remainder of the term of former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who had resigned to run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Carlisle won that special election with 39 percent of the vote, an identical number to his approval rating today. His nearest competitor, Kirk Caldwell, picked up 35 percent, while the third-place candidate, Panos Prevedouros, got 19 percent. Prevedouros has already made clear that he’s going to run for mayor in 2012, while Caldwell hasn’t stated his plans, except to say that he wants to be in a position to serve the public.

Other interesting findings about Carlisle include:

  • People who approve of Obama’s job performance are also more likely to have a positive opinion of Carlisle. Carlisle was a Republican and ran for mayor touting a conservative fiscal stance. Yet 45 percent of people who approve of Obama have a positive opinion of Carlisle’s performance in office, with 32 percent negative and 23 percent unsure.
  • People who have a positive impression of Carlisle are more likely to think that things in Hawaii are generally going in the right direction, 41 percent vs. just 16 percent for people who think that things in Hawaii are not going in the right direction.

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