Rail is the most important issue for a majority of likely voters in Honolulu’s mayoral election, according to The Civil Beat Poll.

Fifty-three percent of likely voters say rail will be the most important issue for them when they decide whom to support for mayor in the Aug. 11 election, the poll found. The only other issues that made it into double digit percentages were infrastructure and the economy, at 18 percent and 16 percent respectively.

The automated telephone survey asked voters: “What issue will be most important to you in making your choice for Mayor? Is it homelessness? The local economy? The Honolulu rail project? Improving infrastructure, including roads, water, and sewers? Local taxes and fees? Or something else?”

The poll of 1,172 likely voters conducted on Feb. 26 and 27 has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent1.

One interesting finding is that while Ben Cayetano has been criticized as a one-issue candidate because of his anti-rail position, the poll shows him leading on every issue. The former Democratic governor is challenging Mayor Peter Carlisle. Former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell also has entered the race.

Cayetano has 68 percent of the votes of those who said rail will be the most important issue in determining their vote, compared with 18 percent for Carlisle and 11 percent for Caldwell.

But he also led when when it came to the economy, infrastructure, taxes/fees, homelessness and something else.

While homelessness garners a lot of attention, especially in advance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference and in the months since the city implemented a sidewalk possessions ban, it was the most important issue in the mayoral election for just 4 percent of likely voters. Taxes and fees also were picked by 4 percent of voters. Five percent said they were unsure of which issue would be most important in deciding their vote.

Of those who picked infrastructure as the top issue, 39 percent picked Cayetano and Carlisle and Caldwell each got 24 percent of the vote. Thirteen percent of those voters were unsure whom they supported. Cayetano identified the city’s lack of attention to water, sewers and roads as key problems he hoped to address as mayor.

Of those who picked the economy, 35 percent chose Cayetano, while 31 percent picked Carlisle and 22 percent selected Caldwell. Twelve percent were unsure.

When it came to those who picked taxes and fees as their most important issue, 40 percent chose Cayetano, 23 percent Caldwell and 19 percent Carlisle. Seventeen percent were unsure.

Of those who said some other issue than the ones offered was most important, 29 percent opted for Cayetano, 16 percent Caldwell and 14 percent Carlisle. Forty-one percent were unsure.

Rail was the most important issue to supporters of all three candidates, but it wasn’t equally important to the supporters of all three. Sixty-eight percent of Cayetano’s backers said rail was their No. 1 issue, versus 44 percent for Carlisle supporters and 36 percent for Caldwell voters.

The economy had the second-most Carlisle supporters list it as their No. 1 issue, with 24 percent. Twenty-two percent of Caldwell voters had the economy ranked first, and 11 percent of Cayetano backers.

Infrastructure garnered the second-most first-place votes from Caldwell backers, with 25 percent. Twenty percent of Carlisle voters chose infrastructure as their most important issue, as did 13 percent of Cayetano supporters.

As the attached charts show, rail is the top issue among every demographic.

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