U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is popular in the islands — very popular.

Sixty percent of registered voters statewide say they have a favorable opinion of the Democrat. Just 16 percent have a negative view, while 24 percent say they are unsure or don’t know enough to make a judgement.

Civil Beat’s pollster, Merriman River Group, says the 60 percent positive number is impressive. 

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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at the Democratic Party of Hawaii convention, May 24, 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Merriman surveyed 840 voters May 18-19 using a mix of cell phones and land lines. The poll’s margin or error is 3.4 percent.

When it comes to different demographic groups, Gabbard does well across the board.

A majority of men and women approve of her, though 30 percent of women say they are unsure. Most people under 50 also approve, though 28 percent are unsure. People over 50, however, are certain they like Gabbard, who is just 33.

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Seventy-one percent of Democrats like Gabbard, but so do most independents and nearly half of Republicans surveyed. People with backgrounds in labor and the military also give her high marks, as do most ethnic groups.

Gabbard represents Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers all rural and most suburban areas in the City and County of Honolulu as well as the neighbor islands. Guess what? Gabbard is popular in all those areas, too.

Even a majority of people in the 1st Congressional District — 53 percent — look favorably upon the freshman lawmaker, which highlights her statewide appeal.

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Gabbard’s popularity may explain why she has yet to draw a Democratic primary challenger, though two prospective candidates, neither well known, have pulled papers. One of those also pulled papers to run as a nonpartisan candidate.

Two Republicans are running in that party’s primary, including Kawika Crowley, who Gabbard crushed in 2012. And there is a Libertarian candidate as well. None are household names like, well, Tulsi Gabbard.

Indeed, Gabbard has quickly become a national figure, frequently sought out by the media for her views on military issues (she’s a veteran) and a headliner at prominent events (including helping to raise money for other Democrats).

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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard confers with campaign staff after speaking at the Democratic Party of Hawaii convention.

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