U.S. Rep. Ed Case is on course to easily win reelection in the Democratic primary Aug. 13. He leads political newcomer Sergio Alcubilla 65% to 8%.

A new Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll shows that 27% of likely 1st Congressional District voters are unsure of who they will vote for, but Case — who has held the CD1 seat since January 2019 and previously represented the 2nd Congressional District from November 2002 to January 2007 — seems assured of victory, barring the unexpected.

Jill Tokuda, a former state senator, is leading first term state Rep. Patrick Branco 31% to 6% for the CD2 seat. But a huge number of those surveyed — 63% are not sure who they favor.

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“The Ed Case campaign seems to be firing on all cylinders,” said Seth Rosenthal, a survey consultant with MRG Research, which conducted the poll. “He has high name recognition, and he’s doing well across the board in terms of demographics — even doing well among liberals and progressives, where he has had some vulnerability in past elections.”

Rosenthal added, “In the 2nd District, more than half of voters are unsure who they’ll vote for. But among those who chose a candidate in our survey, Tokuda is outpacing Branco by a 5-to-1 margin.”

Three Republicans, a Green Party candidate and a nonpartisan candidate are also running for the 1st Congressional District seat. Democrats Nicole Gi, Brendan Schultz, Kyle Yoshida and Steven Sparks are also running for the 2nd Congressional District seat as well as two Republicans and a Libertarian Party candidate in their respective primaries.

Case ‘Too Conservative’

Civil Beat spoke with a number of voters who participated in the recent survey.

Craig Farrell, 77, a security guard from Honolulu, is in favor of Case.

“I ran into Ed Case near Ala Moana at a resident manager’s meeting, and he just impressed the hell out of me, really,” he said. “I sat in the back and talked to him while some other speakers were talking up front, and I felt very, very comfortable with him.”

“I agree with most of his decisions and votes,” he added. “I realize he’s been there a while, and people are talking about term limits, but where would we be right now if Daniel Inouye had been thrown out on term limits? We wouldn’t have the beautiful military housing out on Pearl Harbor and Hickam. So there are some good things about longer terms, too.”

But Case is too conservative for some, like Catherine Graham, 74, a retiree from Alewa Heights on Oahu.

“I just don’t appreciate some of the votes he’s taken in Congress,” she said.

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Graham prefers Alcubilla instead of Case.

“I don’t know Sergio too well, except that some good friends of mine are very pro-Sergio, and they know him well,” she said. “I respect what they say, and I know I don’t like Ed Case.”

As for 2nd Congressional District, semi-retired Mililani resident Dallas Marie Cabalse, 61, prefers Tokuda over Branco because she has “never heard of Branco.”

But Cabalse does recognize Tokuda’s name.

“I know that she was involved in a lot of things,” she said. “I’ve heard about her work and things she has supported in the articles I read in the paper.”

Kolby Ross, 20, a student from Kaneohe, feels similarly.

“I haven’t looked into either of them a ton, but Jill Tokuda was just the name that I recognized,” he said.

And here’s the view of another Branco supporter surveyed by MRG Research.

“Most politicians in Hawaii are ineffective and crooks. This guy says he stands up for LGBTQ+,” said Kate Mullen, 67, a retiree from Hilo. “So possibly, he’s not a crook. That’s why I’m going with him. I don’t know one thing about him. I’m just taking the least offensive person.”

How We Did It

The Civil Beat/HNN poll, taken June 28-30, surveyed 1,120 registered voters. The full poll’s margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Of those who responded to the survey on CD1, 390 voters identified as likely Democratic primary voters. In CD2, 391 respondents identified as such. The margin of error for both districts is 5 percentage points.

Civil Beat conducted its poll with MRG Research using a combination of interactive voice response technology (touch-tone polling) and a survey administered online.

Both the touch-tone and online version of the poll were conducted using random, probability-based samplings of registered voters in Hawaii.

The touch-tone version was conducted by contacting landline telephones. The online version was conducted by texting cellphones and linking poll participants to an online survey optimized for smartphones.

Coming Sunday: Approval ratings for Hawaii’s top elected officials.

Read other recent Civil Beat/HNN poll stories here.

Read the full results of Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll on the U.S. House races here:

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