A Question To Dodge

Some questions always should be finessed, particularly by those of us who would deign to call ourselves political analysts — or allow others to label us as such. I offer one.

Last week I ran into one of my 11 regular readers, a librarian at Leeward Community College. Born overseas, she can be dismissive of American politics. But they also fascinate her.

Whenever we meet — infrequently, since UH-West Oahu relinquished its squatting rights to the LCC campus — she’s eager to talk politics.

So, after I ask, “How’s your family?” she replies, “Fine, yours?” “Well,” say I. “Well.”

“Oh, yes,” her face lights up, “you wrote about your daughter’s wedding.”

All 11 of my readers seem to remember the wedding column, the women among them in great detail.

A little more polite palaver, then it comes — the question I’ve come to dread: “Who’s going to win?”

“Win what?” I ask, buying time.

“The governorship,” she says.

The last time, pre-primary, someone asked “Who’s going to win?” I foolhardedly answered, “Ige, Hanabusa and Takai.” The two other politically analytical gentlemen on the panel agreed with me on Ige and Hanabusa, one demurred on Takai.

Two out of three, it might be argued. Not bad. No, it was bad, particularly because early in the primary campaigns I had said frequently that the Senate contest would be close, and I didn’t want to call it.

But then I started reading the polls, trusting the polls and replying, when asked, “It’s going to be close, but I think Hanabusa’s going to win.”

I was right on the “close,” wrong on who was going to win. I should have ignored the polls and stuck with “close.”

So, to my librarian friend’s question, let’s check the polls. At this writing, a CBS/YouGov poll has it Ige 37, Aiona 35, Hannemann 6; Rasmussen reported Ige 40, Aiona 39, Hannemann 14. Closer to home, Star-Advertiser had it Ige 34, Aiona 41, Hannemann 15. Civil Beat poll numbers read Ige 31, Aiona 31, Hannemann 17.

All were taken, however, before the Sturm und Drang of the general election got underway, which it did last week with the appearance of the national Republican Gubernatorial Campaign Committee’s attack ad aimed at Ige.

The pollsters, of course, when they’re right, nod knowingly, maybe even triumphantly. If they’re wrong, they will say, assuming an air of scientific objectivity, “A poll is just a snapshot in time.”

As a certified, credentialed and tenured political analyst, and an old one at that, I have no such dodge. So henceforth, no matter what, to the “Who’s going to win?” I shall stroke my chin whiskers, nod my head and reply, “It’s going to be close.” Then I’ll give my chin whiskers yet another stroke or two, feigning further thought, and confirm my analysis with, “Yep, it’s gonna be close.”

At this point, poll numbers on the gubernatorial race certainly support the assertion that “it’s gonna be close.” But what if some fool asks me, “Who’s going to win the congressional race in the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Kawika Crowley or Democratic incumbent Tulsi Gabbard?”

“It’s gonna be close” doesn’t work. It only makes me look as foolish as the fool who asked the question.

So maybe just a smile, a nod, and a “Remember Ige vs. Abercrombie?”