[NOTE: thanks to new spreadsheets provided by Maui political analyst Dick Mayer, we’ve updated this post to map three important Maui County Council races, rather than just the South Maui race from our earlier post.]
There’s a very interesting article in this morning’s Maui News on the local fallout of the 2016 election. Maui’s politics are changing–been changing for a few years now–and that the Maui County Council is starting to reflect that, with newly elected councilmembers like Alika Atay and Kelly King representing very different constituencies and interests than those they’re replacing.
“This year’s precinct voting patterns showed nonestablishment candidates relying on voters living outside of traditional Democratic, union-backed strongholds in Central and West Maui, Molokai and Lanai,” states The Maui News story. “Precinct voting results showed Atay and King drew from the same wells of voter support, especially in Haiku and Paia, South Maui and Upcountry, while their opponents prevailed at most polls in Central Maui, West Maui, Molokai and Lanai.”
We’ve been digging into the data of the Maui County Council races since the election–especially the South Maui race, given that it’s so rare to see an incumbent around here get knocked out by a challenger (note: analyzing all this data was a major headache because the Hawaii Office of Elections insists on releasing its data in PDF form with each precinct’s votes broken down into three columns showing walk-in votes, absentee ballots mailed in and absentee ballots walked in, rather than more usable spreadsheets with individual totals). But thanks to spreadsheets compiled by longtime Maui political analyst Dick Mayer, we can map three crucial Maui County Council races, showing exactly where winners drew their greatest support.
Anyway, in this race challenger Kelly King–backed by the anti-GMO, slow-growth Ohana Coalition–beat incumbent Don Couch, who was far friendlier to the traditional political establishment. The above map represents pretty much how Maui voted in the race.
Now, a few things about the map and the race:
• King’s strongest support came from Haiku, Upcountry and South Maui.
• Couch’s strongest support was in Kahului and West Maui.
• Couch won Lanai’s only precinct and all four of Molokai’s precincts. Even though he bested King on those islands, the votes he gained in those precincts weren’t enough to offset losses elsewhere.
• A couple precincts were statistical ties: Couch won the northern most West Maui precinct (10-05) by six votes, while King won the North Kihei/Ma`alaea precinct (11-01) by three votes.
• The Haiku precinct (13-02) is massive and dwarfs all other Maui County precincts. King won it overwhelmingly (as did John Fitzpatrick, Couch’s challenger in the 2012 election).
Okay, now let’s look at a new race: the fight to succeed termed-out Councilmember Mike Victorino, who represents the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu seat. Here’s the map of that race:
In this race, Ohana Coalition-backed Alika Atay (blue) defeated former Maui County Councilmember Dain Kane (red). This map, though similar to that of the South Maui race, has a few differences.
First, it’s immediately clear that, once again, a candidate was able to win all precincts on Lanai and Molokai but still lose the race. It’s also clear that while Kane was able to win substantial votes in Wailuku and Kahului–vote totals show Kane decisively beat Atay in Wailuku and overwhelmingly beat him in Kahului–as well as score one West Maui precinct, Atay beat him badly in South Maui, Upcountry and especially East Maui.
Indeed, Atay smashed Kane in the large Haiku precinct, 2,447 votes to 1,022. That’s a difference of 1,425 votes–a massively important win, especially given that Atay’s total margin of victory over Kane was just 808 votes.
Which brings us to the last race we mapped, the open Upcountry County Council race. Here’s the map to that race:
Clearly, this election played out very differently than the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu race. Here, longtime Democratic Party activist Yuki Lei Sugimura (blue) defeated Ohana Coalition candidate Napua Greig-Nakasone (red).
We can see from the map that Sugimura won by largely drawing support from very different constituencies than either King or Atay. While Greig-Nakasone also drew votes from South Maui and East Maui like other Ohana candidates we’ve looked at–and even beat Sugimura in Lanai and most of Molokai–she lost critical votes in West Maui and Upcountry.
Indeed, Sugimura’s big victories Upcountry–the only region won by all three council candidates we’ve looked at here–clearly put her over the top, allowing her to defeat Greig-Nakasone by 1,052 votes. This suggests that had Kane and Couch performed better Upcountry, they would have won their respective races. As it was, Kane beat Atay in just two precincts Upcountry, while Couch won over none of the Upcountry precincts.
What all this means in terms of policy and legislation is impossible to say, but it’s pretty clear that Maui County Council hearings will get a more interesting next year.
Maps: Jenn Carter