Poll shows Hawaiians split on Senate appointment

Hawaii voters are divided in their opinions about Gov. Neil Abercrombie's (D) decision to appoint Brian Schatz (D) to the Senate instead of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), according to a new poll conducted for the Honolulu Civil Beat.

Voters are evenly divided over whether they would have preferred Schatz or Hanabusa for the seat, with 36 percent backing each. But 49 percent approve of Abercrombie's decision, while 36 percent disapprove of it.

Former Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) sent a deathbed letter to Abercrombie requesting that Hanabusa take over his seat, making his decision to pick Schatz instead a surprise for many. Hanabusa since then has publicly discussed running against either Schatz or Abercrombie in next year's Democratic primary.

She might have a good chance in either race: While the paper did not provide numeric breakdowns, it writes that the Democrats in the poll "tended to support" Hanabusa, while much of Schatz's support comes from independents and Republicans, an unhelpful thing in a Democratic primary.

The poll showed voters disapprove of Inouye's staff's decision to make the letter to Abercrombie public, with 45 percent disapproving to 33 percent approving.

The poll of 813 registered voters was conducted from Jan. 7-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.