Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Record Turnout for Obama in Hawaii

honolulu advertiser: Obama had 28,347 votes, or 76 percent, to U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's 8,835 votes, or 24 percent, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. The totals mean Clinton will be awarded six delegates.

Those are the vote tallies contained in what the party is calling "the preliminary final" results. A recount is scheduled for March 1 before the final results are released.

Hawai'i Democrats turned out in record numbers at the party's caucuses to help settle the nomination fight between Obama and Clinton of New York.

Obama ran television and radio advertisements in the Islands and talked about his local roots to help distinguish himself from Clinton, who sent her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, to campaign for her in the state.

The caucuses drew a surge of new Democrats, including many who registered to vote and joined the party just last night.

The party had printed 17,000 ballots and volunteers at many caucus sites ran out of ballots and blue party membership cards and had to improvise with notebook paper.

The caucuses have typically drawn fewer than 5,000 people in the past but got more than seven times that figure last night.

"I trust that the people of Hawai'i understand that this is a very unique year," said Florence Kong Kee, the party's political director.

Brian Schatz, a local Obama volunteer and former state representative for Makiki, said it appeared that last night's turnout may have exceeded the local Obama campaign's estimate of 15,000 to 18,000 people.

"It's a gift this election season to have such excellent choices on the Democratic side," said Schatz, a likely candidate for state party chairman in May. "We think the more people who come in to caucus is better for the Obama campaign."

State House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell, D-24th (Manoa), a Clinton volunteer, described the turnout as "unbelievable."

"Unbelievable, in terms of turnout, in terms of energy — I think it's historic," he said. "I think people thought they were part of something special tonight."


Annelle Amaral, the party's O'ahu County chair, said party leaders thought there would be substantially higher turnout this time compared to past years but there was no way to know exactly how many people would show up.

"How could we be ready?" Amaral said. "How could anyone have anticipated this kind of attendance. It's phenomenal. I've never seen this."

Obama won the Wisconsin primary yesterday, his ninth in a row since Super Tuesday, and had hoped to take the Islands to give him momentum going into Ohio and Texas on March 4. The Clinton campaign has targeted Ohio and Texas as essential for her to rebound and capture the nomination.

Obama, who was born here and graduated from Punahou School, appeared to be attracting many of the new Democrats last night, while Clinton was stronger with traditional Democrats.

Hawai'i's caucuses — in which 20 of the state's 29 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August were at stake — took on greater national importance after Obama and Clinton remained close after Super Tuesday.

obama's hawaii connections.