Hawaii’s diversity made election hard to call

Nate Silver’s elevated his reputation as a rock star statistician in the 2008 presidential electinby predicting the winner in 48 of 50 states. That brand helped him create the the website FiveThirtyEight.com, where he works with other numbers-minded writers. But Saturday’s Democratic primary in Hawaii threw them for a loop, in large part because of demographics.

Hawaii gubernatorial primary winner David Ige

Hawaii gubernatorial primary winner David Ige

FiveThirtyEight.com’s Harry Enten wrote, “Hawaii’s diversity has troubled pollsters in the past and looks to wreak havoc in 2014. Unlike in most states in the continental U.S., the majority of Hawaiians are non-white. Native Hawaiians, people of Asian descent and those of mixed origin make up about 70 percent of the state’s residents. People of Chinese, Filipino and Japanese descent make up the vast majority of Hawaiians.”

Later in his report, Enten wrote, “I’m not aware of any reliable statistics on the racial makeup of Hawaii’s Democratic primary voters. The state and outside groups have done a terrible job at keeping records on who votes and who doesn’t …”

Incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie lost to state Sen. David Ige in the primary, but the winner of the Democratic spot on the ticket for the U.S. Senate was still unresolved Monday.

Low turnout caused by storms did not help and the Senate race could turn on absentee ballots in the Puna District of Hawaii’s Big Island, where the primary was postponed.

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