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The fluke in Hawaii

By the beginning of last week, Democrats really didn't expect to hold the House seat in Hawaii's first district. A bizarre election system -- all parties competing with no primaries, and only a plurality necessary to win -- meant that Republican Charles Djou only needed to get 35 percent or so of the vote to win. As DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told my colleague Philip Rucker, the Democrats were discounting this election and focusing on November, expecting the combined vote for Democratic candidates Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa to point to the national majority in the district.

In the end, Djou won with 39 percent of the vote -- Case and Hanabusa, combined, won 59 percent of the vote. And while I think Democrats are underrating the talented Djou's ability to get reelected in November or face off for a Senate seat when one of the state's longtime veterans retires, the fluky nature of the win is really not worrying Democrats. As Fox News's Chad Pergram argued before either election, "a Republican victory in Hawaii ... could be mostly symbolism. However, a win in Pennsylvania is pure substance." But let's not underrate how well Republicans did here, homing in on Case -- who used to represent the state's 2nd District and burned bridges with a failed 2006 Senate run -- and driving up his negatives, making Djou appeal to tea partyers by pre-gloating that his win would give the GOP control of "Obama's home district."

By David Weigel  |  May 24, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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