Politics of Hawaii

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

History and current issues

This only covers the history of the politics of the State of Hawaii. For information on the political history of the previous two forms of government, see Territory of Hawaii - Organic Act and Kingdom of Hawaii - Government.

State government

Congressional representation

Hawaii's congressional politics are typically dominated by Democrats. The state has elected just one Republican U.S. senator, Hiram Fong, who served from 1959 to 1977, and two GOP House members. The rest have been Democrats. Hawaii is currently represented in the Senate by Democrats Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz. In the House, Mark Takai (HI-1) and Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) represent the state.

County governments

City and County of Honolulu- Kirk Caldwell
County of Hawaii- William "Billy" Kenoi
County of Maui- Alan Arakawa
County of Kauai- Bernard Carvalho

Political parties

Dominant party system

Hawaii has run on a Dominant party system, even misinterpreted as a Single-Party system. The legislative majority tends to hold significantly more power than any minority power and the position of the government and the position of the ruling party are closely aligned. This system was largely brought about by the 1887 Constitution which was forced on King David Kalākaua by what is now known as the Hawaii Republic Bayonet Constitution. The constitution diminished the power of the monarchy and empowered the legislature.

Hawaiian nationalism

Kanaka Maoli flag was the king’s flag used by Hawaiian nationalists
Ka Hae Hawaiʻi flown upside down, symbolizing distress, used by Hawaiian separatists.

Hawaiian nationalism is focused on producing a national identity. Most Hawaiian nationalists have argued that the Hawaiian race and their descendants should govern the islands as a constitutional monarchy. It is also important to note that Hawaiian nationalism is not limited to Native Hawaiians but have included other groups including Whites and Asians such as Walter M. Gibson.

However, most citizens of Hawaii support continued membership in the United States and disregard separatist views.

Presidential elections

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2012 27.84% 121,015 70.55% 306,658
2008 26.58% 120,446 71.85% 325,588
2004 45.26% 194,191 54.01% 231,708
2000 37.46% 137,845 55.79% 205,286
1996 31.64% 113,943 56.93% 205,012
1992 36.70% 136,822 48.09% 179,310
1988 44.75%' 158,625 54.27% 192,364
1984 55.10% 185,050 43.82% 147,154
1980 42.90% 130,112 44.80% 135,879
1976 48.06% 140,003 50.59% 147,375
1972 62.48% 168,865 37.52% 101,409
1968 38.70% 91,425 59.83% 141,324
1964 21.24%' 44,022 78.76% 163,249
1960 49.97% 92,295 50.03% 92,410

Hawaii is dominated by the Democratic Party and has supported Democrats in every presidential in which it has participated, except 1972 and 1984, when the incumbent Republican candidates won 49-state landslides. In 2004, John Kerry won the state's 4 electoral votes by a margin of 9 percentage points with 54% of the vote. Every county in the state supported the Democratic candidate. In 2008, Hawaii native Barack Obama won by an overwhelming 45 point lead: 72% for the Democrat and 27% for Republican John McCain. Hawaii is the only actual state that gave either candidate more than 70% of the vote. Obama again won Hawaii by a large margin in 2012, suffering only a small swing against him, winning 71% to 28% for Republican Mitt Romney. Hawaii once again gave a higher vote share to Obama than any of the 49 other states, though on this occasion, Obama's vote was not quite as high as his challenger's best state (Utah, where Mormon Romney polled 73%).

See also

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