City's rail rendering
City's rail rendering

Pacific Resource Partnership, the membership organization that has conducted “push polls” attacking both Honolulu City Council Member Tom Berg and former Gov. Ben Cayetano, released a poll on Wednesday that shows Cayetano losing ground in the Honolulu mayor’s race, leaving him statistically tied with Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

The summary of the poll said: “This most recent survey of voters and their attitudes about the mayor’s race found a notable drop in support for Ben Cayetano since our last round of polling, a clear sign that the honeymoon period he had with voters in January has ended. The former governor still leads his two rivals in the mayor’s race among likely primary voters in a 3-way matchup, but the gap is now within the survey’s margin of error as Cayetano has dropped a net 5 points, going from 38 percent of the vote down to 33 percent while Carlisle garners 30 percent (up from 29 percent January) and Caldwell has 22 percent (up from 18 percent in January), with 16 percent of voters undecided.”

The PRP, which represents more than 240 contractors in Hawaii, is the leading advocacy organization supporting the city’s $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project. Cayetano, who pledged to kill the project if he is elected this year as mayor, is the biggest single threat to the project moving forward.

Tulchin Research, the research company hired by PRP, also claims 46 percent of the public now supports rail, while 49 percent is opposed.

The poll summary said: “We have measured support for rail several times over the past year. This most recent poll shows support for the rail transit project is higher now than at any other point since we started surveying voters on the subject. Specifically, while a plurality of voters on Oahu oppose the project (49 percent), nearly as many (46 percent) now support the project. The fact that a majority of voters no longer oppose the project and that this opposition is statistically within the margin of error of support (margin of error = +/-3.5%) indicates there has been a statistically significant shift in public attitudes towards rail in recent months. In fact, since we first polled on the rail issue early last year, support for rail has increased a net of 7 percentage points…”

When asked to comment on the survey, which was distributed to the media by U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye’s office, Cayetano said: “The poll was commissioned by Pacific Resources Partnership, the entity which supports Peter Carlisle.  PRP has been running a ‘push poll’ to smear me. So I have no confidence that anything it does is credible.”

The poll result is inconsistent with polls taken by the StarAdvertiser, Civil Beat and other polls, Cayetano said.

Those media polls show some 55 percent are now opposed to the rail project, and just over 30 percent are in favor. Their polls also showed Cayetano with a sizeable lead over his opponents, Peter Carlisle and Kirk Caldwell, in the coming mayor’s election.

Cayetano said: “Ultimately, the final decision will be made on Election Day.”