Updated: Nov 12, 2022
The Conservative movement in Hawaiʻi made some critical strides on Election Day. Congratulations to all of our endorsees that made it! And to all of our endorsees who fell short this time: Hana hou!
Unfortunately, we also experienced some major disappointments.
All of these events will serve as learning lessons for 2024 and beyond. Let’s acknowledge what we did well – and where we failed.
I’ll be calling some balls and strikes in this article. That’s not for the purpose of pointing fingers; it’s for making sure we learn and get this right next time.
We must continue to learn and grow. We CAN and WILL win if we do!
I’ve outlined 15 key takeaways from our early analysis. Much more to come as we dive into the data over the next few weeks.
1. The best-run campaigns performed the best. Comparing the results to the strategy and effort of each campaign, it’s clear that performance in this election is directly linked to campaign activities. This holds true in every district across our Islands that we’ve analyzed so far. The campaigns who knocked on doors – especially using a walk app, got their signs in yards, sent out mailers, and ran ads, all performed the best. Luck and location had very little to do with campaign success.
2. Repeat candidates win the day. David Alcos and Diamond Garcia had both run good campaigns in the past election and were returning again with a strong campaign. Their campaign experience and name recognition were major assets in their wins. It is essential that our 2022 candidates RUN AGAIN IN 2024! Hana hou!
3. Time cannot be beaten. Most of our candidates entered the race shortly before the Primary and only truly got their campaign started in August – or even September. That’s simply not enough time to run an effective campaign. If they start again today, they’ll have two years to plan, fundraise, and build name recognition for strong runs in 2024.
(Hawaiʻi Conservatives was also late to the game – founded on August 15th and up and running in mid-September. Now we have two years to get things right in 2024!)
4. Money can win races. Some of our best candidates may have only come up short because of money. You can get a long way in your campaign on a shoestring budget with lots of well-placed effort, but having money is often what gets you across the finish line. Fundraising needs to be the #1 priority for every candidate in 2024.
5. Negative campaigning works. When done right, negative campaigning is not only effective, it’s essential. Campaigning is all about driving votes for your side and away from your opponent. Especially when running against an incumbent, you must do something that will create behavioral change. The reality is that the liberal establishment is ruining our state with their progressive policies, mismanagement, negligence, and corruption. Voters must hear that. We did well everywhere that we got that message out.
6. Messaging MUST start before each election, NOT during each election. The campaign against Josh Green begins today. Between now and 2026, voters need to be educated. Voters must be made aware of each and every mistake/corrupt act that Green and the liberal establishment make. Voters must be able to associate our problems with our government. This way, the campaign in 2026 will align with what voters already know about Josh Green, rather than it being new information. There simply isn’t enough time to educate voters/drive a message in a 4-6 month election campaign. This was an ‘Achilles Heel’ for Duke Aiona. No significant messaging went out before this year, when Josh Green should have been hammered for the last four years as a corrupt and complacent Lt. Governor.
7. Statewide and federal offices must deploy a full-scale ground game. It’s often said that door-to-door is the key ingredient to any successful legislative candidate – and the results certainly bore that out. But in our environment in Hawaiʻi, we must have a full-scale ground game in our statewide and federal races. This means active door to door. The next statewide/federal campaign must build a volunteer base – or even hire staff – to go door to door in every targeted community. That will be a key component to victory. Mailers and events will get you a long way, but door to door is the lynchpin to our success in Hawaiʻi.
8. Republicans must build a volunteer infrastructure. In an honest reflection of 2022, we must acknowledge the lack of a volunteer infrastructure and no ground game as a major failure by the Hawaiʻi Republican Party, at all levels. The Party must spend the next two years building that infrastructure, which will boost all Republican candidates from the district to the statewide level. This must be the primary focus of county committees, as outlined by the RNC’s community organizing model and the strategic plans that they’ve rolled out to state parties – which have been highly successful everywhere they’ve been implemented.
9. Sign waving feels good, but it’s mostly a waste of time. We’ve yet to find a direct correlation between sign waving and votes in these results. The reality is that most drivers don’t pay too close attention to sign wavers and it’s anybody’s guess if they’re even registered to vote or live in the district. Remember also that well over 70% of active voters are retired. They’re not on the road in morning traffic, they’re at home working in the yard. Candidates need to save their time and energy for going door to door – that’s what will get them the votes.
10. We need to get out of the echo chamber. Many of our candidates spent a large percentage of their time going to the same type of events, with the same attendees, from the primary up until election day. This uses up all of our candidates’ time on the same few people, wears out the supporters running/attending these events, and creates a false sense of success. Instead, we need to be bringing in new people and be out in the community. This should be a major focus for 2024.
11. We need to build on Hawaiian and Polynesian communities. From an early analysis, it seems that we had greater participation from Native Hawaiian and Polynesian voters than ever before – but still only a fraction of these communities voted. We must get these communities engaged, even if it means going to every door in every community and homestead time and again to hear their concerns and encourage involvement in the political process. This is a huge opportunity to grow our voter base for 2024 and beyond.
12. We need a plan for unions. We had no plan for unions and it hurt us badly. Those candidates who did secure union endorsements saw some really positive results from those endorsements. In the results, we saw yet again the power of the big unions to get their people out. Unfortunately, most of our candidates were lost on what endorsements to seek or how to get them. We have almost no meaningful relationships in the big unions. That must change and our planning must start now.
13. Infighting took the wind out of our sails. Nothing is more frustrating than defeating yourself. Our focus should have always been on defeating the liberal establishment. Instead, we were so often focused on petty slights and personality contests, especially by factions in the Republican Party who seemed to put personal agendas over our cause. Let’s end that garbage right now. Enough is enough. We all need to swallow our pride and focus on the bigger picture. Let’s repeat what we did well and make the changes needed where we failed.
14. We haven’t figured out GOTV for mail-in voting. Much more analysis will need to be done to get a full grasp on how we can improve, but the reality is that we don’t yet have a good plan for get-out-the-vote success in our mail-in system. Candidates were all over the map on how they planned/implemented their get-out-the-vote and no strategy was ever implemented by the Hawaiʻi Republican Party. I’ll be sitting down with each candidate to see how each of their plans worked out, and will build a comprehensive statewide strategy for 2024.
15. We didn’t get out the vote. Finally, and perhaps the most telling part of this election, we didn’t get out the vote. Let’s look at this honestly, we did not get all of our people out. With voter turnout so low, and all of the infighting inside of the liberal establishment, we had a real opportunity that was missed. The numbers don’t lie; we didn’t all show up. Even churches and faith groups only turned out a small percentage of their people. Let’s turn this around and start building that coalition for 2024.
To help us win Hawaiʻi – and take our country back!