How Significant is “The Japanese Vote?”

Richard Borreca
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Asking about ethnic voting in Hawai‘i is like posing the question: “Is it raining in Hawai‘i?”

Yes, somewhere in Hawai‘i almost every day, rain is falling and, yes, Hawai‘i voters take ethnicity into consideration when they go to the polls. But it is way more complicated than that.

Historian and journalist Tom Coffman, who has written several books on Hawai‘i’s history and politics, says it is more difficult to pinpoint the influence of “the Japanese American vote” now that so many Hawai‘i families are made up of many different ancestries.

“It’s obviously of diminished importance because of the decline from percentage in the high 30s of total population to one-fifth,” said Coffman in an interview.

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