The Right Coast

August 14, 2005
More on the Akaka Bill: Poll Suggests that Even Ethnic Hawaiians Oppose It
By Gail Heriot

The Akaka bill, which would put into motion a process transforming ethnic Hawaiians into America's largest Indian tribe, continues to fascinate me.

Last month, the Grassroot Institute released a massive poll with 39,000 participants. The results of the poll appear to show that Hawaiians oppose the Akaka bill by a remarkable ratio of 2 to 1 (56.8%/28.2%) when asked the following question:

"The Akaka Bill question, now pending in Congress, would allow Native Hawaiians to create their own government not subject to all the same laws, regulations and taxes that apply to other citizens of Hawaii. Do you want Congress to approve the Akaka Bill?"

Even ethnic Hawaiians were against the bill. Forty-eight percent (48%) opposed it to only forty-three percent (43%) in favor and nine percent (9%) not responding.

When the poll first came out, there was a lot of talk that other polls had shown the opposite. But it turns out that just one poll was being cited in the other direction, and it is a flawed one. In 2003, the very pro-Akaka bill Office of Hawaiian Affairs commissioned a poll in which ethic Hawaiians were asked:

“Do you think that Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct group, similar to the special recognition given to Native Americans and Alaska Natives?"

Eight-six percent (86%) of the 303 ethnic Hawaiians polls and seventy-eight percent (78%) of the 301 "non-Hawaiians" said "yes." But what are they saying "yes" to? "Recognition." Well, ladies and gentlemen, who wouldn't want recognition? It really seems to me that the Grassroot Institute's question comes a lot closer to the reality of the Akaka bill than the Office of Hawaiian Affairs question.