Political analysts in their never-ending search for trends and clues to the outcome of the 1988 and 1992 presidential elections, have overlooked the results of the recent elections in three city council districts in Honolulu. We can't account for it. Hawaii is, after all, the nation's newest state and therefore perfectly positioned to forecast where America is going.
As Honolulu goes so goes Hawaii, except in 1980, when Honolulu went narrowly for Ronald Reagan and the Neighbor Islands swung the state to Jimmy Carter. So the place to look for decisive early trends is the city where the Pali winds blow.
And those winds, which recently seemed to be blowing Republican, are now gusting Democratic. Earlier this year Honolulu's Democrat-turned-Republican mayor, Frank Fasi, persuaded three councilmen to switch parties, giving the Republicans a majority on the Honolulu council. The Democrats responded by circulating recall petitions. That old party-switcher Ronald Reagan appeared in ads for the new Republicans, and Democratic Party stalwart Sen. Daniel Inouye appeared for the recallers. Last Saturday voters turned out heavily and by varying margins recalled all three. It was a big victory for Council President Patsy Mink and the national Democratic Party and a setback of surfing wave proportions for Frank Fahrenkopf's Republican Party. And yet, somehow, the mainland trend-machine missed it.
Yes, some will argue that all politics is local and that the politics of Honolulu's council districts is more local than most. They will say that Mr. Fasi is a battle-scarred veteran of Hawaii politics with a strong personal following and steady opposition from Gov. George Ariyoshi, who has won and lost elections without much regard for party label. They may add that ethnic rivalries, between Japanese-Americans and native Hawaiians, play a significant role, with Mr. Fasi as a particular favorite of the latter and target of the former. They could say that Honolulu is one of the few parts of the United States where a longshoremen's union is a political force.
Picky, picky. Aficionados understand that a trend is a trend. The unaccustomed silence of the dopesters on the bellwether Honolulu council recall races is baffling, especially when you consider that the 1988 New Hampshire primary (God help us all) is almost here.