Hawaii is gearing up for its Democratic caucus on March 26, and there is at least one candidate that is saying "surf's up!" to the Aloha State: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Though both candidates have been stumping throughout the coast in preparation for the upcoming primaries and caucuses, Sanders has had a particular focus on Hawaii in recent weeks. With this new attention the candidate is giving to the islands, the question comes up about whether Hawaii's delegates are winner-take-all or if they are awarded proportionately.
The 25 pledged delegates up for grabs are, as most states have been in the primary and caucus season thus far, allocated based on a proportional vote. These 25 delegates will therefore be given to either Sanders or Hillary Clinton based on the percentage of votes they receive in the caucus. The state also has an additional nine superdelegates, five of which say they support a Clinton presidency so far.
Moving into the weekend caucus, Clinton has 1,223 pledged delegates to Sanders' 920, a steep edge Sanders has had difficulty slicing into during the last few weeks of the primary season. And though the additional 25 delegates Hawaii offers isn't the largest prize of the primary bunch, Sanders has nevertheless taken the time to specifically address the Aloha State voters.
Sanders has already received the supports of some influential Hawaiian politicians, for instance. Hawaii state Representative Kaniela Ing publicly endorsed Sanders last week, saying that the Vermont senator's focus on the economy and climate change would create the largest positive difference for the people of the Aloha State. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also made big waves after resigning from her position as a vice chair with the Democratic national committee in late February, after which she endorsed Sanders. This was considered one of the biggest endorsements the Vermont senator has received from a sitting lawmaker throughout his campaign to date.
In addition to these endorsements, the Sanders team has also released a series of advertisements targeting the people of Hawaii. The group of ads cost Sanders $174,000 to release, which originally aired this week. Their messages are specific to Aloha State voters in that they address clean energy, climate change, and increasing pay to a higher, livable wage, all issues that have been key in the Hawaii run-off to the national convention.
So though Clinton has gotten the backing of the Hawaii establishment largely behind her, it may ultimately be Sanders catching a wave with the Hawaiians themselves.