Support is building for TMT — even among Hawaiians

//Support is building for TMT — even among Hawaiians

On the eve of a court ruling that could determine the fate of the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii, public support for the stalled $1.4 billion project has never been stronger.

And that goes especially for Native Hawaiians, who have shown a dramatic shift in opinion regarding the proposed next-generation observatory, according to the latest Hawaii Poll commissioned by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Conducted March 13-18 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Washington, D.C., the poll asked 800 randomly selected registered voters across the state if they support or oppose the construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea.

Some 77 percent of the respondents said they support the TMT, whose fate may rest in the hands of the Hawaii Supreme Court in the coming months. Only 15 percent were opposed, while 8 percent were undecided.

The last Hawaii Poll to ask the question of voters statewide — in January 2016 — found that the TMT was backed by 67 percent of those queried.

But an even more dramatic change was seen among Native Hawaiians.

Two years ago, some 59 percent of Hawaiians statewide told the Hawaii Poll they opposed the TMT’s construction, while only 39 percent offered support and just 2 percent declined to give an opinion.

In the latest poll, 72 percent expressed support for the telescope, while 23 percent were against and 5 percent were undecided.

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