Modern survey research had its Island origins in two studies made of family incomes and expenditures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the first in 1900 and 1901 and the second in 1910.
The latter survey, for example, reported an average yearly family income of $808 in Honolulu. Fully 74 percent of the households were renters, 44 percent lacked a private bath, and annual expenditures for poi ranged from a miniscule 8 cents for Japanese families to $19 for Hawaiians.
The earliest radio listenership survey was made in 1935. Many listeners habitually tuned in Mainland stations, notably high wattage transmitters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Cincinnati. Jack Benny, America’s favorite program at the time, ranked only 11th in Hawai‘i.
Other types of survey research conducted in the prewar period included studies of visitor expenditures in 1928 and 1931, a traffic origin-destination survey in 1940, and opinion surveys beginning in the same year.
The first Island political poll based on scientific sampling principles was one conducted by the firm of Territorial Surveys in August 1948. This 1,200-interview survey revealed a strong shift from Republican to Democratic preferences, especially among non-Caucasian voters. It was the first of countless such polls in Hawai‘i.
By Robert C. Schmitt