A couple days ago Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle said she might be interested in running for the Senate in 2012. A few years ago, coming off getting 63% in her reelection campaign for Governor, that might have been a very scary thought for Democrats. But the poll we did for Daily Kos in the state last weekend found that Lingle is not nearly as popular as she used to be.
Lingle now meets with approval from only 46% of voters in the state with 45% disapproving. She's still very popular with Republicans (an 80/17 approval rating) and independents as well (a 56/32 spread). But for a Republican to win in Hawaii requires a significant amount of crossover support from Democrats and that Lingle no longer seems to have- only 22% like the job she's doing now to 68% who disapprove.
Daniel Akaka, who would be Lingle's opponent in 2012 unless he chooses to retire, has better approval numbers with 49% of voters approving of him and 35% disapproving. He can't match Lingle's popularity with independents and isn't any more popular with Republicans than Lingle is with Democrats. But he retains a high degree of popularity within his own party and since that accounts for most of the voters in the state he has superior approval numbers to her.
And of course these approval numbers are with voters in a 2010 electorate that's much more conservative than what the state is likely to see in 2012 with native son Barack Obama back at the top of the Democratic ticket. Lingle would be under water approval wise with the voters in a Presidential year electorate. So even if Akaka retires I don't think Democrats have a lot to worry about here.