Interest in this year’s presidential election is at record levels in many states across the country, and the respective party chairs in Hawaii say it’s no exception here.

Although the presidential election is still a full eight months away, interest in this year’s race is already peaking.

The Hawaii Republican caucus is Tuesday, March 8, followed by the Democratic preference poll two weeks later on Saturday, March 26.

Democratic party chair Stephanie Ohigashi says it’s been an election season like none other.

“It really is exciting and we’re ready for the March 26th caucuses that will be happening across the state,” she said.

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It reminds her of the excitement generated here by Barack Obama eight years ago.

“It’s very similar in the fact that a lot of people are drawn to see and they want to participate,” Ohigashi said. “In fact, we’ve been seeing 500 new applications per week since December.”

The Republican state party is also benefiting from the hotly contested race, and it’s launching a full-scale effort to engage any new potential party members.

“It’s been a very contested election with a number of candidates,” said Fritz Rohlfing, Hawaii Republican party chair. “A lot more people are becoming more involved in the political process and excitement. There’s a lot of excitement.”

Both Hawaii party chairs say tapping into the so-called millennials and the energy they bring is critical. They also say less personal bashing and more getting into the issues would be beneficial for everyone.

“I have a great deal of confidence when people start to look at the final nominee from the Democratic Party,” Ohigashi said. “A real leader will emerge and someone we can trust to do with the decision-making needed by the president.”

“This is an opportunity to have a voice,” Rohlfing said. “Republicans here sometimes despair and say Hawaii is probably going to go Democrat. Well, your vote counts because it determines the number of delegates that will go to the national convention.”

If you want to participate in either the Republican caucus or the Democratic preference poll, they’re both making it easy by offering one-stop shopping. You can sign up, join the party, and cast your vote.