An interesting phenomenon in this presidential election is the frequent mention of "median voters." According to persistent reporting in the media, median voters will seemingly play a decisive role in whether the pan-blue or pan-green camp wins the election since the two camps have already secured their basic voter bases and appear to have equal support. However, who are median voters? What percentage are they of the total voters? Are they really that influential? There is no unanimous answer to these questions and everyone has their own differing interpretation.
As a matter of fact, the median voters referred to in the news are different from those defined in Anthony Downs' renowned median voter theorem. The median voters mentioned in the media are probably closer to the "undecided voters" categorized in opinion polls. But some view "independent voters," those who do not identify with any specific party, as median voters. Still, in some others' imagination, median voters are a group of highly independent and rational voters, who are less ideological, emotional, or blindly obedient and who vote on the basis of political platforms or performance. They are mostly middle-class people with a relatively high education. They can think rationally and judge discreetly.
The percentage of median voters varies with different definitions. If median voters are those undecided voters, they account for 20 to 30 percent of the total voters, according to the polls. These undecided voters, however, are by no means homogenous. They are a complicated make-up of various voters. Some of them may have already made their decisions but prefer not to reveal their preferences. Some probably do not care about politics so they have not decided yet. Others are those voters who are waiting to be "mobilized" by the vote captains (
According to the polls, a majority of the undecided voters are independent voters who do not identify with any party. Very few would identify with some party and have not made up their mind yet. Besides, the undecided voters tend to be older in age, have lower educational qualifications and reside in the agricultural provinces of central and southern Taiwan instead of the metropolitan north. These features are quite different from what most people imagine about median voters. Those living in the cities and with higher eduction may only account for an extremely small percentage of the undecided voters.
Generally speaking, most of the middle-class voters who have higher education are widely exposed to political information in everyday life. They usually have established their political preference during the socialization process of politics. It is only a question of whether they want to make their decisions known or not. There should be few people who do not care about election news until just before the presidential election. In addition, the presidential candidates nominated by the two camps are all old faces. Most of the voters have long had a good understanding or even likes or dislikes about them. Therefore, in order to fight for the 20 to 30 percent of undecided voters, the two camps, based on rational calculation, are most likely to devote their campaigns to central and southern Taiwan where mobilization is more effective. They believe that it is more realistic to influence those undecided voters they can reach by seeking and defending the support of local vote captains than to fight with political appeals for those highly independent, rational voters.
Wang Yeh-lih is a professor of political science at Tunghai University.
Translated by Jennie Shih
The US House of Representatives on July 1 passed by unanimous consent a bipartisan bill that would penalize Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s new national security legislation in Hong Kong, as well as banks that do business with them. The following day, the US Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was later sent to the White House, where it awaits US President Donald Trump’s signature. The bill does not spell out what the sanctions would look like and Trump has yet to sign it into law, but Reuters on Thursday last week reported that five major Chinese state lenders are considering
A Briton who has lived in Taiwan for 10 years has gained renown for drawing detailed maps of Taiwanese cities. Artist Tom Rook gained a following in 2013 when a magazine posted an interview with him online. By the next day, the magazine’s post had been shared more than 1,000 times, and Rook’s Facebook page was inundated with comments and friend requests. The Taipei Times first reported on Rook in 2015 (“The accidental illustrator,” Sept. 9, page 12). Rook’s drawings are so special because he looks at cities from a unique perspective, whether he is sketching a 3D streetscape as a 2D
Two and a half years ago, following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to put the highly contentious fight in historical perspective. “Nothing is broken about our democracy... we have big arguments over a lot of important things,” he said. McConnell went on to reference other difficult times, including the emotional 1960s debates over civil rights, where he said the US ultimately came out “in the right place.” This is critical context for American friends in the Pacific. The political turmoil the US is now going through is not so extraordinary.
Although news reports have been dominated by lawmakers’ scheduled review of the qualifications of Control Yuan member nominees and an ensuing vote at the Legislative Yuan this week, two more important issues await their consideration during the extraordinary session: changing the cover of the nation’s passport and adding “Taiwan” motifs to the fuselages of China Airlines (CAL) aircraft. The motions for the changes have an interesting parallel with the nation’s previous efforts to update the cover of the passport by adding the word “Taiwan” in 2003, in that they were both prompted by a pandemic originating in China — SARS in