Tue, Aug 30, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Tsai must think nationally to win

By Liu Shih-chung 劉世忠

Most public polls show Tsai head-to-head with Ma in terms of popularity for the moment. However, when one looks at answers to the question: “Who do you believe will win the presidential election?” Tsai trails Ma.

In other words, even if Tsai is able to consolidate the DPP’s support base, middle-of-the-road voters are still carefully watching what she says and does before deciding whether to vote for her.

Moreover, although many of those who voted for Ma in 2008 are disappointed with his performance, that has not yet translated into support for Tsai.

Tsai needs DPP supporters to persuade others that she is up to the job and to enhance the impression that she has a good chance of becoming president. The “expectation motive” could yet be a key element in her campaign.

The lack of sufficient emotion, passion and expectation in Tsai’s campaign to date has led to the final element of electoral competition — “confrontation.”

In this context, confrontation does not mean provocation. It refers more to the “exchange of fire” between Tsai and Ma and entails cut-throat warfare. It also encompasses minute-by-minute door-to-door visits or “living-room chats” and includes campaign ads that reach out to the rank and file, not just the elite.

Most importantly, it means that Tsai must trust her team, delegate responsibility and take advice from experts. Having long been labeled a “non-traditional DPP leader,” Tsai has certainly made a tremendous effort to turn the party into a more unified and rational force of checks and balances.

The only time Tsai was tested was in November’s special municipality elections in New Taipei City (新北市), when she failed by a relatively small margin. She has never run a national campaign before, so when it comes to such an election, Tsai needs to rely more on those in the DPP who have taken part in and know how to run a national campaign

Liu Shih-chung is a senior research fellow at the Taipei-based Taiwan Brain Trust.

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