Fri, Apr 29, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Tsai enters presidential race with lead

THE CHOICE Of YOUTH:Tsai Ing-wen polled 51 percent support among voters between 20 and 29, against 42 percent for Ma Ying-jeou, who was more popular among older voters

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

A combination photograph shows Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (L) and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou speaking in Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) contender Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is entering the presidential election campaign with a narrow advantage over President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), new media polls showed.

Tsai, who is to be nominated on May 4 after winning the DPP primary, leads Ma of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in two out of three major polls conducted on Wednesday evening, although the figures were within the margin of error — 1 percent or less.

In a United Daily News poll, Tsai led Ma by 37 percent to 36 percent, reflecting what the paper called a surge of public trust in Tsai’s administrative abilities.

However, Tsai lost points on people’s perception of how she would handle cross-strait relations.

She also lost points when people considered whether she could boost the nation’s economic competitiveness. The paper wrote that 28 percent supported her economic measures, against Ma’s 33 percent support.

A separate China Times poll gave Tsai a smaller lead in public support against Ma, 33.4 percent to 33 percent, although more people believed that the president would win his re-election bid.

While 38 percent believed that Ma would be re-elected, only 30 percent thought that Tsai would win the presidential election next year, the paper said.

Based on geographical area, more people in northern Taiwan support Ma — although his lead appears to have leveled off — but in the south, a DPP stronghold, overwhelming numbers support Tsai over Ma, the paper said.

In New Taipei City (新北市), where Tsai lost to Eric Chu (朱立倫) of the KMT in the mayoral election by more than 110,000 votes in November, the poll suggested that support for her and Ma was tied at 35 percent each.

Two in every five voters support Ma in Taipei against one-third for Tsai, but in Greater Kaohsiung, Tsai has 41 percent support against a dismal 26 percent for Ma, the poll showed.

A survey that gave Ma a slight lead over the DPP candidate, conducted by cable news station TVBS, showed that 41 percent supported the president — 1 percentage point more than Tsai’s 40 percent. The results were released late on Wednesday night.

Tsai commanded a convincing lead among younger voters, the segment least likely to vote, but lost ground with middle-aged and older voters.

She is supported by 51 percent of voters between 20 and 29, against 42 percent for Ma, but Ma led her by 8 percentage points, 48 percent to 40 percent, in the 40-to-49 age segment and by 12 percentage points, 47 percent to 35 percent, in the 50-to-59 age segment.

The Apple Daily, in a poll of 1,055 randomly selected respondents, meanwhile, showed Tsai garnered a 56.21 percent approval rate, while Ma received 29.38 percent.

The numbers are bound to give some confidence to Tsai, who was handed the DPP ticket on Wednesday after beating her main competitor, former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), in the party primary by just 1.35 percentage points.

However, DPP lawmakers were remaining cautious, saying that it is still too early to tell what the -numbers represent with the presidential campaign not yet underway.

“It’s a big encouragement for Tsai, but the DPP should not feel too good about itself yet, based on just these polls. The polls can only be used as a reference,” DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) said.

KMT lawmakers remained more reserved.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) acknowledged there was a chance that Ma “could lose” and said the KMT needed to be more “concerned.”

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