A public opinion poll released by a think tank yesterday showed that while most respondents believed that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is more capable of leading the country than President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), her support rate for the January presidential poll is still slightly lower than that of Ma. Experts urged the DPP to learn from this result and try to persuade people who believe Tsai is more capable to vote for her in the presidential election.
The Taiwan Thinktank, which is generally perceived as more sympathetic to the pan-green camp, conducted the poll on people’s opinions of the three presidential candidates: Ma, Tsai and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).
Respondents were asked to rate them in 10 categories. Tsai took the lead in six.
Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a political scientist at Soochow University, told a press conference yesterday that the poll results put Tsai in first place in the categories measuring perceptions on the candidates’ trustworthiness, attaching importance to people’s opinions, bringing change to Taiwan, upholding Taiwan’s interests, caring for disadvantaged groups and being uncorrupt.
Soong held first place in the categories measuring perceptions on the candidates’ resolve and communication and negotiation skills. Ma led in only one category — international perspective.
Despite Ma not taking the lead in most of the categories, Hsu said the poll found that he enjoyed a 39.5 percent support rate, with Tsai at 38.6 percent and Soong at 12.8 percent.
Meanwhile, when the respondents were asked to rate the three candidates’ positions on the issue of Taiwan’s independence or unification with China on a scale of one to 10, with one meaning faster unification between Taiwan and China and 10 meaning faster declaration of independence, the poll result showed that Ma scored 3.88, while Tsai scored 6.88 and Soong 4.6.
Respondents were also asked to rate themselves on the same question, which showed an average score of 5.97. That score was closest to Tsai’s score, Hsu said, suggesting that Tsai is considered “in the middle, leaning toward independence.”
Former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said at the press conference that Ma himself regards cross-strait relations and policies as his strong points, but the poll shows that Tsai’s position on the subject is closest to the public’s view on relations with China.
Lin added that it was strange that Tsai was trailing Ma in their support rate, although people believe she is more capable of leading the country than Ma.
“The DPP has to find out what affects Tsai’s support rate and make people supporting ‘Tsai the person’ change to supporting ‘Tsai the DPP presidential candidate,’” Lin said.
Former DPP lawmaker Kuo Cheng-liang (郭正亮) said there could be a number of reasons for the conflicting results.
People’s party affiliations might lead them to vote for Ma even though they think Tsai is better suited to hold presidential office, Kuo said.