The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday outlined six primary reasons for its loss in the presidential election last month and concluded that the party’s support rate took a dramatic hit in the final two weeks of the campaign.
However, the DPP decided to put on hold a thorough discussion of the future direction of its China policy, arguably the most important factor behind its loss, opting to focus on the “technical” side of the election in a Central Standing Committee meeting when outgoing DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) submitted a draft election review to the party.
“The review concluded that the following reasons contributed to our loss, including voters’ doubts about the DPP as a ruling party, a collaborated effort of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] and the Chinese Communist Party to use the cross-strait economy as a scare tactic and the KMT’s abuse of its administrative resources as campaign tools,” DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) told reporters after the three-hour meeting.
Also, many DPP supporters could not return to their hometowns to vote because the election was held one week before the Lunar New Year holiday, Lin said.
The last two reasons were a lower-than-expected turnout rate and tactical voting, which saw pan-blue voters choosing to “abandon” the People First Party’s (PFP) presidential candidate, Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), and vote for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT instead, Lin said.
The committee agreed that the KMT had run a more “technically successful” campaign in terms of crisis management and campaign tactics, as well as communications, Lin added.
The review contained two parts — an analysis of the change of the DPP’s support rate throughout the entire campaign and opinion polls conducted after the election, as well as an analysis of the DPP’s campaign strategy and policy.
The review found that Tsai had pulled ahead of Ma at least four times during the final six months of the campaign and that she still enjoyed an advantage as late as the end of December last year, before the situation took a dramatic turn.
Results of the DPP’s final internal poll showed that Tsai trailed Ma by 4 percent, the party’s polling center director Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟) said.
Tsai lost to Ma by about 800,000 votes, or about 6 percent. She pledged to deliver a complete election report that would examine the campaign using a scientific approach, rather than assumptions.
The review also found that pan-blue supporters’ willingness to vote had gone up by 15 percent between November and Jan. 14, and that Tsai lost her edge among swing voters in a two-month period from early November onwards, Chen said.
In addition, statistics showed voter turnout in traditional KMT strongholds enjoyed larger increases of about 5 percent or 6 percent over those in the DPP-dominated regions.
The same phenomenon happened in urban areas, such as Taoyuan, New Taipei City (新北市) and Taipei, where the KMT enjoyed stronger support, Chen said.
In southern Taiwan, 19 percent of respondents in Yunlin and Chiayi counties, as well as in Greater Tainan, said at least one of their family members was not able to return to their hometown to vote, which was 7 percentage points higher than the national average of 12 percent, Chen said, citing results of a post-election survey.