Tue, Mar 09, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Election polls suggest photo finish

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two polls released yesterday put President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) slightly ahead of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and indicate that young voters will play a key role come election day.

The latest poll from Taiwan Thinktank, which commissioned the Shan Shui polling firm to conduct the survey, found that Chen had a 0.9 percent lead over Lien, with 40.4 percent support compared with Lien's 39.5 percent.

"It is the first time for Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) to win support over 40 percent, which is Chen's highest ever performance rating," Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a political analyst and an assistant fellow of politics at Academia Sinica, said yesterday.

"Meanwhile, support for Lien and his running mate [PFP Chairman] James Soong (宋楚瑜) has also risen, which means the two groups of presidential candidates are running neck and neck in the polls," Hsu said.

In other words, Hsu said, the percentage of the undecided voters had been reduced, falling to 20.1 percent. According to the poll, most undecided voters are young people.

About 22.1 percent of voters from 20 to 29 years of age said that they will not vote.

"Young voters' support will definitely be the cake that the candidates contend for," Hsu said.

Hsu added the rival camps have been courting young people by touting an all-volunteer military.

Hsu said the two camps would be working to cement current support and win over undecided voters.

He added that negative campaigning would be another critical factor in the election.

Hsu said that fugitive and former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao's (陳由豪) accusations about Chen Shui-bian were an example. But he added that this incident had little impact on Chen Shui-bian's re-election since Chen Yu-hao failed to provide evidence of his claims.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,126 people was taken from Thursday to Saturday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.92 percentage points.

Central Election Commission regulations state that election polls cannot be released less than 10 days before the vote.

A poll conducted by students at Shih Hsin University was also released yesterday.

The survey showed no significant difference in support for Chen and Lien. It put support for Chen at 27. 3 percent and support for Lien at 27.1 percent. About 30 percent of students were undecided.

However, about 38.8 percent of students said they will not vote in the presidential election and about 29.2 percent of students said they will not vote in the referendum.

The poll questioned 1,152 college students who studied in the north of the country.

Chen I-shen (陳儀深), a research fellow of the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica, said yesterday that society should examine why college students are indifferent to politics and why they have little desire to understand the society in which they live.

KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said people should ask whether students' indifference to politics shows that Taiwan is highly democratized or whether there's still a lot of room to deepen the nation's democracy.

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