An opinion poll conducted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) showed DPP Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) leading President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) by a slim margin and the party making headway in some “traditionally unfriendly” areas, such as the northern and central parts of the country.
Tsai had a 50.1 percent support rate over Ma, who is running for re-election in January, who has 49.4 percent, Tsai’s campaign spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) said, citing poll figures.
The neck-and-neck results were not surprising, as most of the recent surveys showed Tsai and Ma engaged in close battle, but the DPP found some inspiring numbers in the poll.
Among those who identified themselves as swing voters — seen as one of the most crucial electoral groups — Tsai led Ma by about 10 percentage points.
In central Taiwan, including Greater Taichung, Changhua and Nantou, the DPP succeeded in narrowing the gap with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to less than 3 points, about the same margin as when DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) lost to Greater Taichung Jason Hu (胡志強) in the special municipality elections in November last year, Hsu said.
In the KMT’s strongholds of Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市), the DPP trailed the KMT by 3.2 points, which was probably the closest margin the DPP has ever achieved, she said.
With the party still enjoying a 15 to 20 points advantage in southern Taiwan, the DPP is cautiously optimistic about its chances in the presidential election, Hsu said.
Tsai also holds a comfortable lead among first-time voters, numbering about 1.28 million, Hsu told reporters.
However, the survey also found some areas the DPP needed to work on.
The DPP said it still had to work on four groups of voters: those between the ages of 30 and 40; those who live in suburban areas such as New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Changhua; female office workers; and housewives.
The DPP also cannot afford to underestimate the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which has been at odds with its ally, the People First Party, in what has been described as a potential split in the pan-blue camp, said Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀), a senior aide who is in charge of the campaign operation.
“The sparring could end up with stronger solidarity among pan-blue supporters and hurt us. The presidential election is still five-and-a-half months away. You never know [what will happen],” Lin said.
The survey collected 5,500 valid samples and had a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percent.