The latest poll conducted the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) shows President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) locked in a close race for the presidency.
The telephone poll, conducted by the Liberty Times Polling & Survey Center from Monday to Wednesday, showed 36.1 percent supported Tsai, while 35.6 percent supported Ma.
A comparison with a poll conducted by the Liberty Times last month showed the gap between Tsai and Ma grew from 0.44 percentage points to 0.5 percentage points, suggesting events in the past month have not caused a dramatic change in support for either camp.
Controversy over DPP vice presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan’s (蘇嘉全) farmhouse has harmed Tsai’s momentum, but Tsai’s 11-day campaign trip along the nation’s No. 1 Provincial Highway managed to regain some of that momentum, the survey showed.
The poll suggested Tsai’s momentum was further solidified by the DPP’s response to Ma’s proposed cross-strait peace accord and referendum.
Ma’s re-election campaign appeared to have been boosted by the “golden decade” policy platform he began unveiling late last month and KMT legislators’ attack on Su’s farmhouse.
However, the poll also showed that Ma’s support stalled or even dropped after he proposed signing a peace accord with China within the next decade and his subsequent wavering over obtaining public approval through a referendum, causing him to lag slightly behind Tsai.
If People First Party (PFP) presidential hopeful James Soong (宋楚瑜) were to participate in the January presidential election, Ma’s support would fall to 31.91 percent and Tsai’s to 30.28 percent, each losing 3.69 and 5.82 percentage points respectively, the poll suggested, showing that Soong would get 11.13 percent of the vote.
In the first-time voters group, who range between 20 and 29 years of age and whose votes Ma and Tsai are fighting hard to win, 33.14 percent supported Tsai, while 26.74 percent supported Ma, with Tsai’s lead jumping from 1.65 percentage points in the last poll to 6.4 percentage points in the current poll
More than a third, or 37.23 percent, of the respondents were satisfied with Ma’s policy implementation, but there 39.29 percent of the poll’s respondents expressed dissatisfaction or extreme dissatisfaction.
The poll collected 1,410 samples and has a 2.61 percent margin of error. It was conducted by using random selections of the last two digits of home phone numbers in the Taiwan-Fujian region, with the Liberty Times funding the poll.
In response to the poll, KMT Culture and Communication Committee Director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) said the KMT “has no comment,” but added that based on other media and the KMT’s own poll results, the KMT’s presidential ticket is still in the lead and going strong.
Meanwhile, DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that whether the election was only between DPP and KMT candidates, or if it were a three-way race between the KMT, DPP and the PFP, polls show that the DPP and KMT candidates are even.
“Ma’s cross-strait policies show rash, mercurial shifts and so lack the trust of the people,” Chen said, adding that on the other hand, Tsai’s campaign trip along the No. 1 Provincial Highway and her steady and logical way of explaining her policies have garnered the trust of the voters.
PFP spokesman Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said the polls show that Soong would pull as many votes from the DPP as from the KMT, adding that Soong’s slightly decreasing support resulted from rumors that Soong would not be participating in the election to its end.
Things would change after the petition passes the threshold, Wu said.
Additional reporting by Peng Hsien-chun and Shih Hsiao-kuang Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
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