With 29 days left until the presidential election, the latest poll conducted by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) yesterday showed President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) were neck-and-neck, with the difference in their support ratings falling within the poll’s margin of error.
The poll found that Ma had 34.5 percent support against Tsai’s 33. 26 percent. People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) garnered 10.81 percent.
The last three months have seen a heavy barrage of attacks and defense between the three parties, especially between the KMT and the DPP on issues such as Ma’s proposal if a cross-strait peace accord, a radical shift in the KMT’s stance on the farmers’ subsidy and the Yu Chang Biologics Co case, in which the KMT accused Tsai of a conflict of interest.
Survey results show that all of these issues have influenced the support ratings of the candidates.
According to the six polls conducted by the Liberty Times since September, support ratings for Ma and Tsai have seen the biggest fluctuations, causing great uncertainty about the outcome of the election.
Polls show that as many as 24.43 percent of voters are still undecided.
Cross-analyzing support ratings based on age groups in the Liberty Times poll showed that Tsai has an advantage in the younger age groups.
In the 20 to 29-year-old age group, Tsai had a support rating of 33.76 percent compared with Ma’s 25.29 percent. In the 30 to 39 age group, Tsai’s lead over Ma has increased to 13.3 percentage points.
Cross analysis based on geographical area shows that although the north has traditionally been a strong area for the KMT, Tsai is not absolutely at a loss in the region as she is only trailing Ma by 1.83 percentage points in New Taipei City (新北市).
The poll was conducted during the evenings from Tuesday to Thursday via telephone and it was based on a random sample of home phone numbers. The pollsters interviewed 1,461 voters and the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.56 percentage points. The Liberty Times funded the poll.
Commenting on the poll, KMT Culture and Communication Committee director Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲) said the party would do its best to canvass votes in the next few weeks.
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) suggested the presidential election was a 50-50 tie. He said the party would use the poll as reference material.
PFP spokesman Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said that all polls were for reference only.
Additional reporting by Peng Hsien-chun and Shih Hsiao-kuang
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer