Wed, May 08, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Tsai campaign and Lai spar over telephone polling

By Su Yung-yao and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

President Tsai Ing-wen, center, makes “zongzi” (glutinous rice dumplings) while visiting the Gongliao District Fishers’ Association in New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Lin Hsin-han, Taipei Times

Controversy over whether the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should use cellphone surveys when nominating a presidential candidate yesterday sparked a battle of words between former premier William Lai (賴清德) and campaigners for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Lai and Tsai are competing in the party’s presidential primary.

Lai told Radio Taiwan International that he would oppose any move toward the incorporation of cellphone interviews in the polling sample, saying that the method is susceptible to fraud and statistical manipulation.

As the identities of cellphone users are not publicly listed, their inclusion in surveys could lead to fraud via the planting of fake samples, he said, adding that such polls have not been proven to be more scientifically accurate.

The DPP has already established that it would use landline-based polling to nominate a presidential candidate and to determine legislative candidates, Lai said.

“The primary process has already been prolonged, changing the rules so late into the game yet again would be harmful to democratic institutions and the spirit of the DPP,” he said.

“The public is not likely to form a favorable opinion of such a decision,” he said.

Speaking for the Tsai campaign in an official capacity, Ruan Jhao-syong (阮昭雄) said that nearly 30 percent of Taiwanese — or about 5.4 million out of 18 million voters — use cellphones instead of landlines.

“Using cellphones in polls is an international trend,” the former premier said, adding that 28 million registered cellphones should be more representative and tamper-proof than 4 million landline samples.

A large number of voters either do not own landlines or could not be reached by them, he said.

It would be unfair to exclude them from polls, he said.

According to the DPP charter, the only requirement for polls conducted to nominate a candidate is that they have to be “comparative” polls that pit hopefuls and likely opponents against each other, he added.

Asked whether he is worried that his stance would appear less up to date than Tsai’s, Lai said: “No, I do not believe that will be the opinion of Taiwanese society.”

Current polling methods can address the under-representation of young voters in landline polls by weighing the age group, making cellphone polls unnecessary, he said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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