A new opinion poll suggests that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is maintaining a small but steady lead over President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in the race for the nation’s top post.
A survey in yesterday’s -Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) suggested that record low approval ratings for Ma and shifting attitudes among pan-blue voters could be contributing to Tsai’s slight gain.
Thirty-five percent of those questioned in the poll said they supported Tsai for president, with 31 percent backing Ma, eight months before the presidential election.
The 4 percentage point lead, slightly above the margin of error, is consistent with other recent media polls that suggest Tsai is slightly ahead in popular support.
A Global Views magazine “public mood” index released on Wednesday showed Tsai leading Ma 49.6 percent to 46 percent in a public trust index. Another Global Views poll earlier this month gave Ma a 0.3 percent lead in popular support.
Continued dissatisfaction with the Ma administration, which marked its third anniversary last Friday, could be part of the reason why Tsai is making slight gains. Only 36.04 percent approved of the administration’s performance, according to the Liberty Times
“It shows that negative public opinion outnumbers positive when it comes to assessing Ma’s entire administrative performance,” the paper said.
Self-described undecided voters are also leaning toward the DPP candidate, while only 67 percent of voters who said they voted for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the local elections last year still support Ma, the poll suggested.
However, 83 percent of those who voted for the DPP last year said they continue to back Tsai.
According to the poll, Tsai is also leading among younger voters — a demographic where both candidates have focused recent efforts. Among the 20-to-29 age group, Tsai leads Ma 36 percent to 24 percent.
“The [results] show that the people have felt nothing but disappointment and dissatisfaction with the Ma administration and its results over the past three years,” Tsai said while stumping in Nantou County yesterday.
However, with both presidential campaigns yet to officially start, she cautioned that the results are too early to provide more than a reference point. There was “still plenty of time left” before polling day, she said.
KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓), at a separate setting yesterday, defended the efforts of the Ma administration to improve the economy and lower the unemployment rate among other achievements, and said the government would continue its work regardless of poll results.
“We take the results of every poll as a reference and the government will continue to work harder to improve its performance,” he said.
The Liberty Times poll was conducted by telephone on May 23 and 24. It sampled 1,021 respondents and has a margin of error of 3.07 percent.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MO YAN-CHIH