2012 ELECTIONS: Poll shows turnout is key

MOTIVATED::When Taiwan Thinktank factored in the motivation of voters, its results showed that a higher turnout decreased Tsai Ing-wen’s chances of winning

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Mon, Jan 02, 2012 - Page 3

Voter turnout could be the deciding factor of the Jan. 14 presidential election and most people feel there will not be a shooting incident on the eve of the elections, the results of an opinion poll showed yesterday.

The poll, conducted by Taiwan Thinktank, found that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) trails President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) by 1 percentage point — 37.8 percent support compared with Ma’s 38.8 percent, with People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) receiving 11.6 percent, think tank director Kuo Chien-chung (郭建中) told a press conference.

The three candidates’ levels of support have not seen dramatic changes in the six polls the think tank has conducted since October, Kuo said.

However, among respondents who said they would definitely vote, Tsai received 42.1 percent support, giving her a 3.8 percentage point edge over Ma’s 38.3 percent support, while Soong’s support rate remained unchanged.

According to Tung Cheng-yuan (童振源), a professor at National Chengchi University, the primary reason for the different figures was that pan-green supporters are seen as having a stronger motivation to vote this year than pan-blue supporters.

When the desire to vote of those who expressed their political affiliation was factored into the calculation for the results, Tung said, a higher turnout appeared to work against Tsai, as her advantage slipped from 3.8 percentage points to 1.7 if the turnout increased from 72.6 percent to 80 percent.

Tung said all surveys have limitations and do not necessarily reflect real-life situations.

“First, it is very difficult to tell the intentions of undecided voters. Second, a large percentage of DPP supporters — those from a blue-collar, working class background in particular — are not likely to be polled because they are usually not at home,” he said.

The poll also found that 77 percent of the respondents said they were not concerned about the possibility of a shooting impacting the election. If it were to happen, 48.3 percent of those who polled said they would not accept the election results, while 45.2 percent said they would.

While Ma appealed to voters because of his experience, the poll showed that 48.8 percent of respondents said there should be a regime change, while 46.9 percent said a re-elected president does not necessarily result in a better performance in the second term.

“The results show that the ‘anti-Ma force’ — a combination of Tsai and Soong’s supporters — in Taiwan is stronger than the ‘pro-Ma force’ and, at the end of the day, Ma’s re-election will be determined by how the anti-Ma force is distributed,” said Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a professor at Soochow University.

The poll found that 83.7 percent of respondents do not think Soong will drop out of the race and 76.3 percent of Soong’s supporters said they would vote for him despite knowing his slim chances of winning.

According to the survey, 42.6 percent of those polled expect Soong’s final vote share to fall between 5 percent and 10 percent.

The survey, conducted between Friday and Saturday, collected 1,001 samples with a margin of error of three percent.