2012 ELECTIONS: Last DPP poll has Tsai ahead by 1 point

‘NECK-AND-NECK’::The poll showed that the DPP has made great strides in northern and central Taiwan, but voter turnout may be the deciding factor on Jan. 14

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Tue, Jan 03, 2012 - Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) leads President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election in the Jan. 14 presidential election, by about 1 percentage point, or between 100,000 and 150,000 votes, in the party’s latest survey, the DPP said yesterday.

The party estimated that almost 99 percent of the electorate have decided who they would vote for two weeks before election day, and turnout rates would be one of the deciding factors.

DPP poll director Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟) briefed reporters on the poll yesterday to meet the Jan. 4 deadline for publishing and discussing public opinion polls, as regulated by the Central Election Commission.

The vote share simulation was actually an aggregation of regional polls, which were conducted in 69 of 73 legislative districts nationwide between the middle of November and late last month, and collected more than 70,000 samples, with different variables added in.

The simulation found that Tsai led Ma by more than 450,000 votes in Yunlin, Chiayi and Greater Tainan and about 300,000 votes in Greater Kaohsiung and Pingtung, Chen said.

The DPP presidential candidate trailed Ma by about 250,000 votes in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市), by less than 300,000 votes in Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli and by less than 100,000 in Yilan, Hualien, Taitung and the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, he said.

Tsai trailed Ma by about 50,000 votes, or 3 percent, in central Taiwan, he said, adding that the region “could be a toss-up, given the tight race.”

Compared with the 2008 presidential election, Chen said the DPP has made great strides in northern and central Taiwan, in particular New Taipei City and Taoyuan.

Ma has lost more than 1 million of the 7.56 million votes he won four years ago, while Tsai has garnered more than 1.2 million votes for her party, despite trailing by a slim margin among female voters, Chen said.

The DPP has also fared much better in urban areas and was able to win support from voters in the 20 to 35 age bracket, who suffer more from low social mobility, high unemployment and high housing prices.

However, voter turnout could be a deciding factor in the election, with traditional wisdom arguing that high turnout rates benefit the KMT, he said.

Chen predicted the turnout rate would fall between 76 and 78 percent this year, higher than the 76 percent in the 2008 presidential election.

Other variables that could impact voter turnout and the outcome of the tightly-contested race include vote-buying, the weather on Jan. 14 and the number of people who return to their hometown to vote.

Since the simulation was an aggregation of polls rather than a national poll, it was difficult to calculate the margin of error, he said.

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) is expected to secure between 5 percent and 6 percent of the vote, said a DPP source, who wished to remain anonymous.

The source said large-scale “strategic voting” behavior is not expected, with about 70 percent of Soong’s supporters expected to stick with him to the end.