President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) almost tied in the latest Global Views magazine survey on public support for the two presidential candidates.
The poll, conducted from Wednesday to Friday last week, showed Ma with a 0.1 percentage point lead over Tsai, drawing a support rate of 37.3 percent against Tsai’s 37.2 percent.
Ma’s score was down 4.9 percentage points from the poll last month, when he scored 41.2 -percent against Tsai’s 36.3 percent.
About 74 percent of respondents said they would go to the polls in January, while the number of undecided voters rose to a three-month high of 25.5 percent, the poll showed.
Tai Li-an (戴立安), director of the magazine’s Survey Research Center, attributed the tie between Ma and Tsai to negative publicity afflicting both parties last week.
Growing concern about the Ma administration’s failure to address agricultural issues and an internal conflict arising from the DPP’s -legislator-at-large list were key factors behind the increase in the number of undecided voters, Tai said.
Overall, Tai said the polls did not show a significant change in the basic support base of the two candidates, while swing voters, who accounted for 4 to 5 percent of the electorate, were likely to play a major role in determining the election result.
On the two candidates’ cross-strait stance, 43.9 percent said they supported Ma’s Taiwan-China policy, while 35.1 percent disapproved of it.
A total of 73.8 percent said they had no knowledge of Tsai’s cross-strait policies, while 52.5 percent agreed that the DPP should adopt a more open policy toward cross-strait affairs.
The poll was conducted with a sample base of 1,229 voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.
Ma’s campaign office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said the Ma camp would take all poll results into reference, adding that the administration would continue to focus on giving the public a solid performance.
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the recent indictment of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) could have also contributed to the results of the poll, adding that there was growing public recognition of a political witch hunt against Lee Teng-hui.
Chen added that he believed Tsai’s election prospects would continue to rise, as support for the KMT in central and southern Taiwan weakens.
Speaking on the party’s internal surveys, DPP poll director Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟) said: “We have also noticed a similar trend in Ma’s support ratings, which are especially pronounced in Taiwan’s central and southern farming districts.”
Thousands of agricultural workers converged in front of the Presidential Office last week to protest against land expropriation. Earlier this month, banana farmers also complained to Ma about slumping fruit prices.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO
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