Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hsieh: Seriousness in the poll laughter

A-gu found this wonderful UDN poll showing that Ma Ying-jeou is going to eat Hsieh alive. UDN (United Daily News) is a pro-KMT paper. Polls in the pro-KMT papers are notoriously inaccurate, as pro-Greens either lie or don't reveal their choices when faced with Blue pollsters. Nevertheless, note two things. If this is within a few percentage points on Ma, then Hsieh is probably leading Ma once all the Green votes come in. A recent New Taiwan poll A-gu pointed me to had Hsieh up on Ma 53-47 or so. Anything could happen, though.

In 1998 Hsieh ran against Wu Den-yih for mayor of Kaohsiung in what was a very typical Taiwan campaign, featuring a close result, unmitigated viciousness, and an incompetent and divided Blue team supporting an indifferent campaigner who had accomplished little in office. Wu at first announced he was not going to run, then he was shoved into the post by Party elites, and rivals for the candidacy contested the nomination process (sound familiar?). Later Wu would concede that his campaign was hasty and ill-organized, and the KMT, confident it had Kaohsiung locked up, transferred resources to what it perceived as the more difficult election, Ma Ying-jeou's campaign against the popular Chen Shui-bian in Taipei. Wu was also hurt by the (probably true) perception that he had done little for the city (academic article on the 1998 elections).

Wu attacked Hsieh for belonging to a religious cult whose leader was a transparent fraud, and hacked on him for acting as the lawyer of the accused killer of the daughter of popular entertainer Pai Bing-bing in what was probably the most important single murder case of the 1990s, comparable in social impact to the OJ Simpson case in the US. Wu's campaign distributed 80,000 copies of a video by the entertainer in the Kaohsiung area. Wu himself later denied having anything to do with the effort. But it apparently backfired.

Despite failing the first time around, those accusations will undoubtedly be dredged up again, along with the Thai Worker Riot Scandal and the Kaohsiung MRT scandals (the real scandal was that nobody did anything for the foreign laborers). However, one good thing the obsessive focus on Chen Shui-bian that the last few years have seen did for the DPP was take everyone else out of the spotlight. Everyone was suprised when Hsieh did strongly in Taipei in the recent mayoral election there. Consider that the KMT (and probably its Chinese allies as well) spent a fortune on the Shih Ming-teh anti-Chen campaign, only to have the campaign reflect negatively on then Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, not have much effect on the mayoral elections, and expend resources attacking a politician who can't run for the Presidency again. Meanwhile the other DPP politicians have prospered as everyone bitches about Chen.....



11 comments:

Biomed Tim said...

"Polls in the pro-KMT papers are notoriously inaccurate, as pro-Greens either lie or don't reveal their choices when faced with Blue pollsters..."

I've never understood why the pro-Green pursue this as a legitimate strategy. From both a political psychology standpoint and a game theory standpoint, it makes no sense.

I think the REAL reason is because many pro-green supporters expect their candidate to lose, and therefore don't want to build up any real expectations. That way when their candidate loses by a smaller margin than original projections, they can still "save face" and tell the KMT how wortheless their polls turned out to be.

But this strategy is detrimental to ACTUALLY WINNING the election because you end up the voters that are either "undecided," (they're rare in Taiwan, but they do exist) or the voters on the margin, i.e. those that had little motivation to vote to begin with.

Michael Turton said...

Tim:

Actually, it is because of a cultural habit of silence in the face of the colonialist oppressor. Time and again I've been sitting in groups of Taiwanese where a single KMT supporter is pontificating and a dozen Greens are sitting around the table either smiling politely or simply being silent -- but no one is being challenged. Just the other day I was sitting with my passionately Green landlord and his wife, and the four of us were having a nice political chat when suddenly the wife shot out of her chair and ran to the door to look around. "I hope no one is listening," she said nervously. We were totally alone in her place of business.....

Habits of silence run deep. The Green papers run editorials on this problem from time to time.

Michael

zhj said...

Chinese Democracy in action: http://www.nu.tv/index.php?guid=1ec1d9345cf67924ce43be9c77d89712&category=

Taiwan is setting a bad example for the mainland. No wonder Beijing is rather looking to Singapore for a political model.

Chihwei said...

Excellent post!!
how does a foreigner knows so much about taiwanese politics! we all should be ashamed of ourselves.

Anonymous said...

提醒各位以下轉貼的對話在20:06秒開始
這裡有貼完整對話文字

國民黨立委吳育昇:馬英九選的是「台灣領導人」(央視訪談)
http://www.wretch.cc/blog/betchi&article_id=9030001

channing said...

Sir, there are good and bad things about Taiwan's democracy. Beijing can indeed learn many things from various governments, including ROC's.

Arty said...

Hey, where is the confidence interval percentage?

Biomed Tim said...

"...Habits of silence run deep..."

Michael, while I sympathize with your landlord's sense of oppression, I don't completely buy it as a good reason. I wonder if we may be giving ourselves excuses for bad habits.

Two things:

1. The pro-green supporters have no problem showing up for DPP-organized protests. If they can don green shirts and march down streets, why should they lie for polls?

2. Let us suppose that the history of oppression has permeated so deep into the culture that people are afraid to speak up, like you said. Well, I'd argue THAT is all the more reason to voice your honest opinions during polls.

Polls are designed to be anonymous. If the pro-green camp would voice their true opinions, then the REAL political dynamic of Taiwan will be revealed to all. Consequently, the KMT will NOT be able to enjoy an inflated sense of support.

I think it is precisely because pan-blue overestimate their legitimacy that many of them act like f*ckers.

In addition, if the poll results reflected Taiwan's political sentiments more accurately, then your run-of-the-mill reporter from the Economist or Reuters can report what's REALLY going on, i.e. which camp has how much support, and what the Taiwanese people really want, etc.

Not everyone is an expert like Michael Turton, so the average joe reporter will most likely just say Hsieh is trailing in the polls by a lot and that's all the rest of the world will read.

Raj said...

zhj

So you're saying Chinese have to resort to fighting if they disagree on a matter? That doesn't reflect very well on them does it, given other ethnicities manage democracy without fights.

If that is your view, maybe Chinese should address the problems that lead to these situations, rather than sweep them under the carpet by proposing repressive controls.

Anonymous said...

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Michael, while I sympathize with your landlord's sense of oppression, I don't completely buy it as a good reason. I wonder if we may be giving ourselves excuses for bad habits.

Two things:

1. The pro-green supporters have no problem showing up for DPP-organized protests.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I think Michael is right on the money with regard to the deeply embedded sense of fear of Chinese authority. Your observation of (1) (that pro-green supporters can be galvanized into holding large-scale protests) does not disprove his point. When there is safety in numbers, when people gather en masse for a common cause, they are able to cast off their immediate fears and restraints.


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
If they can don green shirts and march down streets, why should they lie for polls?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Because directly answering a poll question from an unknown and untrusted pollster is not the same experience as the relative anonymity of hiding within a crowd.

The same phenomenon occurs in the US, where political correctness reigns. A popular ethnic minority running for office will usually poll higher than what the actual election results indicate, because the man on the street wants to appear chic, cosmopolitan, and colorblind to a stranger.



<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
2. Let us suppose that the history of oppression has permeated so deep into the culture that people are afraid to speak up, like you said. Well, I'd argue THAT is all the more reason to voice your honest opinions during polls.

Polls are designed to be anonymous. If the pro-green camp would voice their true opinions, then the REAL political dynamic of Taiwan will be revealed to all. Consequently, the KMT will NOT be able to enjoy an inflated sense of support.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


While an important and praiseworthy goal, actually effecting such a change, and getting Taiwanese to answer more openly about their choices and predilections, is a very difficult task---about as difficult as reforming an alcoholic or treating a rape victim.

Simply asking someone to shape up or to "get over it" is rarely successful. It requires a great deal of time, a great deal of hard work, and a great deal of discovery for things to change.

Irwin said...

One thing I learned in college while working for Clinton 96 election campaign... you can get any desired poll outcome but controlled the sample of population. GOP groups were running wild with all kinds of polls showing Dole in the lead of very close but the outcome was not that close. What the GOP operatives were doing was skewing the sampling towards certain groups, like retired military, ex-burban households, rednecks, etc. while under sampling Blacks, urban whites, and students.

Just looking at the various Blue polls, you can tell right away that they never disclose their sampling method. Most of the time, they don't even give sample size.