Monday, November 07, 2011

TAPOD -- Damned Odd =UPDATEDX2=

Several media organs passed around a Taiwan Association for Pacific Ocean Development (TAPOD) poll.... here's the TT:
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) holds a 7.3 point lead over Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), a poll by the Taiwanese Association for Pacific Ocean Development (TAPOD) showed yesterday.


You said the poll appeared to refute analysts who said the DPP had recently gained momentum following several successful campaign rallies and fund-raising events, and that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was reeling after Ma’s talk of a possible peace pact with China.
Ma up by 7.3? Even the TVBS poll only has Ma up by six. Moreover Ma is downward trending in the prediction market this week (though he picked up yesterday) and bookies are now giving even odds with a spread of 300K votes. Further, no other poll has Tsai below 33 -- TAPOD has her at 30, meaning her support has been reduced to core pan-Greens. This poll is thus an outlier. Why?

The question about who will you vote for does not ask likely voters as other polls do. Instead, it asks the entire sample and gives a range of choices. -- not vote, protest vote (fei piao), wait and see, etc, along with Ma, Tsai, and Soong. Interestingly, Ma remains at 38, roughly where he is in other polls, and Soong at 9.7%, almost exactly where he is in other polls. The only real difference is the unusual gap here between Tsai's TAPOD numbers and those of other polls.

When asked who would win, 47% said Ma, just 26.9% said Tsai. In the prediction market, Tsai is about 2 points up on Ma. At the moment.... bookies have them even with a tiny spread. But in TAPOD the margin for predicted outcome is 20%.

Is this poll reliable?

On the instant replay:
You said the poll appeared to refute analysts who said the DPP had recently gained momentum following several successful campaign rallies....
Yep, it sure does refute that contention that everyone else is making.... what a coincidence, eh? If I were paranoid, I might think it was supposed to do that.

The differing sample is not mentioned in TT and other stories (FocusTaiwan). FocusTaiwan says that the TAPOD Sept poll had Ma ahead of Tsai by a point. So did GVSRC's public data at that time -- the private data had Tsai ahead of Ma.

The head of TAPOD is a former Vice MAC Chair from the Chen era (a speech). Its website in Chinese (台灣太平洋發展協會). Here is the dataset for its poll.

UPDATED: China Times poll for Nov 7 has Ma up by 4. Newly released Nov 4 TVBS poll has Ma only up by 3. Your guess is as good as mine as to how reliable this TAPOD poll is.

UPDATE 2: I have heard that Michael Ying-lung You, the head of TAPOD, like many other DPP members who make negative public comments about Tsai, was angry that he was not on the party list. I was told but can't verify, that TAPOD's funding comes from Wu Tse-chia (吳子嘉), another Tsai basher and chairman of 美麗島電子報 ( -- a website publishing political analysis and highly critical of the DPP.

As a friend put it, the fundamental reason behind all this is the DPP's lingering factionalism. We get this every election -- ike Yang Chiu-hsiung leaving the DPP in Kaohsiung for the mayoral election last year because he couldn't wait his turn. It is also fallout of the ridiculous "reform" of the legislature several years ago that reduced the number of seats, more heavily burdened legislators, and left fewer posts to be handed to party members.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Anonymous said...

What doesn't seem odd is that TAPOD is a not-for-profit organization with no clear mention of where most of its funding is derived from. This, in contrast to the now-defunct Global Views pollsters, whose funding, staff and any biases were well known.

Anonymous said...

Kind of interesting reading in papers today, when asked who would win. 40+% said Ma and 20+% said Tsai. It's really hard to figure out what's going on.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could find that Texas politician joke my friend sent me while back. Certainly interesting to see people fighting for positions rather than really wanting to do something. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable.


D said...

Any specific reasons to doubt this poll? Some interesting things in the responses, e.g.

1) Q5&6, on domestic social policy, Tsai comes out ahead, but she's still outweighed by the "don't know" and "all about the same" categories. Does this suggest apathy? Hopelessness? Lack of interest in government? Optimism?

2) Q7&8, by contrast, have Ma far in front on China and international policy, but about 1/4 of respondents still fall in the "don't know" and "all about the same". Stronger feelings than on domestic issues, but still -- hopelessness? Blind faith?

3) Q11&12: 38% say they will vote for Ma (about the same as those who say they feel more "comfortable" with him, in Q9), but 47% say he'll probably win. Michael pointed this out, but what's it mean? I'd say that second number probably doesn't mean much.

3) Q13: About 36% think Ma's going too far too fast with China, vs. 44% who think he's doing ok. I wonder if DPP can spell "backpedal"? How about "continue to reduce tensions" ;)

4) But Q14-3 is priceless. Q14 shows the usual strong support for Taiwan independence, either officially or de facto through "status quo". 14-3 then asks those "status quo" folks, what would you prefer if the status quo falls apart. 36% choose independence (ie, war), 24% choose unification (ie, peace) -- and 39%, a plurality, choose "maintain the status quo forever"! Ha ha ha!

That's like if someone said "you're dying tomorrow, do you want a Big Mac or a salad tonight" and 40% chose "Actually, I choose not to die tomorrow".

5) Q15: about 35% identify in some fashion with DPP, about 40% with KMT. The problem for DPP is that they have to find some way of distinguishing themselves from KMT, but avoid distinguishing themselves in a way that loses them more voters. How do they do that?

6) And in the backdrop of all of this, high percentages (Q2-4) say the economy sucks, has sucked and will continue to suck under Ma's watch. Lucky he's got charisma.

Any ideas?

Michael Turton said...

None, D. Actually I thought the questions reflected very Taiwanese answers. Unlike a lot of people I don't see any contradiction between supporting independence and voting for the KMT, because the polls that ask about independence never define it. Imagine if you could get a really fine-grained view of that.

Independent as ROC
independent as Taiwan Republic
Status Quo independence


I think you overstate the extent to which the DPP is like the KMT. I've evolved in my thinking on that too. On most economic issues they are neoliberal but not as bad as the KMT. But on many other issues where concern for Taiwan is necessary, from land planning to gov't transparency, they are quite different. Unfortunately they do not seem to be able to communicate these differences in ways that are accessible to the public.


D said...

I guess I just wonder if maybe the DPP _has_ communicated their distinctive policies to the public -- and the public doesn't really care. Then what? You have to convince more people that your issues matter to them. The two you mention, land use and government transparency, leave a lot of room for people to say "oh, too many regulations will muck up the economy" or "oh, transparency is easier said than done".

Here's one way of looking at it: to succeed a party has to mobilize its base and attract "swing" voters. That's two different audiences, but the KMT can get to them both with pretty much the same thing -- stable leadership, stable China policy, etc. For the DPP, they have go all out independence for their true believers and then veer back to something quite different to get the swing voters.

So it's a bigger challenge for them. Obviously they did it in 2000 and 04, though.

Anonymous said...

The strangest thing about this, and other polls for that matter, is why, when even diehard KMT supporters think Ma has been a poor president, is Tsai not ahead by 20 or 30 points?

The DPP should be spending their time and energy worrying about and fixing her poor performance head-to-head. She should be on track to win in a landslide.

John S said...

re. "very Taiwanese answers"

If I meet someone who tells me that they want to understand contemporary political debate in Taiwan, the first thing I would tell them is that although it appears (at least on TV and in the papers) that Taiwanese enjoy political discussion and debate, the vast majority of people do not-- because they have been conditioned throughout their whole educational experience to NOT care, not worry, not complain, and not ask questions about political issues.

A conundrum, because so many Taiwanese obviously love to debate and argue.

But were they ever taught to clearly define what it is they should be patriotic about. It is China? The Chinese race? The ROC? Taiwan? Some amalgamation of those concepts?? Related to this is the ambiguity of who the enemy is. The USA? The PRC? The DPP, KMT?

One of the results of this conditioning is that the most popular choice on those polls is always "status quo" —people actually feel that choosing ambiguity means they have actually taken a stand for something.

Political issues that (to outsiders) seem like they should be crystal clear, will be infinitely more interpret-able for Taiwanese depending on how they choose to define various factors. No issue is what it appears to be on the surface.

So, yes, this unique blend of ambiguity, apathy and spirited debate appears (to me) to be VERY Taiwanese!

Ben Goren said...

My concern is if there is a Presidential Debate, will Tsai do any better than in the ECFA debate? Obviously I hope she does but I wouldn't bet on it. Some great observations by D. and John above BTW. Don't forget the role of harmony in dampening the willingness of people to discuss politics. I feel many Taiwanese love to discuss politics but usually only with people they trust and who share a similar outlook.

Anonymous said...

John S,

The current books from elementary school through Junior middle school are very different from when I was that age. I think if Michael ever looks though his children's books while they were growing up, he would have some idea what they teach.

Basically, every body is taught to be patriotic to our Country (國家)which is established and operates under the constitution of the Republic of China. There is also some education on the structure of the legal and administration structures and responsibilities. However, by the time the children get through senior high, probably 70% of this is already forgotten. Lots of my friends in the US feel that taking the pledge of allegiance to the flag out of the classroom is very bad. I agree. If you don't pledge to keep your family and country together, basically you become a mob that gathers to make a mess the scatter when it's time to cleanup.

In Taiwan, most people like to debate on issues that they don't have a personal attachment to. I learned this when we worked with US companies, and because there was a group of engineers from Taiwan that were so attached to their own ideas, the situation got pretty bad that the program had to administer a cultural training class.

The "status quo" is taking a stand, and the stand is "we just like the political relations as it is now" This is reasonable because there is not enough detail of information to make a different selection since a different selection has so many uncertainties and speculation which may not make things better, and certainly do not have any practical analysis that guarantees that it will be better. So you select the option that you already trust. This is very natural and logical.


Anonymous said...

One of the things I find interesting about the "satisfied or not" question is that you can be dissatisfied, but if there is no better choice, you select the better. I am never satisfied with any of the candidates, but if I don't wish to be in their position, then I just select the ones I think better. Is this not common among most voters in the US or other democratic countries as well?

I think in the days when education level was not so high, people were more attached to the candidates emotionally. Now that emotion exists among smaller groups.