Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Years! 13 days to go...

Love the Powershot S95s color accent function... it produces such interesting shots.

Remember when Ma promised to establish a Ministry of Ocean Affairs? -- no doubt the public's disappointment with that failure is behind is low satisfaction ratings.

The mother of former President Chen's wife has passed away. Chen is petitioning to be let out Jan 10, four days before the election. Hopefully the KMT will block this move. Hopefully someone from the DPP will take him aside and explain how he can negatively affect the elections if he opens his mouth. Hopefully some bright boy will solve all the problems by advising the family to move the funeral back five days....

Announce plans to privatize the Grand Hotel right before the election? Totally not political, says the ruling party. The opposition candidate accusing the ruling party of smears? The opposition candidate accused of benefiting from insider knowledge in a business deal? The president visiting the Spratlys with a month to go in the election denying that the visit had anything to do with the election? Those are all from 2008.... Yes, it's deja vu all over again here in 2012. And of course, like 2008, the US favoring Ma Ying-jeou (AP):
Washington has been lavishing attention on Taiwan, stepping up official visits and saying it will likely allow visa-free travel to the U.S. The moves are raising suspicions that America is trying to influence a tight presidential election here in January.

President Ma Ying-jeou has seized on Washington's favors, touting them as reasons voters should re-elect him. The Taipei Times, which supports his main opponent, Tsai Ing-wen, said in an editorial: "Foolhardy or malicious, inadvertent or by design, the U.S. has taken sides in next month's elections."
The reporter cites two longtime scholars and analysts of things Taiwan, June Teufel Dreyer and Arthur Waldron. It also contains the usual tiresome pro-Beijing slant:
By contrast, Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party supports formal independence from China, as opposed to the de facto independence Taiwan has now. Her predecessor as party leader, Chen Shui-bian, frequently angered Beijing — and gave America fits — when he was president from 2000-2008. Though Tsai has backed away from his brinksmanship with China, she has never publicly renounced independence.
"....she has never publicly renounced independence." Readers can understand how completely biased this is if you imagine some universe where in the mid-1980s AP writes of Vaclev Havel: "Though Havel has not angered Moscow and its Czech puppet rulers as much as his fellow travelers, he has never publicly renounced his support of democracy." Resistance to Soviet expansion? Huge approval for that. Resistance to Chinese expansion? Not so much, thank you. There's just no need at all for the last sentence of that paragraph..... AP could have put Tsai in context and neatly explained part of her appeal: "Like an increasing majority of Taiwanese, Tsai supports eventual independence for Taiwan." Or injected balance: "Tsai is known to support eventual independence for Taiwan, just as Ma has publicly stated on many occasions that he supports eventual unification." Or....

It must be said that the western media coverage this time around is not nearly as ugly as it was last time.

The Ma government made some interesting moves recently to shore up its election hopes. One was to announce that males born after 1994 will need to serve only four months of military service. This was immediately criticized as pandering to voters, which no doubt it was. Every government does this, the DPP did it in 2008. No doubt whoever wins will do it again in 2016.

Locally roads seem to be undergoing repairs all over the nation, and a section of the new expressway in eastern Taichung was opened on the 31st. The money taps are opening....

My man Drew remarked yesterday that now that Ma has stopped trying to win, he's doing much better. Let's hope this descent into the negative maelstrom two weeks before the election won't hurt the DPP too much.

Oh yeah, Happy 2012, everyone!
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Anonymous said...

The "everything but the kitchen sink" strategy of the KMT is looking desperate and disorganized. That could be a good sign for the DPP.

Another good sign might be the act that Ma and Tsai are statistically in a dead heat at the two week mark. The DPP usually polls 4-8 percentage points behind the KMT and either loses by a hair or pulls out a surprise. I recall Chen Shui-bian was polling 12% behind Lien in 2000 with two weeks to go.

The last good sign for the DPP is the relative quiet. I am not sure if anyone else has picked up on the silence, but in Taiwan elections, silence means a vote for the DPP. With all this silence, you might have forgotten an election is going on.

Michael Turton said...

I pray you are right.... but we didn't see that last bounce for Hsieh in 2008. Hopefully that was an anomaly.


Raj said...

Michael, in 2008 many people were proactively voting for change and therefore for Ma. So I'm not surprised that there was little swing-back to Hsieh. That said the polls did overestimate Ma's level of victory.

Interestingly the latest Taiwan Thinktank poll suggests that even on current polling Tsai would win as her supporters are more motivated. When looking at those certain to vote she has nearly a 4% lead. Of course KMT supporters may drag themselves to the polls, but others may stay away. And having motivated voters can only be a benefit.

Tracy said...

Hi Michael,

1. At least you should say R.I.P. first before directly going into analyzing the possible electoral impact of the death of Wu's mother.

Surly the KMT will approve Chen's visit--that makes them look good either way. However, Tsai may be more worried about the smear campaign than Chen's outing. No matter how strong pro-blue media is, they still have only 24 hours a day. Chen should have the wisdom to turn this into DPP's--and his--benefits.

2. Hsieh's support was at 2x% in pro-blue polls (roughly equivalent to 3X% in share of vote) in 2008. He got 42% in the end. That's still quite a bounce (actually, larger than Chen's in 2000 and 2004).

Tommy said...

I think the statistical dead heat depends on which polls you consult (I am not referring to Xfuture). The green polls show a statistical dead heat. The blue polls show Ma ahead by a margin that is larger than the margin of error. To me, this suggests that the spread might be somewhere in between. To influence things in her direction, Tsai needs to sway more centrist voters. Negative campaigning will not do this.

Tommy said...


I found that poll to be interesting too. I think it also should be noted that the poll says that the higher turnout is, the harder a win will be for Tsai. Subtracting the structural bias inherent in such polls, which may not take many pro-DPP, blue-collar voices into account, if we look at voter support alone, Tsai is probably behind Ma. So a very high turnout could be bad for Tsai. A middle turnout with many DPP supporters and fewer KMT supporters, would help.

Michael Turton said...

Turnout will be high -- vote buying is going to be rampant and the additional mobilized blue votes will hold their nose and vote for Ma.

Steve said...

Polls are interesting but if you're there, you should be able to get a feel for how things are going. What's your gut feeling? Taichung is the big battleground. What's the word on the street? That's something I can't gauge over here in San Diego so I'm curious what everyone there thinks.

Anonymous said...

My guess...

Right now it will be Ma by 1%

Tsai needs the groundswell of greens to start popping up at mass rallies to turn the tide and swing the cynical "me too-ers".

Anonymous said...

Taichung seems to be leaning Tsai in the areas that are undecided. Sadly, Su Chia-Cyuan has not been campaigning as heavily to shore up the support he garnered against Jason Hu. Taichung is incredibly dissatisfied with Hu and the DPP should be dragging the unpopular mayor out every chance they get.

Anonymous said...

The Grand Hotel is owned by the government? Forgive me for my ignorance as my Mandarin comprehension skills are that of an 8 year-old's, having immigrated to U.S. In 3rd grade. But the programs on CTI are harping on Tsai benefitting from selling shares or something, it's do blatantly pro-Ma the way the analysts are explaining it (even though I understand about 2/3 of it).

I don't understand why the U.S. would want a dominant China with both Hong Kong and Taiwan under it's empire. We should be weary like Japan when it comes to China's unchecked economic and military powers. Where is Hillary Clinton on this matter? I volunteered for her 4 years ago, I know she's better than this. I'm mad our foreign policy regardingTaiwan hasn't been more tactically constructed to benefit both the U.S. AND Taiwan.

San Francisco,CA

Feiren said...

I don't think the Wu family will postpone the funeral. They want Chen walking around in shackles so that his son Chen Chih-chung can rack up sympathy votes in Kaohsiung in his independent campaign for Legislator. My guess is that they could care less about Tsai's prospects for election. It's each clan out for their own as usual.

I'd be delighted to be proved wrong of course.

Taiwan Echo said...

“I pray you are right.... but we didn't see that last bounce for Hsieh in 2008. Hopefully that was an anomaly."

I think we did, Michael. The problem was that he was way behind, so the bounce didn't save him.

Anonymous said...

No way to gauge the word on the street in Taichung because all the pubs are closed. I think all the parking spots near the poll stations will be full too so I don't expect many people to actually vote. But why wouldn't Tsai win when the KMT is split between Soong and Ma?

Hans said...

I may be a bit more optimistic, but I really do think that Tsai is currently ahead by 5% or so. If you look at all the signs/polls and track them through their historical records, it's not hard to observe that the pan-green voters have always been underestimated by at the very least 7%. Global View survey was forced to shutdown apparently due to its unwillingness to tilt the results for KMT's favor, and that was even before the Yu Chang issue.

Another way is to look at Hsieh's votes in 2008, when pan-Green was lying breathlessly in their "shadow of death," and it was still 42%. Now with Soong in the game, who at the very least should be able to get 6% (a number lower than blue-media's poll). Do the math, As long as Tsai can climb 6% or more from Hsieh's run, that'd give her 48+% and the victory, leaving Ma at 46%.

Now, think just rationally. With all the momentum that Tsai's been accumulating over the last couple years and the mistakes that KMT's been trippin', can she or can she not gain 6% more from the votes than Hsieh in 2008 ?

Michael Turton said...

With all the momentum that Tsai's been accumulating over the last couple years and the mistakes that KMT's been trippin', can she or can she not gain 6% more from the votes than Hsieh in 2008 ?

The way I read it, the swing vote in the election is just ~10% of the electorate. Never mind what the academics say, only one survey counts: the election. In 2000 the two KMT candidates got 60% of the vote and the DPP got 40%. In 2004 the entire 10% swung to Chen and everyone got 50%. In 2008 the 10% swung back to Ma and he got a 17 point victory.

That means that Tsai rising 6% to 47% won't be enough unless Soong is in the race and maybe not even then. If Soong takes 10%, Tsai will probably win. But what if he only gets 4%-6%? Then Tsai has to reach 48% of the vote to win.

I agree, the numbers are cause for optimism. But the Office Stance of This Blog is Pessimism! Don't confuse me with facts! :)


Hans said...


Your 10% swing-vote theory makes sense only if you add that those votes on top of the so-called "base camp" votes.

I'd like to add that the the base camp votes are changing for both sides, with the DPP gaining steadily over the decade and vice versa. It was high 30's for the DPP in 2000, reaching 40 in 2004, and slightly less than 42 in 2008.

Am I confusing you with more facts?

Lorenzo said...

Your comment makes me assess the whole situation more carefully. I now think that the more Soong rakes in the more Tsai is hurt. Soong would not get the core-blue votes (48%). Instead, his votes should largely come from the 10% swing votes, which could have gone to Tsai if Soong is not here.

Tsai has the core-green vote (41%). She basically needs all the 10% swing votes to win.

I think Soong is here to help Ma to prevent the swing votes from going to Tsai. They both share strong pro China ideology after all. That blue media blaming Soong for Ma's vote-loss, I think, is just part of the drama, to make Soong look like a victim.

Has Ma lost any of the 48% core-blue votes? I don't see not a sign.

Michael Turton said...

Dammit Hans, you're making my head hurt...

Lorenzo, all polls agree that Soong gets the majority of his votes from Ma's base, with some independents.

Hans, I think you might be right, the core vote is rising, i think you overestimate its size, though. The DPP's last score in the legislative election was 37%, that is about right for the core. Maybe it has risen another three points since then.

Tommy said...

"In 2004 the entire 10% swung to Chen and everyone got 50%."

This statement is problematic for another reason. It is highly unlikely that all swing voters will vote one way or another. Someone will have decided to vote for Lien-Soong in the end. Don't forget that 2004 was a hotly contested election and both sides had considerable momentum. It wasn't an election where the choice would have been obvious to swing voters. Chen succeeded because, in the end, he persuaded just enough swing voters to support him. But a great number will have also chosen the blue camp. Tsai is in the same position as Chen was, absent the resources of the presidency and the benefits of incumbency. So she will naturally have an even tougher time. But it is possible that the green core has grown in the last 8 years, which could help Tsai squeak by. I share your pessimism because I am not sure that the rise in the core can compensate enough for capturing fewer swing voters in this particular case. But I wouldn't carelessly throw out numbers for the sizes of cores and swing votes. We really have no idea how big these numbers are at the time being. The real numbers might surprise us. This uncertainty is probably what makes the Ma camp worry.

t_co said...

Why is Chen speaking publicly bad for Tsai? What could he say, really?

Michael Turton said...

Who knows what he could say? He's a total wild card.

Readin said...

Obama bowed deeply to the Emperor of Japan, a man who got his title by being the son of the man for whom hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed. Obama bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia. (He did not similarly bow when he met the Queen of England.) He launched an illegal war to git rid of Gadaffy after Gadaffy had finally start to cooperate with the US on some issues, but refuses to take serious action against Syria, a country that has for decades supported attacks against US troops - as recently as the war in Iraq. Obama began his administration by undermining the Israelis in peace negotiations by taking a hard line against them - effectively ending those negotiations. Obama insulted the British, one of our three closest allies, with clumsy diplomacy After Brown presented Obama with a pen holder crafted from the timbers of the 19th century British warship HMS President (whose sister ship, HMS Resolute, provided the wood for the Oval Office's desk), Obama offered up ... 25 DVDs of American movie classics."

That Obama would attack our friends and support our enemies is no surprise. He seems to dislike America and Americans. It is only expected that he would dislike those who share our values of freedom and democracy.

Readin said...

In that article about Obama's support for Ma, you neglected to mention the excellent last paragraph (perhaps it was added later).

"Washington is intervening quietly in Taiwan's elections," said June Teufel Dreyer, an Asia expert at the University of Miami. "What the State Department seems to want is a gradual folding of Taiwan into (China) — a bit like watching one of those protoplasmic creatures oozing around and eventually incorporating its prey. No eagle sinks talons into fish or cat grabs struggling bird, just slow integration."

Election Watcher said...

My guess based on the latest polls: Ma leads by less than 1%.

Based on the 2008 election, I read Blue polls as follows: 70% of undecideds go to Green candidate, and 30% go to Blue candidate. Then, averaging the most recent TVBS, UDN and China Times gives something like Ma 47, Tsai 46.4 and Soong 6.6. The Ma-Tsai gap (0.6) matches the one in the Taiwan Thinktank poll (1.0) remarkably well.

I'm more inclined to believe the headline numbers than the sure-to-vote numbers in the Taiwan Thinktank poll. If we think that some pan-Green voters tell Blue pollsters that they are undecided, it's not too far fetched to think that the same people might tell Green pollsters that they're sure to vote when they're really not so sure. Taiwan Thinktank had 72.6% of sure-to-vote electors, while TVBS only had 64%.

Anonymous said...

You guys, the Future Event Prediction was forced to close down by Central Election Committee. It will stop voting from 17:00 Jan 3 till the election is over.

Anonymous said...

No polling for 10 days before the elections. Nothing scandalous about that.

Anonymous said...

Readin uses US Tea Party Logic: Obama bowed deeply to the Emperor of Japan, a man who got his title by being the son of the man for whom hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed.

I use Readin's logic: Obama also bowed to the Queen of England, whose country killed thousands of Americans seeking freedom from tyranny and obliterated Washington DC in a terrorist attack

Readin said...

Tea Party Logic:

1. Power corrupts

2. The power to take other people's money, spend other people's money, borrow against other people's name, and regulate other people's behavior corrupts.

3. The more such power the government is able to exercise, the more corrupt the government becomes. This can be seen though cozy relationships between Wall Street and politicians, the influence of lobbyists, corporate welfare, cozy relationships between union bosses and politicians, campaign finance problems, and vote buying through programs that redistribute wealth from taxpayers to others.

4. It is good policy for government to not spend far more than it takes in.

5. Taxation, regulation, and government spending beyond a small necessary amount usually weakens the economy and limits freedom by squeezing out the private sector.

Therefore, governments needs to spend less and regulate less.

How does that fit with the comments about Obama's undiplomatic behavior?

Readin said...

I did given a shortened version of the case for not bowing to the Emperor of Japan like you're his concubine but merely bending your neck a few inches for the Queen of England.

How about this: the President of the United States should treat foreign heads of state either equally, or based on what those states have done, or can be expected to do, for the US.

Yes, Britain did some nasty things to the US - that was 200 years ago. Japan did nasty things within living memory. British soldiers have fought and died alongside Americans in every major war since 1917. This includes WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The British have played important battlefield roles in those conflicts. While the British spilled blood, the Japanese have let their money stand in for them. It's just not the same. The Queen is also (or has it changed recently?) the head of state for Canada and Australia. Both of those countries' soldiers have also died alongside their American friends in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan, and Iraq.