Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Taiwanese working in China may secure KMT victory in Taipei mayoral race

10/22/2014 Taiwan Explorer
One has to have very strong guts to read all the way to the end of this shabby piece in the Want China Times, that sounds more like a campaign staffer mobilizing voters instead of a journalistic work. It's not hard to guess that this has upset me quite a bit. Since I'm good with numbers and statistics, let me simplify it for you: So according to Want China Times up to 4.9% of potential voters in the Taipei mayoral election live and work in China, which equals to around 70,000 people, and if we are to believe these numbers, then the total sum of voters in Taipei should be 1,428,571). 70% of Taiwanese working in China are believed to be KMT supporters, which would equal to around 49,000 potential voters for Lien. The article further claims that if they would've returned to Taiwan just to vote for someone, who's biggest achievement is being the son of the former chairman of the unpopular ruling party, he may secure a victory. On a first glance that seems to be less likely then sighting a yeti on Alishan, but in order to be fair, I decided to analyze these numbers published by the Want China Times.

Let's add more stats into the mix

An article in Focus Taiwan reports that an opinion poll conducted by the pro-Lien United Daily News from 4 days ago made following claims (my summary):

"Ko Wen-je would beat Sean Lien of the Kuomintang by a margin of 13 percentage points if the Taipei mayoral election were to be held now. 42 percent of Taipei City's voters favored Ko, compared with 29 percent favoring Lien. 26 percent of those surveyed remained undecided or would not reveal their preference, and the remaining 3 percent backed the five other candidates registered in the race."

The voter turnout in the 2010 Taipei Mayoral election was 70.65% (1,433,736 voters in total), which confirms Want China Time's number. Let's get to the analysis.

Now let the numbers do the magic

I want to answer following question: Based on the numbers that have been thrown around in the article, what would it take for Sean Lien to win this race?

Below is my calculation based on the assumption that:

- Expected number of total voters will be 1,428,571
- 70,000 voters work in China, all Lien supporters will come back to Taipei to vote
- The recent UDN poll of voters in Taiwan is accurate

I have also set most other assumptions in favor of Lien to show how difficult he will have it to secure victory. Let me stress that these numbers are speculative, they may highlight a certain trend and challenge, but they should not be understood literally.

The calculation

The most difficult thing here was to figure out how many of the undecideds will not vote for Lien or Ko, but for other less known candidates. I have put it at 3.87% (same as in the current poll, if we just focus on decided voters), assuming that the ratio will be preserved, but this is purely speculative, and chosen to give Lien favorable numbers.

The conclusion

Ko and Lien are basically competing for a pool of 339,574 undecided voters, and Lien needs to take 68.8% of these votes (or 233,595). He has to grow his current support 52.7% until November 29th. Achieving all this is not impossible, but it will surely be difficult, because everything points into the opposite direction right now. And my assumption is based on the fact that all Kuomintang supporters who work in China come back and vote for him, which is 49,000 people. If we take (based on these numbers) that an average round trip from a Chinese city to Taipei costs 200 USD, the cost of bringing all these people to Taipei to vote would be 9,8 million USD. I'm pretty sure that this money is peanuts for the Lien clan, but the logistics behind getting all of them here to vote will be a bigger challenge. And one thing is sure: They will not be the deciding factor. Lien needs to primarily focus on energizing people who actually live in Taipei, because they are the ones that are mostly unimpressed with him. It just doesn't look good for him regardless how we spin the numbers. I would not bet on Lien this year.

Sean Lien's got 99 problems but money ain't one.