The DPP won a smashing victory over the KMT two weeks ago. If those results are duplicated in the legislative elections coming up in a mere 13 months, the DPP will take firm control of the legislature. Of course, you can’t assume that the mayoral vote will be replicated. For one thing, all those national issues (ie: 92 Consensus) that largely stayed off the agenda will be unavoidable in 2016. For another, the candidates will be different. The KMT will be fielding a roster of quality incumbents while the DPP will have a higher share of unproven challengers. Still, these results should scare the pants off of some incumbent KMT legislators. In this post, I’m going to look at who should be the most terrified.
In 2012, the DPP won 40 seats and the TSU took 3, so the green camp needs another 14 seats to win a majority. They probably shouldn’t count on keeping the Taitung seat, since the KMT vote might not be split next time. So let’s see how likely it is that the DPP can win 15 more seats.
Legislators will be ranked from one to four, with four exclamation marks being the most alarmed.
Lin Kuo-cheng 林國正, Kaohsiung 9 (!!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 32.3%; 2012 Tsai: 56.1%; 2014 DPP: 71.6%
Weng Chong-chun 翁重鈞, Chiayi County 1 (!!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 49.7%; 2012 Tsai: 58.8%; 2014 DPP: 60.0%
Chang Chia-chun 張嘉郡, Yunlin 1 (!!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 49.6%; 2012 Tsai: 56.2%; 2014 DPP: 55.6%
Wang Chin-shih 王進士, Pingtung 2 (!!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 51.5%; 2012 Tsai: 51.1%; 2014 DPP: 59.7%
Huang Chao-shun 黃昭順, Kaohsiung 3 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 46.1%; 2012 Tsai: 46.6%; 2014 DPP: 63.7%
Lin Kuo-cheng holds the Kaohsiung 9 seat because Chen Shui-bian’s son split the DPP vote. This district is so solidly green that the DPP might take it back even if they split the vote again.
Weng Chong-chun and Chang Chia-chun won improbable victories in 2012. If this election is any indication, they won’t be able to repeat that feat in 2016. In 2014, Weng ran personally and Chang’s aunt ran in Yunlin. Both were resoundingly thumped in their own legislative district. Chang’s father has already announced the family won’t be running for re-election. I expect Weng will give it a try, but he is trying to run up an ever steeper hill. At least he should be facing a weaker opponent.
Wang Chin-shih has somehow managed to retain his seat for two terms. This is not an overwhelming DPP district like the previous three, but it was already green in 2012 and will probably tilt even greener by 2016. The KMT had a competent candidate in Pingtung, but he could barely manage 40% in this district. Wang should be terrified.
Huang Chao-shun is the only KMT legislator in the south with a reasonable shot at keeping her seat. This district went roughly as green as the entire country in 2012, which was not enough to win the presidency or this seat. However, Huang should probably be alarmed by the unfathomable 63.7% Chen Chu won in this district. Chen won such an enormous victory that it is hard to imagine how it will translate to the next election. Some of those people will certainly go back to the KMT, but some probably will not. Huang needs an awful lot of people to return to the KMT fold in 2016.
Ma Wen-chun 馬文君, Nantou 1 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 38.6%; 2012 Tsai: 40.4%; 2014 DPP: 52.0%
(open seat), Nantou 2 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 45.7%; 2012 Tsai: 44.1%; 2014 DPP: 46.3%
Wang Hui-mei 王惠美, Changhua 1 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 35.0%; 2012 Tsai: 47.5%; 2014 DPP: 53.8%
Lin Tsang-min 林滄敏, Changhua 2 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 44.5%; 2012 Tsai: 44.1%; 2014 DPP: 47.9%
Cheng Ju-fen 鄭汝芬, Changhua 3 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 44.1%; 2012 Tsai: 48.0%; 2014 DPP: 54.2%
Yen Kuan-heng 顏寬恆, Taichung 2 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 40.2%; 2012 Tsai: 45.3%; 2014 DPP: 58.6%
Yang Chiung-ying 楊瓊瓔, Taichung 3 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 37.4%; 2012 Tsai: 47.2%; 2014 DPP: 59.5%
Tsai Chin-lung 蔡錦隆, Taichung 4 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 46.3%; 2012 Tsai: 40.7%; 2014 DPP: 53.3%
Lu Hsiu-yen 盧秀燕, Taichung 5 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 40.9%; 2012 Tsai: 41.0%; 2014 DPP: 53.2%
Chiang Chi-chen 江啟臣, Taichung 8 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 39.5%; 2012 Tsai: 47.1%; 2014 DPP: 58.0%
The DPP won a higher vote share in Nantou 1 this year, but Nantou 2 has always been the better target for them. Nantou 1 has an entrenched incumbent, and Puli is famous for rallying around native candidates. Nantou 2, however, is now an open seat, and without Lin Ming-chen 林明溱 to hold down the fort, it should ripe for the picking. The DPP needs to win this sort of district, in which Tsai Ing-wen got 44% or more, if they are to win an overall majority. Fortunately for them, they will get a shot to win the seat in a by-election, where conditions tend to favor the DPP. Assuming the DPP wins Nantou 2 now, it will have an incumbent defending the seat in 2016 and might be hard to dislodge.
In Changhua, the KMT has three seats, and the Changhua 4 seat has now become open. In the presidential election, Changhua 4 was not the DPP’s best district. Rather, Tsai was slightly stronger in both Changhua 1 and Changhua 3. The KMT incumbents in both of those districts should be extremely concerned. Changhua 2 might be a little different. This has always been a more blue-leaning district, and Lin Tsang-min will be defending his seat. On the other hand, Lin lost his home district in 2014, so he can’t be too confident. My guess is that, if you strip away all the influences of individual candidates, districts 1, 3, and 4 are currently leaning toward the DPP with district 2 just about a tossup. However, candidates matter a lot in places like Changhua, and the KMT will be fielding three incumbents. The DPP might beat them, but they won’t go down without a vigorous fight.
There are eight districts in Taichung which can roughly be divided into two groups. Districts 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 were all fairly close in both 2012 and 2014. Tsai won about 46% and Lin Chia-lung got about 58% in all of them. The DPP currently holds three of these seats (1, 6, and 7), and it should vigorously contest the other three. The District 8 incumbent, Chiang Chi-chen, seems the most likely to fall, as there have been rumblings that the local factions have not been happy with him. In District 3, Yang Chiung-ying has been in the legislature since 1998, and she was in the provincial assembly for a couple of terms before that. She has very deep connections running throughout the district. However, precisely because she is so deeply entrenched in clientelistic politics, she might be vulnerable to the same sort of wave that drowned Sean Lien and John Wu this year. In District 2, the Yen family seems to be dug in. They managed to transfer the seat from the father to the son in a by-election last year even though by-elections in this political climate tend to overwhelmingly favor the DPP. In a general election, the DPP will have an even harder time overcoming the unique appeal of the Yen family. To unseat them, the 2016 presidential candidate might need to replicate Lin’s 58.6% performance in this district. In both 2008 and 2012, the DPP has utterly failed to challenge Yang or Yen. If they are serious about these seats, they have to find more capable candidates than the cannon fodder they have previously presented to the electorate. It might be that the top quality candidates were scared off because the races looked nearly impossible. That should not be as much of a barrier in 2016.
The other two Taichung districts are much bluer. Lin won Districts 4 and 5 with about 53%, while in 2012 Tsai could only manage about 41%. These are the richest parts of the city, and they also have a higher proportion of Mainlanders than any other district. Even assuming the current anti-KMT wave is most intense in the most urbanized areas, I don’t expect the DPP to be able to take District 5 from Lu Hsiu-yen. Tsai Chin-lung in District 4 looks much weaker. He only won re-election in 2012 by a 54-46 margin, and he will probably face the same strong opponent (Chang Liao Wan-chien 張廖萬堅) again in 2016.
New Taipei City
Wu Yu-sheng 吳育昇, New Taipei 1 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 42.4%; 2012 Tsai: 42.5%; 2014 DPP: 46.6%
Lee Hung-chun 李鴻鈞, New Taipei 4 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 46.6%; 2012 Tsai: 48.8%; 2014 DPP: 54.2%
Huang Chih-hsiung 黃志雄, New Taipei 5 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 45.7%; 2012 Tsai: 47.4%; 2014 DPP: 52.5%
Lin Hung-chih 林鴻池, New Taipei 6 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 45.9%; 2012 Tsai: 47.1%; 2014 DPP: 52.4%
Chiang Hui-chen 江惠貞, New Taipei 7 (!!!)
2012 LY DPP: 42.8%; 2012 Tsai: 45.9%; 2014 DPP: 51.7%
Chang Ching-chung 張慶忠, New Taipei 8 ( )
2012 LY DPP: 39.8%; 2012 Tsai: 37.5%; 2014 DPP: 43.5%
Lin Teh-fu 林德福, New Taipei 9 ( )
2012 LY DPP: 27.6%; 2012 Tsai: 31.3%; 2014 DPP: 37.1%
Lu Chia-chen 盧嘉辰, New Taipei 10 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 43.4%; 2012 Tsai: 44.8%; 2014 DPP: 50.1%
Luo Ming-tsai 羅明才, New Taipei 11 ( )
2012 LY DPP: 33.4%; 2012 Tsai: 32.9%; 2014 DPP: 38.3%
Lee Ching-hua 李慶華, New Taipei 12 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 35.9%; 2012 Tsai: 42.2%; 2014 DPP: 47.0%
KMT legislators from New Taipei have to look at the 2014 results differently than their colleagues from other cities or counties. In New Taipei, the pre-election consensus was that the KMT had an extremely popular candidate running against a lackluster DPP candidate. Eric Chu, with all of his personal popularity, barely survived this election. In places like Kaohsiung or Taichung, it is unlikely that the DPP can replicate such impressive numbers in future elections. In New Taipei, after stripping away the 2014 candidates’ personal influences, the DPP vote shares might actually be too low. Every KMT legislator has to ask him or herself, “Am I as good as Chu and will my opponent be as lousy as You?” The answers aren’t encouraging for the KMT in 2016.
Districts 8, 9, and 11 are safe KMT districts. In 2014, these three districts won the election for Chu. The Xindian Luo family’s seat is far safer than the Yunlin Chang family’s or the Taichung Yen family’s seat. (Quick quiz: What is the common thread tying those three families together?) In Zhonghe, Chang Ching-chung will go down (as a footnote) in history for triggering the Sunflower movement. However, the Sunflowers and their supporters would be wise to direct their energies elsewhere, since the New Taipei 8 seat is unwinnable. KMT supporters might not want to be too happy about having these three safe seats. One of the classic gerrymandering strategies is to pack all of your opponent’s strongest neighborhoods into one district. Assuming the overall balance of power is roughly even, by sacrificing that single district, you can win by a small margin in all the other districts. New Taipei City is a natural DPP gerrymander. If the DPP can get to 50% overall, it will win more than half of the seats. In 2014, even though the KMT won New Taipei by 1.3%, the DPP won 7 of the 12 legislative districts.
Districts 1 and 12 are the other two that Chu won a majority in. In previous elections, these have usually been solidly blue. In 2014 Chu won by a surprisingly small margin, especially in District 12, which is mostly Xizhi. This should serve as a wake-up call to Wu Yu-sheng and Lee Ching-hua. They should probably still be able to win, but it is by no means an automatic victory. After 22 years in the legislature, if Lee doesn’t still have the energy to fend off a serious challenge, this might be a good time for him to triumphantly retire.
Districts 7 and 10 are similar and are right on the border between two and three exclamation marks. They are also adjacent to each other, since Tucheng (D10) abuts the southwestern part of Banqiao (D7). These are also just about the median districts nationally, in that one of them might be the 57th seat for one of the parties. Both of these incumbents are fairly anonymous nationally but have spent a lot of time working the district.
Districts 4, 5, and 6 are the most likely dominos to fall. District 6 (northeast Banqiao) will be particularly interesting. A year and a half ago, Lin Hung-chih might have been my choice as the most likely KMT nominee for New Taipei mayor in 2018. However, the last year and a half have not been good for him. He was the KMT whip during the September Struggle and the Sunflower movement. He did much of Ma’s dirty work in the legislature, and Ma tried to use him to bypass Speaker Wang. After resigning the whip position, Lin complained that he had not wanted to do these things but he was obliged to do what the party demanded. Nonetheless, the DPP will almost certainly try to paint him as Ma’s puppet and ask voters to reject Ma. In past elections, Lin’s personal popularity has masked the fact that his district is by no means solidly blue. In 2016, he should be terrified that his willingness to follow Ma’s orders might cost him what looked like a promising political career.
Chen Ken-te 陳根德, Taoyuan 1 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 44.7%; 2012 Tsai: 42.7%; 2014 DPP: 55.6%
Liao Cheng-ching 廖正井, Taoyuan 2 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 49.8%; 2012 Tsai: 44.6%; 2014 DPP: 51.3%
Chen Hsueh-sheng 陳學聖, Taoyuan 3 (!)
2012 LY DPP: 39.9%; 2012 Tsai: 36.4%; 2014 DPP: 46.9%
Yang Li-huan 楊麗環, Taoyuan 4 (!!)
2012 LY DPP: 40.6%; 2012 Tsai: 41.1%; 2014 DPP: 56.4%
Lu Yu-ling 呂玉玲, Taoyuan 5 (!)
2012 LY DPP: 35.1%; 2012 Tsai: 36.1%; 2014 DPP: 47.0%
Sun Ta-chien 孫大千, Taoyuan 6 (!)
2012 LY DPP (ally): 31.3%; 2012 Tsai: 37.8%; 2014 DPP: 49.0%
This glance at Taoyuan is a reminder of just how unlikely Cheng Wen-tsan’s mayoral victory was. He built his winning coalition on a very weak DPP foundation. One of the most important questions for Taiwan’s future is whether the 2014 election was a one-time freakish event based on the personal failings of John Wu or whether these results reflect real underlying changes in the electorate and can be replicated in the future. My hunch is that future elections will look more like 2012 than 2014, but, as the wag quipped, predictions are always shaky – especially the ones about the future.
In the past, District 2 (coast) has been the DPP’s best by far. In fact, this looked like the only one that the DPP had a realistic shot at. What was interesting about this election was that the DPP’s vote exploded in Districts 1 and 4, the mostly Min-nan areas closest to New Taipei City. In 2012, the KMT incumbent crushed his DPP opponent by over 10%. In 2014, Cheng won D1 by 12%. The strange thing is that the DPP’s candidate in 2012 was none other than Cheng Wen-tsan. If I were Chen Ken-te or Yang Li-huan, I would be shocked and very, very concerned. I would certainly do everything possible to distance myself from the Wu family and President Ma. I would also be talking to as many of my constituents as possible to try to figure out what happened. As much as anywhere in the country, these two seats are ground zero for the wave that just swept over Taiwan. If that wave hasn’t receded by early 2016, these two could be in trouble.
District 6 is a bit like New Taipei 1 and 12. This is a district that I have always considered to be an absolutely safe blue seat, yet the DPP came startlingly close to winning it in 2014. District 6 actually has three distinct parts. Daxi is an older area with far less industry, and its population hasn’t grown as fast as the rest of Taoyuan. In past years, this has been the DPP’s strongest part of the district. Most of the electorate resides in Bade. Bade is somewhat like the fast growing Min-nan areas in Districts 1 and 4, although Bade has always favored the KMT more strongly than either of those two areas. Finally, there are also about 25000 votes from Zhongli. While this is the smallest of the three pieces, it is also the most extreme. These areas of Zhongli are mostly military communities, and they have, in the past, gone for the KMT by as much as 80-20. When I studied the redistricting process from the perspective of the 2004 election, District 6 was the safest of all the Taoyuan districts. In fact, the DPP put the Zhongli military votes with Bade precisely because they thought they had a better chance of winning the remaining (mostly Hakka) areas of Zhongli than winning in Bade. In 2014, Cheng shockingly won Bade by 2%. Wu only won District 6 because of his margin in the Zhongli military areas and the mostly Aboriginal Fuxing district. (I ignored Fuxing since Aborigines vote in separate legislative districts.) Because of the safety net provided by the Zhongli military votes, Sun Ta-chien is unlikely to lose in 2016. Still, he should be jolted by the realization that his district has suddenly become competitive.
I am not going to bother with Taipei City. Ko and Lien had such a strong personal influence on the race that I’m not sure it can tell us much about how voters will decide in 2016.
The DPP has to win 15 more seats. I have marked 14 seats with three or four exclamation marks. If the DPP can move the needle enough to put some of the districts with two question marks into play, they can certainly win a majority. If they can replicate the 2014 result, they will easily win a majority. In fact, they don’t have to do quite that well. The DPP won 50 of the 73 districts (assuming the KMT keeps 7 of the 8 Taipei seats). If you give the KMT all six of the aboriginal seats and split the party list seats 17-17, that produces a 67- 46 DPP majority. Again, I don’t expect the 2016 elections to replicate the 2014 results, but 2014 should be a clear message that the legislative majority is up for grabs.