The DPP has announced its vote rationing scheme in Taichung 10. It is asking voters to pair up and have one person vote for each of its nominees.
This is interesting to me. (Most things about elections are interesting to me.)
The DPP has two nominees running for three seats. One nominee, Huang Guoshu 黃國書, is an incumbent and quite popular. He won the party primary with an overwhelming majority and played a major role in publicizing the gangland shootings earlier this year. The other candidate is Jiang Zhengji 江正吉, who looks far less popular. Jiang served several terms in the city council in the 1980s and 1990s, but he lost the last two elections. Jiang used to be in the KMT but then became an independent in the late 1990s, ran as the TSU candidate last time, and joined the DPP for this election. So DPP voters might also have doubts about just how dedicated he is to the green cause. In short, you have one very strong nominee and one very weak nominee.
From a strategic standpoint, Jiang would love to split all the DPP votes evenly. Huang probably isn’t so sure about this. If there are enough votes to go around, it’s fine. However, every candidate’s first priority is his own victory. The welfare of the overall party is always second.
Are there enough votes to go around for both DPP candidates? Last time, the DPP plus TSU got 42.8% in this district. In this wider election environment, that should either hold steady or go up this time. The KMT has two candidates, plus there is at least one strong independent. (Wang Yunlin’s 王允伶 mother is longtime incumbent Jiang Nai-hui 莊乃慧.) So that means that three blue candidates will be splitting the rest of the pie. Moreover, one of the KMT candidates, Zhang Hongnian 張宏年, is expected to be particularly strong. Zhang is currently the speaker, and he wants to be speaker in the new city council. One step in this is sometimes running up a high vote total to give yourself an image of high popularity. So if the DPP splits its votes evenly, it looks like it might be hard for the blue camp to produce two candidates who get more votes unless either Wang or Hong Jiahong 洪嘉鴻, the other KMT nominee, get almost no votes.
However, it looks to me like Huang is still hedging his bets a little. This particular vote rationing scheme is a little soft. Rather than giving each voter a definitive set of instructions (eg: all men vote for Huang, all women vote for Jiang), this scheme gives voters a little leeway. You can vote in pairs, but what if you don’t have a convenient person to pair with? What if your family has three people? This scheme makes it just a little easier for voters to rationalize voting for the candidate they prefer rather than splitting their votes evenly among the party nominees.
Most political agreements reflect carefully negotiated bargains. Having a vote rationing scheme, any scheme, is better for Jiang than no scheme at all. However, this might have been the worst scheme for him. Still, it might be enough for him to win the third and last seat.