Tonight Mrs. Garlic and I drove to Tainan to see Tsai’s big rally. For the entire campaign, I’ve been hearing about how passionate crowds are for her. However, none of the rallies I’ve been to in northern Taiwan seemed particularly big or enthusiastic to me. They weren’t bad, but they were also nothing special. If anything, I would rate them slightly below average in terms of the average DPP rally. So I wanted to see if the south was different.
The south is different. The crowd here was much more active and responsive. In historical terms, it was still a far cry from the standards of 1994 or 2000, but it was far better than the north.
By the way, media reports and the people onstage claimed there were 100,000 people at the event tonight. The usual rule is to cut those claims in half, but I don’t think that would be sufficient for tonight. My wife estimated 33,000, but I think there might have been 25,000 max. (Remember, I’m a hard grader. 25,000 is a LOT of people. Also, this was a particularly hard crowd to estimate because of the shape of the space. It was a long narrow street, and I couldn’t see the whole thing from any single angle. Also, there were people in alleys and intersections. So if you feel my estimate is too low, it might be.)
The strangest thing happened again. At every DPP rally I’ve been to this year, people are excited to see Tsai take the stage. They are genuinely supportive and want to be part of the fun “frozen garlic” cheers. However, once she starts speaking, people start leaving. By the end of every speech, about a third of the audience has left. This happens regardless of whether there is heavy mobilization (like tonight) or zero mobilization. A large percentage of the crowd simply doesn’t want to bother to listen to her speech. Even weirder, tonight while she was speaking and people were filing out past me, they were excited and happy, not tired and bored. They like her, they passionately support her, but they just don’t want to listen to her speak.