KMT presidential nomination and filters

The KMT presidential nomination is starting to come into focus. At the KMT’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, legislator Lu Hsueh-chang 呂學樟 proposed the KMT activate a mechanism for drafting a candidate. His proposal was that they should hold a poll with Chu, Wang, Wu, and Hung, with the winner being the presidential candidate and the second being the vice-presidential candidate.

Chu responded that the KMT would respect its procedures, which for the moment means that he is committed to letting Hung have a crack at breaking 30% in the polls and winning the nomination. However, I think we can see how this is going to shake out. If Hung doesn’t pass the threshold, the party is going to demand that Chu and Wang are considered. The strongest one is going to be presented with the nomination, whether he wants it or not. Since the decision mechanism will almost certainly be some sort of poll, that basically eliminates Wu. It also means that Ma won’t be allowed to block Wang directly.

In the meantime, the KMT has to decide the seemingly technical but actually quite critical question of whether to filter out respondents who self-identify as green camp supporters. A week ago, Hung proposed that the KMT should use a filter question because she thought that eliminating green supporters would help her defeat Yaung Chih-liang in a two-way race. However, Yaung is now out of the race, and Hung’s opponent is the 30% threshold. Many people are wondering if she will be better off with green supporters in the polls. The thinking is that green supporters believe she is the weakest opponent for Tsai, so they will strategically express support for Hung in the polls.

Whaddayaknow, the China Times released a useful poll today. 34% of respondents supported Hung to become the KMT nominee. Look, that’s more than 30%! CT helpfully provided some demographic breakdowns, including by camp. 19% of self-identified green camp supporters expressed support for Hung as the KMT nominee. Wow! Since I can’t believe any more than 2-3% sincerely support her, that is a lot of strategic voters. One of every five or six green camp identifiers is strategically supporting Hung, and there is no organized campaign to tell them to do so. Who says voters are stupid sheep? Still, while 19% is higher than we might expect, it is a lot less than 30%. In this poll, Hung would be better off filtering out the green supporters. Another interesting result is that blue camp supporters apparently aren’t terrified at the prospect of a Hung candidacy. 65% supported her as the nominee, while only 14% did not want her.

Aside: The China Times poll asked whether respondents supported her as the KMT nominee. I think the KMT poll will ask whether a respondent would vote for Hung or Tsai, and Hung has to pass 30% in that hypothetical matchup. That’s a much different question, and Hung only got 17% support on that question in a recent TVBS poll. For one thing, the latter question will evoke far more sincere responses. Call me cynical, but I wonder if the China Times wanted to sell some newspapers and deliberately used a question on which Hung could get 30% support. Still, I don’t think it is out of the question that Hung will be able to pass the threshold, especially if the KMT uses a filter question.

In conclusion, if the KMT wants to give Hung a chance to win, they should use a filter. If they want to avoid her at the top of the ticket, they should include the entire population.

Wait, there’s one more thing to consider, and it is perhaps the most important of all. The decision of whether or not to use a filter will set a precedent. If Hung does not pass the threshold there might be another poll, between Chu and Wang. Wang is much more popular with green voters than Chu. The recent TVBS poll shows Wang with 13% support among DPP identifiers and Chu with only 7%. If a filter is used, Chu will probably win the poll. If no filter is used, Wang has a good chance.

The Ma faction, which supports anyone but Wang, should thus push hard for a filter. The filter would help Hung and Chu, both of whom are acceptable to Ma. The Wang faction should resist the filter, both to ensure that Hung doesn’t pass the threshold and to help Wang win any potential poll against Chu. What about the Chu faction? I haven’t got any clue, since I don’t know if Chu actually wants to be the nominee. If he wants to be the nominee, he should … just say so! Everyone will step aside. If he doesn’t want the nomination, he has a dilemma. The filter will help Hung in the current poll. However, if she doesn’t pass the threshold, the filter might condemn him to getting the nomination.

 

[Extra thought: I keep seeing parallels between the disastrous Chen and Ma second terms. Here’s another. In 2007, the DPP had a vicious fight over whether to use a filter question. Hsieh, who drew support from the deep greens, wanted it. Su, who was allied with the New Tide and tried to appeal more to independent voters, opposed it. They eventually did use a filter for legislative nominations, but Su dropped out before the presidential poll was held.]

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