Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

Huang Kuo-chang’s recall vote

November 18, 2017

The Central Election Commission has announced the date – December 16 – for the vote to recall New Power Party legislator Huang Kuo-chang 黃國昌, which gives me a convenient opportunity to rant about how stupid the new law is.

Recall that after the Sunflower movement, activists tried to recall several KMT legislators, including Chang Ching-chung 張慶忠, Wu Yu-sheng 吳育昇, Alex Tsai 蔡正元, and Lin Hung-chih 林鴻池. All of these efforts failed, and activists believed that the requirements for recall were unreasonably stringent. (The effort may have had some effect. None of the targeted legislators won re-election in 2016.)

When the NPP entered the legislature, one of its first goals was to revise the election law to make recall easier. Strangely, neither of the two big parties put up much resistance, and the revision was passed last December. I’ll steal this table from a UDN article summarizing the main changes:

  Previous law New law
Initiate a petition 2% of eligible voters 1% of eligible voters
Signatory period 30 days 60 days
Advertising Prohibited Allowed
Signatory threshold 13% of eligible voters 10% of eligible voters
Voting day concurrent with other election? Not allowed Allowed
Turnout threshold 50% of eligible voters Abolished
Yes votes Yes > No Yes votes must exceed 25% of eligible voters;

Yes > No

Let’s focus on those last two rows, since they are the most important. Previously, 50% turnout was required to pass a recall. This made it nearly impossible to pass a recall. The legislator could simply advise supporters to ignore the vote and stay at home. That meant that the opposition had to supply 50% of all eligible voters. In normal conditions and in normal districts, this was nearly impossible.

Huang’s district, New Taipei 12, had 251,191 eligible voters in 2016. (It’s probably a few thousand more now since Xizhi is a fast-growing area, but for the sake of simplicity I will ignore that.) This means that to recall Huang under the old law, opponents would have had to mobilize 125,596 votes. In winning the seat, Huang had only gotten 80,508 votes. That was in a general election concurrent with a presidential election, featuring campaign that dominated news in Taiwan for several months. The recall would have to mobilize 50% more votes without the benefit of a general election atmosphere. Not gonna happen.

As I’ve stated before, I think that is exactly how it should be. It should be nearly impossible to overturn an election result. One of the main ideas behind fixed terms is that we don’t need to continually re-litigate elections. We have a general election period, and then the winners get some time to focus on governing. The next election comes along in only a few years, so the wait is not oppressive. There is no need to overturn an election result except in the most exceptionally egregious cases. As a general principle, recalls should be doomed to fail unless most of the people who originally voted for the winner turn against him or her. In most such cases, the legislator will resign unilaterally, and there will be no need for a recall. However, if the legislator has really lost the confidence of his or her original supporters and refuses to step down, a recall may be necessary. In this case, that high threshold might be manageable.

The new law makes recall far too easy. Instead of 125,596 yes votes, recall supporters only need half that number, 62,798. How low is that number? In the 2016, Huang’s main opponent Lee Ching-hwa 李慶華 got 68,318 votes. That was nowhere near enough votes to win the seat, but if every one of those voters supports the recall, they can remove Huang from his seat. Take note, in this scenario, not a single person who originally supported Huang has changed his or her mind. It is now easier to recall Huang than it was to elect him in the first place.

Of course, the previous paragraph is ignoring the difficulties of mobilizing 62,798 yes votes without the atmosphere of a general election. This threshold is still probably unreachable. However, it is low enough that I have some doubts. 63,000 is difficult, but by no means impossible.

This puts Huang Kuo-chang in a difficult position. He now has to decide whether to try to mobilize his supporters to defend his seat. Even if they can pass the 62,798 threshold, he could still keep his seat if he can mobilize his original 80,508 supporters to come out to the polls and vote no. However, mobilization is expensive and difficult. The burden should be on the side trying to recall the legislator, not on the incumbent legislator. They are the ones trying to overturn a previous election result.

In a vacuum, I’d simply advise Huang to ignore the anti-gay marriage groups behind the recall effort. It’s highly unlikely that they have enough penetration in society to mobilize 10,000 votes, much less 63,000. However, there are other politicians making strategic choices. In particular, there are four city councilors who would love to have Huang’s seat. For the two KMT city councilors, this is a golden opportunity. Huang removed the old KMT incumbent, so now they have a wide open seat staring at them if the recall passes. You can bet that they are mobilizing their networks trying to recall Huang. The two DPP city councilors have to be more careful, since many of their supporters also voted for Huang. However, I suspect they wouldn’t be heartbroken if the seat were to come open. The point is, there are a lot of well-connected people who have an interest in Huang’s recall. The anti-gay marriage activists don’t have to supply all 63,000 votes; self-interested politicians will supply a substantial number of yes votes. It’s still a longshot, but it isn’t impossible.

Huang Kuo-chang won over 50% in 2016. Imagine how the calculations would be different for a candidate who had won a three-way race. For example, Tsai Shih-ying 蔡適應 won the Keelung seat with only 41.5% of the vote. He got 78,707 votes, but 111,162 people voted for one of the three blue camp candidates. The threshold in a recall election would only be 74,736, so a successful recall would be quite likely even if no voters who originally supported them had changed their minds. Recall elections are supposed to be tools to remove legislators who have betrayed their electoral contract, not second chances for when one side can’t agree on a single candidate. However, if Huang’s recall succeeds, this is where we are headed. Every legislator elected on the other party’s turf with less than 50% had better start looking over their shoulder.

If there is any ironic justice in this episode, it is that Huang and the NPP brought this recall on themselves. They insisted on drastically revising a law that was working well. At least they are the first ones to face the consequences of their lousy choice. And if the recall does pass, it won’t just be Huang personally who suffers. The outcome will be widely interpreted as an indicator that the general public is not ready for marriage equality, and the NPP will have succeeded in kneecapping one of its most cherished goals. Good going, guys.

Hopefully after the recall vote, the parties will decide to revise the election law again to make recalls harder and end this stupidity. In the meantime, Huang deserves to sweat a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Taipei LY races revisited

May 11, 2017

It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog, but I actually have been mulling over a topic for a few months now. I want to write about the KMT chair election. Nope, just kidding. I want to write about the past rather than speculate about the future. I want to revisit the 2016 legislative elections. More specifically, I want to take another look at the DPP’s choice to cooperate with non-DPP candidates, especially in Taipei City. Did that strategy work well? Did DPP voters obediently vote for their party’s electoral ally? Did the non-DPP candidates bring in other voters that the DPP wouldn’t normally win? Should the DPP (or KMT) try this again in the future? I won’t provide definitive answers to any of these questions, but maybe we can unearth some suggestive evidence.

 

Caution: This section is about methodology. It is extremely boring. I suppose you could skip it, but I will judge you and think you are a bad person who probably believes all the fake news on the internet. If you can’t stand to read boring stuff, you aren’t educated. Also, what are you doing reading my blog.

Normally the way to attack this topic would be to look at individual-level vote choices from survey data. If we wanted to look at national-level vote choices, that is exactly what I would do. I’d go to the TEDS survey data and put together a table of how people voted in the presidential and district elections. Imagine if there were only two presidential candidates and two legislative candidates:

  LY: DPP LY: KMT
Prez: DPP p 1-p
Prez: KMT 1-q q

Of the people who voted for the DPP presidential candidate, some percentage p also voted for the DPP legislative candidate, while the rest (1-p) defected to the KMT legislative candidate. Similarly, q of the KMT presidential voters were loyal while 1-q defected. We have two fairly large post-election surveys from TEDS for the 2016 election (one face-to-face, one telephone), so we could put together fairly good estimates for p and q.

However, I’m interested in Taipei 4, where the DPP supported PFP city councilor Huang Shan-shan. I’m also interested in Taipei 8, where the DPP supported independent (and former KMT and New Party) city councilor Lee Ching-yuan. For any given legislative district, we only have about 50 or 60 respondents from the two surveys combined. That isn’t enough to produce even a really bad estimate. National surveys simply aren’t much help; we would need a dedicated post-election survey for each legislative district. Unfortunately, I don’t have such data, and I am not aware that any such surveys were ever conducted. We will have to look elsewhere for evidence.

Instead of surveys, I look to the aggregate election results. The CEC has provided electoral returns from each precinct. In 2016, Taiwan had 15,582 precincts, so the average legislative district had 200 to 300 data points. The problem is that these are aggregated data, not individual-level data. These reports do not tell us how individual voters voted, which is what we really want to know.

This problem, which is known as ecological inference, has a long and not very distinguished history in political science. W.S. Robinson identified the basic problem in 1950. Aggregate data from the American states showed that states with higher levels of foreign born residents also had higher levels of literacy. In other words, the ecological inference should be that foreign-born residents had higher levels of literacy than native-born residents. However, it was well known that the opposite was actually true. The ecological inference was not just off by a little; the basic relationship was backward! From this, social scientists have learned to beware of what is called the ecological fallacy: inferring individual-level relationships from aggregate data can go horribly wrong.

Nonetheless, there are many instances in which all we have to work with is aggregate data. About twenty years ago, two of political science’s leading methodologists, Gary King (Harvard) and Chris Achen (then at Michigan, now at Princeton) published books about this problem. King’s book made the bigger splash. King put together a software program that would take the aggregate data, run thousands of simulations, and provide estimates for p and q. Unfortunately, there were a few limitations. King’s method worked well in a 2×2 case, but much less well with 2×3 or larger tables. His program might be able to manage 3×3, but as the number of rows or columns increased, the program often simply couldn’t converge to a solution. Second, his program didn’t handle covariates well. Imagine you wanted to control for the percentage of Hakka voters. His program could usually handle one covariate. However, if you wanted to control for the percentages of Hakkas, university graduates, farmers, and people who had moved into the district within the past five years, the program was likely to crash. I tried using King’s program a few times in grad school and gave up in frustration. (Another problem: Chinese language fonts make the interface go bananas, so it is hard for me to navigate.) That was probably fortunate for me. Not a whole lot of articles using his method were ever published, and I suspect many were rejected by reviewers who couldn’t be sure that they weren’t still running up against the ecological fallacy. At any rate, I thought I’d download the program and try some models for this blog post, but his software won’t run on my computer. Apparently, Gary King hasn’t bothered to update his software since 2003, which I take as a pretty good indication that he doesn’t consider it to have been a smashing success. But don’t feel too sorry for him, he’s got lots of other triumphs. Recently he has made headlines analyzing government funded posts on Chinese social media.

Unlike King, Chris Achen didn’t make any grandiose claims to have definitively solved the ecological inference problem. Achen’s book, co-authored with W. Phillips Shively (Minnesota), explored the old warhorse of ecological inference, the ecological regression, which is what I will use in this blog post. If you’ve taken any basic social science methodology course, you have probably studied ordinary least squares (OLS) regression. If you have a dependent variable Y and two independent variables X1 and X2, the normal equation is:

Y=b0 + b1X1 + b2X2 + e, where e is an error term (that we will henceforth ignore).

The normal model has a constant, b0. However, in an ecological regression, there is no constant. Effectively, the regression line is forced to go through the origin. This makes the equation:

Y = b1X1 + b2X2

In the above table, Y is the DPP’s district LY vote share, X1 is the DPP’s presidential vote share, and X2 is the KMT’s presidential vote share. B1 is an estimate of p, the percentage of DPP presidential voters who remained loyal and voted for the DPP legislative candidate. B2 is an estimate of (1-q), the percentage of KMT presidential voters who defected to the DPP in the legislative race.

Easy! Except it isn’t. Theoretically, b1 and b2 should never be less than zero or greater than one. Unfortunately, that happens quite frequently. You get results saying that 107% of DPP presidential voters voted for the DPP legislative candidate, and negative 11% of KMT presidential voters defected to the DPP legislative candidate. That doesn’t make any sense at all.

Achen and Shively suggest putting a squared term in the model to get a slightly less biased estimate. Unfortunately, this also makes it harder to interpret. Since the benefit is small and I’m looking for something quick and dirty, I’m going to just live with biased estimates.

Fortunately, Achen and Shively do tell us something about how the estimates are biased. First, loyalty rates are overestimated and defection rates are underrated. Second, if one election is more polarized than the other, estimates will commonly exceed the 0-1 range. Third, if there is a uniform swing, every ecological regression will have at least one estimate outside the 0-1 range (Achen and Shively 1995, 85). Let’s not worry too much about the second and third points, which simply suggest that it is nearly impossible to avoid having some estimates outside the 0-1 range. Unlike surveys, getting more data will not necessarily result in a better estimate. However, the first point is very important to keep in mind. The results I show you will probably overestimate the prevalence of straight-ticket voting for the KMT and DPP. When you see an estimate for straight-ticket voting, you should mentally insert “at most” in front of that number.

Achen and Shively have not solved the problem of the ecological fallacy. Strictly speaking, ecological regressions should be seen as evidence of aggregate-level trends rather than individual-level trends. As in most empirical inquiries, the best way to avoid falling victim to an unwarranted inference is a thorough knowledge of the facts and a robust theory explaining how the pieces fit together. It is usually a mistake to think the facts can speak for themselves, and this is more true than normal in the case of ecological inference.

 

[Digression: I first met Chris Achen about 20 years ago, when he spent a few months as a visitor at the Election Study Center. In fact, I have a vague memory of him teaching me how to do an ecological regression to estimate the incidence of split ticket voting in the 1997 Chiayi City mayoral election and the concurrent LY by-election. Chris is a wonderfully sunny and generous person; we quickly dubbed him 阿陳 (A-Chen). He has regularly returned to Taiwan over the past two decades, and he has trained several prominent Taiwanese political scientists. You might be most familiar with Hsu Yung-ming, who is now a New Power Party legislator. He is also one of the driving forces behind The Taiwan Voter, which will be the authoritative work on voting behavior in Taiwan for the next generation and the go-to source for anyone wishing to understand identity politics. (It will be published by University of Michigan Press later this year and is co-edited by Chris Achen and T.Y. Wang.) Chris is an awesome dude; everyone loves Chris.]

 

To recap the methodology section: I’m using ecological regressions to infer individual-level voting decisions from aggregate level data. This risks falling afoul of the ecological fallacy, and no reputable academic journal would publish such dodgy research. Nonetheless, the results are quite suggestive, and I believe they have some value. Moreover, we have fairly strong suspicions of how votes might have been distributed; we will want to see evidence that the results are more or less “reasonable.” Finally, remember that these results will overestimate straight-ticket voting and underestimate defections. When two people split their tickets in opposite directions, in the aggregate data it looks like they have both voted straight-ticket. There is a lot more churning under the surface. Proceed with caution. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have spent all this time working on this post if I didn’t think I wasn’t learning anything.

 

Substantive Results:

For each legislative district, I attempted to learn how the district candidates’ votes were produced by trying to figure out how the party list vote and the presidential vote translated into the district votes. For each important district candidate, I thus ran two regressions. The cases were precinct-level vote percentages. (Indigenous voters do not vote in normal legislative districts, so I only used precincts in which the number of eligible voters in the district election was at least 90% of the eligible voters in the presidential election.) For both regressions, the dependent variable was the vote share of the district candidate. In the first model, the independent variables were the vote shares of the party lists. However, the nine smallest parties kept producing crazy results, so I lumped them all together. Sorry. Next time win more votes. In the second model, the independent variables were the vote shares of the three presidential candidates. As you will see, the results of the two models generally tended to be consistent with each other, which should provide a small measure of confidence in the results.

 

Taipei 1

Taipei 1 is a good place to start since it was the only district in Taipei in which a KMT candidate faced a DPP candidate. The presidential and party list votes showed that this formerly blue district had turned light green:

Tsai 55.3 DPP 42.5
Chu 34.8 TSU 2.1
Soong 9.9 NPP 6.2
    KMT 27.2
    PFP 5.1
    New 6.5
    MKT 2.1
    F&H 2.2
    G/S 3.2
    Nine 3.0

There were five total candidates, but two got negligible votes and the third candidate got just a hair over 5%. It was fairly close to a straight KMT-DPP contest.

丁守中 Ting KMT 82649 43.77%  
吳思瑤 Wu DPP 95951 50.81% *
黃清原 Huang 台灣獨立黨 379 0.20%  
王靜亞 Wang MKT 9480 5.02%  
吳忠錚 Wu 健保免費連線 348 0.18%  

The overall totals are fairly similar across the three elections. However, this will not necessarily imply massive straight-ticket voting. If there are variations from precinct to precinct, the ecological regressions might show significant split-ticket voting. This could result if a candidate has a geographical stronghold, has done large and effective amounts of constituency service, or has some other cross-party appeal.

So what do the ecological regressions tell us? I ran regressions for the top three candidates:

  DPP KMT MKT
DPP .985 .008 .008
TSU 1.050 .061 -.139
NPP .712 .102 .173
KMT -.085 1.071 .016
PFP .031 .713 .240
New .138 .928 -.063
MKT .015 -.107 1.074
F&H .023 .961 -.010
G/S .827 .147 -.003
Nine .327 .531 .116
.      
Tsai .949 .033 .016
Chu -.041 1.050 -.009
Soong -.026 .550 .446

These results show a fairly straightforward party to party fight. Of the voters who voted for the DPP list, 98.5% also voted for Wu Si-yao. Likewise, these results show that 107.1% of the people who voted for the KMT list voted for Ting Shou-chung. Technically speaking that isn’t possible, so we should probably state the results much more imprecisely: Almost all of the DPP and KMT list voters also voted for that party’s district candidate. Supporters of the two smaller parties in the green camp, the TSU and NPP, mostly followed suit, though the number is a bit lower for the NPP. On the blue side, New Party list voters mostly supported Ting. However, the fourth blue camp party, the MKT, had its own district candidate. The regression results show that MKT list voters overwhelmingly voted for the MKT district candidate. The PFP and MKT allied on the presidential ticket. However, in the district race, PFP voters mostly supported the KMT district candidate rather than the MKT candidate. Of the two non-aligned parties, the Green/SDP Alliance voters mostly opted for Wu, while the Faith & Hope League overwhelmingly supported Ting.

I was particularly heartened to see that latter result. F&H is led by conservative Christians whose main demand is to stop marriage equality. Ting Shou-chung has been one of the strongest voices against marriage equality. It makes perfect sense to see overwhelming F&H support for Ting, though the regression models, which know nothing of the fight over marriage equality, would not have been predisposed to produce this result. Ecological regressions CAN impart knowledge!

Looking at the district race from the presidential perspective, the story is roughly the same. Almost all Tsai voters supported Wu; almost all Chu voters opted for Ting; and Soong voters split roughly half and half between Ting and the MKT candidate.

Remember, these coefficients overestimate party loyalty, so there was probably a bit more split-ticket voting than these results suggest. Still, Taipei 1 was pretty darn straightforward. I couldn’t have asked for a better example to set the stage for the other seven Taipei districts.

 

Taipei 2

Taipei 2 is the DPP’s strongest district in Taipei, and it is the only one that the DPP won in 2012. This year, the KMT basically gave up on this district and did not nominate its own candidate. Instead, it nominated a New Party city councilor. Nominating a candidate from a more extreme party seems a somewhat dubious strategy to appeal to the median voter in a green-leaning district. For this post, an obvious question is whether KMT supporters and other more moderate blue camp supporters all lined up behind the New Party candidate.

Here are the presidential and party list results:

Tsai 61.6 DPP 48.6
Chu 28.7 TSU 2.6
Soong 9.7 NPP 6.3
    KMT 23.4
    PFP 5.5
    New 4.9
    MKT 1.4
    F&H 1.8
    G/S 2.7
    Nine 2.8

The district race had seven candidates, but the top two candidates took over 95% of the total votes:

王銘宗 Wang IND 1342 0.74%  
陳民乾 Chen 台灣獨立黨 865 0.47%  
吳俊德 Wu F&H 3550 1.96%  
林幸蓉 Lin 健保免費連線 1561 0.86%  
潘懷宗 Pan New 65967 36.42%  
姚文智 Yao DPP 107366 59.29% *
陳建斌 Chen 自由台灣黨 433 0.23%  

The ecological regressions:

  DPP New Faith
DPP 1.012 -.014 -.004
TSU 1.284 -.532 .067
NPP .681 .209 .045
KMT -.056 1.058 -.010
PFP .228 .512 .037
New -.062 1.033 .029
MKT .236 .328 .237
F&H .030 .510 .622
G/S .457 .574 .083
Nine .446 .551 -.044
.      
Tsai .979 .000 -.002
Chu -.094 1.055 .050
Soong .178 .629 .068

The regression coefficients for party lists are a little far out of the bounds, especially for some for some of the smaller parties. -53.2% of TSU voters supposedly voted for Pan Huai-tzong, and the coefficients for the three equations don’t add up to anything near one for the NPP, PFP, or MKT. Maybe we shouldn’t take these results too seriously. Instead, let’s look at the regression coefficients for the presidential race. With only a 3×3 table, these bottom coefficients place fewer demands on the data. The bottom set of coefficients show another fairly straightforward green-blue contest, in which both sides mostly stayed loyal. The major exception is with Soong voters, of whom 17.8% voted for Yao Wen-chih. So KMT supporters did not seem to defect, but a fair proportion of Soong voters did. I would be cautious about attributing this to an extremist New Party candidate, though. As we go through different districts in the country, you will see that coefficients for Soong voters vary significantly from district to district, and 17.8% is a bit high but not terribly extreme.

 

Taipei 3

Now we are getting to the messier and more interesting districts. In Taipei 3, Wayne Chiang Wan-an defeated the KMT incumbent Lo Shu-lei in the primary, thus avenging his father’s own defeat at Lo’s hands in the primary four years prior. The DPP made a mess of this district. It originally nominated city councilor Liang Wen-chieh, but the self-appointed moral authority Lin Yi-hsiung protested and Liang was forced to withdraw. For months, it was not clear who the main green camp candidate would be. The DPP finally agreed to throw its support behind Billy Pan, a physician running as an independent who styled himself as a second Ko Wen-je. (Ko, however, did not seem so interested in supporting Pan.) This was a contentious decision in the DPP. Pan was strongly supported by the Hsieh faction, but he had less support from the rest of the party. Many green camp voters were also attracted to Social Democrat Lee Yan-jung. However, she ran a lackluster campaign. Until the last few weeks, she seemed more interested in her ideals than in actually winning votes, leading her to do things such as print fewer leaflets (such nasty and unenvironmental waste!).

The district, which had previously been solidly (though not overwhelmingly) blue turned a light shade of green. Here are the presidential and party list results:

Tsai 52.1 DPP 39.7
Chu 37.5 TSU 2.1
Soong 10.4 NPP 6.0
    KMT 28.3
    PFP 5.7
    New 8.4
    MKT 1.2
    F&H 2.2
    G/S 3.5
    Nine 2.9

The district race had ten candidates, but only three mattered:

高士恩 Kao 大愛憲改聯盟 541 0.28%  
潘建志 Pan IND 73797 38.41%  
林新凱 Lin 台灣獨立黨 794 0.41%  
趙燕傑 Chao IND 352 0.18%  
邱正浩 Chiu 和平鴿聯盟黨 450 0.23%  
陳科引 Chen IND 1448 0.75%  
李晏榕 Lee G/S 23706 12.34%  
李成嶽 Lee 軍公教聯盟黨 721 0.37%  
黃麗香 Huang IND 607 0.31%  
蔣萬安 Chiang KMT 89673 46.68% *

Chiang Wan-an won the district, putting the KMT’s first family back into the political fray. However, he did not get a majority; the combined totals of Pan and Lee would have defeated Chiang. Was Chiang’s victory due to the green camp’s failure to concentrate its support on one candidate?

  IND KMT G/S
DPP .867 .000 .125
TSU 1.041 -.080 .002
NPP .466 .155 .360
KMT .097 .878 .010
PFP -.362 .915 .236
New -.061 1.214 -.089
MKT -.376 .570 .587
F&H -.004 .612 .386
G/S -.024 .264 .792
Nine -.212 .932 .019
.      
Tsai .783 .020 .181
Chu -.049 1.023 .044
Soong -.052 .702 .123

The ecological regressions suggest that green camp supporters were not enthralled with Pan. Only 87% of DPP list voters supported Pan. 87% may sounds high, but in normal districts this figure was generally close to 100%. 87% is actually a disaster. Pan’s support was even lower among NPP voters, who gave almost as much support to Lee as to Pan. This ambivalent green camp support for the designated DPP ally is also evident in the presidential candidate regressions, where only 78% of Tsai voters supported Pan. In short, Pan failed to consolidate the green camp vote.

But wait, there’s more. Pan was an independent. When Ko Wen-je ran for mayor, we heard endless arguments that blue camp voters might be able to defect to Ko because he was not a DPP member. Did Pan eat into the blue camp vote? Or was Chiang able to consolidate all the blue votes?

The evidence here is mixed. The top set of regressions have some numbers that suggest there may have been significant numbers of voters who crossed the normal boundaries. Chiang only has 88% of KMT list voters, while nearly 10% of them voted for Pan. However, the bottom set of ecological regressions seems to indicate that Pan got almost no support from Chu or Soong voters. My guess is that the bottom numbers are probably closer to the actual result.

Both sets of regressions indicate that the blue camp lost some votes to the Social Democratic candidate. In the party list regressions, Lee took 24% of the PFP votes and 59% of the MKT votes. In the presidential regressions, she won 12% of Soong’s votes.

Overall, it looks to me as though Lee took votes from both camps, but she took significantly more from the green side. In the alternate world in which the DPP nominated Liang Wen-chieh and he consolidated almost all of the green camp support, it would have been a much closer race. The Chiang family had better remember to send a Christmas card to Lin Yi-hsiung.

 

Taipei 4

Taipei 4 might be the most interesting race of all; the rest of this post was mostly a by-product of a crazy idea that maybe I could figure out what happened in Taipei 4. In past years, this district had been nearly hopeless for the DPP. Several DPP city councilors were eager to run, but the party leaders refused to nominate any of them. Instead, Tsai Ing-wen doggedly insisted on cooperating with PFP city councilor Huang Shan-shan. I will not delve into the various strategic angles of this decision at this time. For this post, we simply note that it was a bit controversial for the DPP to collaborate with a PFP stalwart, even as the PFP chair ran against Tsai in the presidential race. Many traditional DPP supporters were unhappy at being instructed to vote for Huang Shan-shan. Without a major “true green” candidate in the race, minor party candidates volunteered to fill the void. TSU, NPP, and Social Democrat candidates all picked up significant numbers of votes. The top two candidates finished within 2% of each other, so a minor shift from any of the three minor candidates to Huang would have delivered the seat to her. Of course, as a PFP candidate, Huang presumably tapped into pools of support that normal green candidates could never hope to win.

At the national level, in 2016 the district shifted from a deep blue district to a tossup district.

Tsai 51.3 DPP 38.0
Chu 37.3 TSU 1.8
Soong 11.5 NPP 6.8
    KMT 28.9
    PFP 6.2
    New 7.8
    MKT 1.5
    F&H 2.4
    G/S 3.3
    Nine 3.3

The district race was extremely fragmented, with five relevant candidates:

何偉 Ho IND 2497 1.16%  
陳尚志 Chen G/S 10278 4.78%  
黃珊珊 Huang PFP 85600 39.86%  
李岳峰 Lee 和平鴿聯盟黨 251 0.11%  
陳兆銘 Chen 台灣獨立黨 568 0.26%  
李彥秀 Lee KMT 89612 41.73% *
蕭亞譚 Hsiao TSU 13648 6.35%  
林少馳 Lin NPP 12246 5.70%  

Here are the ecological regressions:

  PFP KMT TSU NPP G/S
DPP .627 .121 .128 .077 .033
TSU -.080 .760 .270 -.074 .123
NPP .399 .081 .082 .228 .142
KMT -.124 1.106 -.021 .005 .043
PFP .721 .377 -.041 .009 -.056
New .736 .288 .010 -.008 -.048
MKT .048 .047 .187 .353 .134
F&H .750 .035 .202 -.131 .099
G/S 1.152 -.929 .134 .219 .397
Nine .339 .538 -.001 .082 .001
.          
Tsai .501 .200 .131 .091 .061
Chu .202 .739 .004 .007 .050
Soong .573 .359 -.048 .065 -.019

There is exactly one coefficient in this table that looks normal. 111% of KMT voters supported Lee Yen-hsiu. Ok, that isn’t quite logical, but the idea the almost all of the KMT party list voters also voted for the KMT district candidate is the most normal thing about this table. Lee didn’t get a lot of the other blue camp votes, though. Nearly three-fourths of PFP and New Party voters opted for Huang. On the other hand, Lee did get 12% of DPP list voters. In addition to that 12%, a further quarter of DPP list voters plumped for one of the three minor party candidates, leaving a mere 63% for Huang. A very, very large number of DPP voters were unwilling to support a PFP nominee, regardless of Tsai Ing-wen’s entreaties.

It’s important to note that there are a lot of really strange results on this table that are probably simply wrong. If we take the numbers literally, most TSU list voters supported the KMT candidate (even though there was a TSU candidate in the race); the models can’t figure out what happened with nearly half of the MKT voters; and negative 92% the Green/Social Democrat voters supported Lee Yen-hsiu. We are probably demanding too much of the data.

Nonetheless, the regressions from the presidential election largely echo those from the party list election. Tsai’s voters were fragmented in the legislative race, with half voting for Huang and the other half splitting their votes among the other four candidates. Three fourths of Chu’s voters supported Lee, but 20% opted for Huang. Among Soong voters, more supported Huang than Lee.

What can we conclude? The DPP strategy partly succeeded and partly failed. Their ally took quite a few blue votes. If Huang had been able to add all the green votes to her blue votes, she would have won. However, the green camp clearly did not unite behind Huang. Hordes of green voters could not stomach supporting a candidate from the other side of the political spectrum. Judged narrowly by the district election outcome, the DPP’s alliance strategy was a failure. Not only did it not win, it also angered and frustrated a large number of sympathizers.

 

Taipei 5

Taipei 5 was one of those districts that the DPP erroneously deemed as “difficult.” It had lost by a lot in 2008, and by a fair amount in 2012. Nonetheless, this was a district that the DPP could hope to compete in with a mildly favorable partisan swing. In the tidal wave of 2016, this district turned a clear green.

Tsai 53.4 DPP 41.3
Chu 36.3 TSU 2.2
Soong 10.4 NPP 5.9
    KMT 28.3
    PFP 5.7
    New 7.1
    MKT 1.4
    F&H 1.9
    G/S 2.8
    Nine 3.3

The district race was essentially a two man race, featuring two of the most different people imaginable. On the on hand, the KMT featured a long-term incumbent, Lin Yu-fang. Lin was straight-laced, professional, conservative, and a committed Chinese nationalist. Facing him was Freddy, the death-metal rocker. In a result that almost certainly still bewilders Lin Yu-fang, Freddy won:

林郁方 Lin KMT 76079 45.58%  
李家幸 Lee 台灣獨立黨 885 0.53%  
黃福卿 Huang IND 587 0.35%  
洪顯政 Hung 大愛憲改聯盟 478 0.28%  
龔偉綸 Kung IND 1710 1.02%  
林昶佐 Lim NPP 82650 49.52% *
尤瑞敏 You 樹黨 4506 2.69%  

How did Freddy win? Did the NPP open up some new constituency, or was it simply a DPP campaign clad in yellow? The ecological regressions:

  NPP KMT Tree
DPP .971 -.014 .018
TSU .845 .242 -.130
NPP .953 .048 .057
KMT -.038 1.021 .023
PFP .116 .765 .042
New -.043 1.037 .008
MKT -.261 .935 .163
F&H .308 .682 -.037
G/S .749 .046 .146
Nine .064 .611 .123
.      
Tsai .936 .019 .020
Chu -.056 1.030 .021
Soong .152 .699 .085

For the most part, this looks like a classic blue-green contest. Lin Yu-fang got almost all of the KMT, New Party, and MKT votes, while Freddy soaked up almost all of the DPP, TSU, and NPP votes. The only number that might be a bit surprising is the 11% of PFP voters who opted for Freddy. In doing this exercise, I’ve noticed again and again that there seems to be a minority of both NPP and PFP voters who will support the other one. During the campaign, I also remember social movement activists who seemed to differentiate between the PFP and the other blue parties. I suspect that there was a pool of voters that liked both the PFP and NPP (and perhaps also the Social Democrats). If so, it would make sense that this pool was prone to split its support among those parties.

 

Taipei 6

This is the forgotten race of Taipei. Taipei 6 has always been a deep-blue stronghold, and the DPP was fully justified in looking for an ally here. They opted to support Fan Yun, the well-known sociologist and activist. Unfortunately, she turned out to be an uninspired candidate. It turns out that elections and social movements are completely different animals.

Tsai 47.0 DPP 34.2
Chu 42.9 TSU 2.0
Soong 10.1 NPP 5.5
    KMT 30.3
    PFP 5.2
    New 11.1
    MKT 1.6
    F&H 2.9
    G/S 3.9
    Nine 3.2

This is the most highly educated district in Taiwan, and, perhaps not coincidentally, it always draws large numbers of useless candidates. This time there were twelve candidates, but only two got more than 4%. That isn’t to say this was a classic one-on-one race; the two top candidates combined for only 81% of the votes.

陳家宏 Chen 樹黨 1986 1.23%  
范雲 Fan G/S 56766 35.35%  
龎維良 Pang IND 2963 1.84%  
趙衍慶 Chao IND 3212 2.00%  
林珍妤 Lin 台灣獨立黨 1328 0.82%  
周芳如 Chou IND 4120 2.56%  
蔣慰慈 Chiang IND 271 0.16%  
鄭村棋 Cheng 人民民主陣線 4927 3.06%  
曾獻瑩 Tseng Faith 4826 3.00%  
蔣乃辛 Chiang KMT 74015 46.09% *
古文發 Ku 大愛憲改聯盟 184 0.11%  
吳旭智 Wu MKT 5962 3.71%  

Chiang Nai-hsin, the KMT incumbent, was held under 50%, but he won by a comfortable margin since Fan Yun only managed 35%. Did she fail to consolidate all the potential green camp voters? Was her poor showing the result of the same process as in Taipei 4, where DPP voters refused to obediently follow their party leaders’ instructions? Here are the ecological regressions for the top five candidates:

  G/S KMT MKT Faith Cheng
DPP .857 -.038 .008 .018 .046
TSU .733 .180 .012 .105 -.050
NPP .542 .337 -.175 -.046 .061
KMT -.066 .998 .066 -.019 -.006
PFP -.017 .744 .026 .007 .153
New .136 .828 .006 .012 .086
MKT -1.172 .662 1.312 -.014 -.002
F&H .367 -.074 -.028 .842 -.002
G/S .963 -.034 -.045 .005 -.052
Nine -.287 .361 .124 .122 -.027
.          
Tsai .788 .017 .004 .032 .034
Chu .018 .871 .036 .036 .027
Soong -.238 .782 .195 -.006 .029

These results indicate that both of the two main candidates had some difficulties consolidating potential votes, though it was nowhere near the scale of Taipei 4. Chiang was somewhat more successful, winning almost all of the KMT votes and 87% of Chu’s voters. Most DPP voters went along with Fan, but not all. 86% voted for her, and 79% of Tsai’s supporters also did so. Perhaps the most interesting numbers are from the NPP supporters. Since the NPP and Social Democrats were both born out of the Sunflower Movement, I expected that NPP voters would enthusiastically support Fan Yun. The regression coefficients say otherwise, indicating that she only won 54% of NPP list voters.

 

Taipei 7

Taipei 7 nearly turned out to be one of the biggest shocks of election night. This had always been a deep, deep blue district. I questioned the DPP’s decision not to nominate its own candidate in many districts, but not this one. Defeating incumbent Alex Fai with an ordinary DPP candidate seemed rather hopeless to me, and the DPP needed to try something new. It turned to Yang Shih-chiu, an erstwhile KMT city councilor. Yang had dropped out of the KMT to run as an independent, but he had longstanding blue credentials. The DPP’s hope was that Yang could keep some of his blue voters and that they could deliver all of their green voters. This was a reasonable strategy, though I had very little reason to believe it would succeed.

Shockingly, this deep blue district experienced such a big partisan swing that that the district seat came into play.

Tsai 49.6 DPP 37.2
Chu 39.6 TSU 1.9
Soong 10.8 NPP 6.0
    KMT 29.9
    PFP 5.6
    New 8.9
    MKT 1.5
    F&H 2.2
    G/S 3.4
    Nine 3.4

The district race turned out to be very close. This was even more surprising since there was a G/S candidate available to soak up any protest votes from green camp supporters who couldn’t stomach voting for Yang:

林文傑 Lin IND 1063 0.64%  
呂欣潔 Lu G/S 17747 10.73%  
詹益正 Chan IND 625 0.37%  
蘇承英 Su 和平鴿聯盟黨 689 0.41%  
范揚律 Fan 大愛憲改聯盟 231 0.13%  
林芷芬 Lin 台灣獨立黨 588 0.35%  
費鴻泰 Fai KMT 74455 45.04% *
楊實秋 Yang IND 69882 42.28%  

Here are the ecological regressions for the top three:

  IND KMT G/S
DPP .832 -.015 .161
TSU 1.162 -.004 -.152
NPP .971 -.230 .368
KMT -.072 1.062 -.019
PFP .160 .544 .201
New .258 .845 -.046
MKT .306 .636 -.027
F&H .612 .496 -.044
G/S .138 .100 .686
Nine -.008 .678 .145
.      
Tsai .789 .009 .182
Chu .024 .985 -.007
Soong .200 .518 .186

The picture these numbers paint is fairly clear. Fai consolidated almost all of the KMT votes, but Yang ate away at rest of the blue camp vote pool. If DPP voters had unified behind Yang, he would have won. However, they were unable to do this, and about 16% of DPP voters protested by voting for the G/S candidate. Probably the very same qualities that enabled Yang to win a number of blue votes were also the qualities that prevented him from getting all the green votes.

A quick note: Alex Fai has been a prominent opponent of marriage equality, so you might expect him to win all the Faith & Hope votes. However, Yang Shih-chiu is a Christian, something I know because most of his campaign ads featured a cross somewhere in the logo. It is thus reasonable to see that they split the F&H vote.

 

Taipei 8

Taipei 8 was almost exactly the same story as Taipei 7. This was a hopeless district for the DPP, so they cooperated with a KMT city councilor who had left the party to run for legislator. In this case, they cooperated with independent Lee Ching-yuan, who had previously been a member of the KMT, PFP, and New Party. As in Taipei 7, there was also a G/S candidate ready to soak up protest votes.

The big difference between Taipei 7 and Taipei 8 is that the latter is even deeper blue. There would be no election night suspense in this district. Even with the 2016 DPP tidal wave, this remained a solidly blue district.

Tsai 44.2 DPP 31.5
Chu 44.3 TSU 1.7
Soong 11.4 NPP 6.0
    KMT 32.1
    PFP 5.9
    New 10.4
    MKT 1.4
    F&H 3.2
    G/S 4.0
    Nine 3.8

The KMT incumbent easily won the district race:

李慶元 Lee IND 60459 35.79%  
賴樹聲 Lai IND 1071 0.63%  
苗博雅 Miao G/S 21084 12.48%  
賴士葆 Lai KMT 83931 49.69% *
陳如聖 Chen 台灣工黨 808 0.47%  
方景鈞 Fang IND 1540 0.91%  

The ecological regressions:

  IND KMT G/S
DPP .956 -.054 .077
TSU .029 .302 .615
NPP -.036 .420 .540
KMT .124 .921 -.045
PFP .584 .370 .021
New -.372 1.220 .120
MKT -.037 .650 .362
F&H .015 .867 .113
G/S .586 -.437 .884
Nine -.004 .530 .366
.      
Tsai .828 -.022 .171
Chu -.088 1.020 .066
Soong .274 .477 .169

There are some differences from Taipei 7, but I think the overall story is roughly the same. In these models, the top set of regressions don’t seem quite right to me. I’m a little skeptical that almost zero TSU or NPP supporters voted for Lee Ching-yuan, but 30-40% of them voted for the KMT candidate. I think it may be wiser to look to the bottom set of results. Nearly all the Chu voters stayed loyal to the KMT, but roughly a quarter of Soong voters shifted to Lee. However, Lee could not win all the Tsai voters, as 17% of them defected to the G/S candidate.

 

Conclusions

We observed several patterns. (1) When the KMT or DPP nominated its own candidate, that candidate was generally able to consolidate the entire KMT or DPP vote as well as most of the allied small party vote. (2) When the KMT or DPP supported a candidate from an allied party (New Party in Taipei 2, NPP in Taipei 5), there wasn’t much difference from the cases in which they nominated their own candidates. (3) When the DPP supported an independent who had formerly been part of the blue camp, that candidate was able to win some blue votes. However, roughly a fifth of DPP voters refused to go along with the strategy, thus negating those gains. (4) When the DPP supported Huang Shan-shan, who was still a member of a party actively competing with and usually opposed to the DPP, there was a widespread rebellion within the party. Only about half of Tsai’s voters voted for Huang. The losses from unhappy green voters probably outweighed the gains from luring over blue voters.

Please remember that ecological regressions are a very shaky method. These results are not definitive in any way, and there is a possibility that they are entirely wrong. I don’t think they are generally misleading, but I might be wrong.

 

Effort to recall Ker

November 30, 2016

Hey, there’s a bit of election news in Taiwan. As part of the current battle over marriage equality, there are efforts to recall DPP floor leader Ker Chien-ming 柯建銘.

[As an aside, I haven’t paid particularly close attention to Taiwanese politics over the past ten months. Rather, I have watched developments in Europe and America, often rapt in horror. We seem to be on the cusp of a fundamental shakeup in the international order, and, in my darkest nightmares, I worry that a democratic implosion is right around the corner. I’m not sure if it is reassuring or terrifying that Taiwan is preoccupied with “normal” political controversies, such as how to schedule vacation days, blissfully unconcerned that the rest of the world looks like it might be about to go up in flames. Is this oasis of calm one of the few sane spots in the world right now, or is it sticking its fingers in its ears and willfully ignoring the looming storm?]

The Taiwan Law Blog speculates that I do not support the efforts to recall Ker Chien-ming. That is correct, even though I support marriage equality. I explained my general dislike of recalls in the post the Taiwan Law Blog links to, and I stand by that reasoning. When the votes are counted, the election should stop. The battle over who occupies the seat should be settled until the next regularly scheduled election.

Recalls have a role, but they should only be used as a last-ditch resort when an elected official has fundamentally violated the implicit contract with the voters. I do not believe Ker Chien-ming has fundamentally violated his contract with his voters. When he ran, I do not remember him ever taking a public stance on marriage equality. His campaign was about representing the DPP and supporting Tsai Ing-wen’s agenda in the legislature. Marriage equality was merely one, very small part of that agenda. No matter what he does on this issue, it is hard to imagine it constituting a fundamental betrayal of his positions.

What do I think would be justifiable grounds to launch a recall? To give one example, I think South Korean President Park has fundamentally violated her contract with the voters. Massive corruption, allowing an unelected and unappointed spiritual advisor to make major decisions, and all the rest of it were clearly not what the Korean voters had in mind when they voted for her.

To go back to Ker’s case, since Ker’s central appeal was being a good party soldier, if he suddenly emerged as an intransigent opponent of Tsai’s agenda and plotted with the KMT to thwart her proposals, a recall would be justifiable. If we confine the hypothetical to the issue of marriage equality, if Ker had made support for marriage equality a central issue in his campaign but then had decided to throw his support behind a separate law that did not grant full equality, I think that would probably still be defensible and not justify a recall. After all, it is eminently defensible to compromise for 50% or 75% of your original goal. If he did all that, and then we further learned that he had accepted a massive bribe from an opponent of marriage equality to change his position, then a recall would probably be justified. In that case, Ker would have ignored his voters’ demands in favor of the briber’s demands. Ker’s current behavior is nowhere near these thresholds, and I hope the recall effort fizzles out.

The Taiwan Law Blog suggests that, instead of trying to recall Ker, perhaps marriage equality activists should campaign for him to lose his spot as the DPP party whip. I think he and many others are making the same mistake that President Ma made when he tried to purge Speaker Wang in 2013. They are imagining that the party floor leader is pursuing his own agenda.

In fact, what successful floor leaders do is to help the party rank-and-file get what they want. Sometimes, this means that the floor leader has to take some public heat in order to shield the backbenchers from criticism. In the American case, the classic example is from budgetary politics. A house member knows that a particular spending item should be cut but it is also very popular back home. The backbencher needs the speaker to arrange the agenda so that he can tell his voters that he fought hard to keep the item in the budget but he just couldn’t overcome opposition from everyone else. Sometimes, the legislator will even single out the speaker for criticism, and a good speaker understands what is happening and facilitates it. In 2013, President Ma blamed Speaker Wang for not pushing the Services Trade Agreement strongly enough. Ma should have realized that Wang was protecting KMT legislators who did not want to defend support for particular clauses to their voters.

In today’s case, Ker is probably protecting DPP legislators as well. Most DPP legislators have publicly come out in support of marriage equality, probably because they cannot afford to alienate progressive activists and voters. They certainly do not want to alienate young people. (Ask Hillary Clinton if alienating young voters has any costs.) However, Taiwanese society has hardly reached a consensus in support of marriage equality. The surveys I have seen suggest that support and opposition are about evenly split. I am a bit skeptical of these support levels. While elites and young people have mostly come to a consensus on gay marriage, I suspect the rest of society has not. To put it simply, I doubt that Taiwan has wrestled with this issue enough yet. To too many people, homosexuality is simply an idea rather than an everyday reality of many friends and family. There are still a lot of moms and dads my age or older who grew up with the unchallenged assumption that homosexuality was weird and/or wrong, and you can’t simply tell them that they have been prejudiced all their lives. They will need some time and a lot of discussion before they come around. Moving too quickly could cause a backlash, and I suspect that many DPP legislators intuitively grasp that not everyone in society is comfortable with rewriting the social rules just yet. If there were actually overwhelming support for marriage equality in the DPP caucus, Ker would make it happen quickly. He hasn’t been re-elected party whip time and time again because he ignores the rank-and-file’s wishes. If he is stalling or pushing some compromise package, it is almost certainly because they are asking him to do it. Moreover, like any good floor leader, he is taking the public criticism so that they won’t have to.

So what do I suggest for marriage equality activists? Ker Chien-ming is not your problem. Your problem is that you haven’t yet thoroughly sold Taiwanese society on the idea of marriage equality. To put it another way, the DPP caucus looks like it would like to change the law, but activists haven’t done enough work changing minds among ordinary voters to make DPP legislators feel comfortable taking this step. Rather than bullying or threatening Ker Chien-ming, activists should be focusing on broader society, explaining why marriage equality is a good idea that everyone can support. The good news is that the marriage equality side has good arguments and, with a lot of discussion and persuasion, should be able to produce a stronger consensus in society. When that happens, resistance in the legislature will melt away.

2016 election data

January 23, 2016

I know all of you have been waiting breathlessly for a neatly organized spreadsheet of the presidential and legislative elections broken down by legislative districts, so here it is! Start analyzing, and let me know if you find anything interesting.

2016 LY prez by LY district

How did the DPP win in Taitung and Hualien?

January 21, 2016

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of election night was that the DPP won the legislative district seats in both Taitung and Hualien. Moreover, this happened even though those two (and the two Fujian counties) were the only places in which the KMT beat the DPP in the presidential race. Perhaps some people thought that Taitung wasn’t a surprise since the DPP already held that seat, but let’s remember that they won that seat in 2012 with only 41.6% of the vote, taking advantage of a split in the KMT. This time, both Liu Chao-hao 劉櫂豪 in Taitung and Bi-khim Hsiao 蕭美琴 in Hualien won convincing majorities (64.2% and 53.4%, respectively). How did they do this?

There is an obvious possibility. In both Taitung and Hualien, indigenous voters account for about a third of the electorate. While the DPP has made some inroads with this group, indigenous voters still overwhelmingly support the KMT. Since indigenous voters cast their legislative votes in indigenous districts rather than in the regular geographical district, it stands to reason that the electorates in the Taitung and Hualien legislative districts should be quite a bit greener than the electorates in those counties in the presidential race. Is that difference sufficient to explain Liu and Hsiao’s victories?

Let’s examine the party list votes. As in previous posts, I combine the votes of all the green parties, the blue parties, and the others.

  total green blue Others
Taitung 95309 34869 54453 5987
% 100.0 36.6 57.1 6.3
Hualien 152350 51887 89886 10577
% 100.0 34.1 59.0 6.9

Party lists are like the presidential votes; they include indigenous voters. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tsai got 38.4% and 36.9% in the two counties, running about 2-3% ahead of the green party list vote just as she did in the rest of the country.

Now let’s look at the vote in the indigenous districts:

  total DPP KMT Others
Taitung 30248 4191 19197 6860
% 100.0 13.9 63.5 22.7
Hualien 35745 4794 24642 6309
% 100.0 13.4 68.9 17.7

In both counties, the DPP got about 14% of the indigenous district vote, while the KMT candidates got about 65%. However, that leaves another 20% voting for other candidates. On the party list, only about 7% voted for non-blue and non-green parties. I’m going to make a few big assumptions here. First, I assume that people who voted for the DPP in the indigenous district also voted for a green list. Likewise, I assume that KMT indigenous votes indicate blue list votes. Second, I assume that indigenous voters voted for one of the non-blue and non-green party lists at about the same rate as non-indigenous voters. This means that I have to reassign some of the votes in the third column to the first two columns. Since this is sloppy, I eyeballed it and shifted 4860 votes in Taitung (leaving an even 2000 in the “other” column) and 4000 votes in Hualien (leaving 2309). Third, I’m going to assume that 90% of these shifted votes went to a blue list and 10% went to a green list. I don’t really have any defense for these proportions other than to say they sound reasonable to me. If they don’t sound reasonable to you, remember that we are talking about relatively small numbers. If you assume it is 80-20, that only changes the final numbers by about 800 votes.

Here are the adjusted indigenous votes. Remember, these are my estimates, not actual results:

  total DPP KMT Others
Taitung 30248 4677 23571 2000
%   15.5 77.9 6.6
Hualien 35745 5194 28242 2309
%   14.5 79.0 6.5

From here, it is a relatively straightforward job to subtract these numbers from those in the first table to get the estimated party list votes for the non-indigenous electorate. These should be the voters that Liu and Hsiao were competing for.

  total DPP KMT Others
Taitung 65061 30192 30882 3987
%   46.4 47.5 6.1
Hualien 116605 46693 61644 8268
%   40.0 52.9 7.1

As a reminder, here are the actual district results:

  total DPP KMT Others
Taitung 65933 42317 23616  
%   64.2 35.8  
Hualien 117594 63231 51248 3115
%   53.8 43.6 2.6

As you can see, both Liu and Hsiao outperformed the party lists by quite a lot. Eliminating the indigenous votes does not explain the results. Taitung should have been a toss-up (which is a stunning finding in and of itself), while Hualien should still have been a fairly safe KMT seat. In reality, both were lopsided DPP wins.

 

So if indigenous voters are not the answer, what is? The green-leaning media has fallen in love with the story that Hsiao has won over a skeptical Hualien population with her years of hard work. Supposedly, they never expected to see her again after her good showing in the 2010 by-election, but she kept coming back. Moved by her sincerity, they fell in love with her. Well, I suppose there must be some truth to that story, but a lot of candidates have spent a lot of time working local districts only to be disappointed on election day. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I suspect this story makes for a better movie script than a convincing accounting of her victory.

My guess is that these two elections turned on local factional machinations. In Hualien, there has been a constant tension over the past decade between the local KMT machinery, led by outgoing legislator Wang Ting-sheng 王廷升, and the Fu faction, which is led by county magistrate Fu Kun-chi 傅崑萁. These two have repeatedly tried to undermine the other over the past several years, and I suspect Fu might have clandestinely done it again. The KMT was worried enough about this possibility that they put Fu’s wife on the party list. I had thought that this bribe would be sufficient to convince Fu to mobilize his supporters to vote for Wang, but maybe it wasn’t. The civil war in the Hualien blue camp doesn’t get a lot of headlines in the national press, but I’ll bet there are some angry accusations flying around.

In Taitung, the factional story is even more plausible. Remember, Liu has a history of cooperating with factions on the blue side. He was the deputy magistrate from 2001 to 2005 for Hsu Ching-yuan 徐慶元, who was elected as a PFP nominee. Apparently, this local PFP-DPP collaboration went very well. In 2005, Hsu did not run for re-election. Instead he supported Liu’s unsuccessful campaign to succeed him. It would not be surprising at all to me if Liu has been nurturing all those contacts for the last decade. Perhaps his blue friends weren’t willing to openly help Liu in his county magistrate campaigns against the popular Justin Huang 黃健庭, but they might have been willing to do so against the relatively unknown KMT nominee this year.

In sum, I only have a speculative explanation for these two victories. I can, however, rule out the possibility that Hualien and Taitung have already turned decisively green, once you remove the indigenous vote. Both Hsiao and Liu somehow managed to win over a large chunk of blue voters.

The Humiliation of Hau

January 20, 2016

Let’s consider the case of Hau Lung-bin. Two weeks ago, Hau seemed pretty well positioned to take over leadership of the KMT. All the other potential contenders were old (Wang, Hung, Wu, Hu), unpopular with the general electorate (Wu, Hung), unacceptable to a crucial faction within the KMT (Wang), had just been discredited by a terrible election loss in 2014 (Hu, Wu Chih-yang, Lien), or had proven to be a terrible leader as was about to suffer a humiliating election defeat (Chu). Hau was going to be the last man standing. He didn’t lose in 2014, and he was acceptable to the powerful mainlander faction in the KMT while still being perceived as more moderate than Hung. All he had to do was prove his electoral viability by winning his legislative race in Keelung, a city that had always been reliably blue until 2014.

Let’s remember that Hau originally indicated that he was going to go to southern or central Taiwan to win a difficult seat for the KMT. I even wrote a post looking at his options. In hindsight, they all look ridiculous. The DPP won all of the other possibilities by huge margins, and Hau would almost certainly have been slaughtered in any of them. Instead, Hau decided that the cautious approach was the wisest. He probably could see the DPP’s wave coming and cynically decided to save himself by choosing the one winnable race. After he muscled the locals aside, his road to the legislature and leadership of the KMT seemed to be on track.

Instead, Hau lost. Perhaps the important point isn’t merely that he lost, but just how badly he lost. He didn’t lose because there weren’t enough blue votes. He didn’t lose because the DPP nominated a spectacular candidate. He lost because blue voters didn’t vote for him. In a city that still has more blue voters than green voters, Hau could only manage to win 36.1% of the vote. This election was supposed to prove Hau’s popularity with the general public and solidify his position as the only KMT leader who could win elections in a difficult year. Instead, the Keelung electorate collectively decided to veto Hau’s aspirations to take over the KMT.

 

Hau’s basic problem was that he was unable to consolidate the blue vote. There were two other blue candidates in the race. Liu Wen-hsiung is an old PFP warhorse, and Yang Shi-cheng is a city councilor who lost to Hau in the KMT primary and ran under the MKT banner. The fact that they were in the race is insufficient to explain Hau’s loss; a strong KMT candidate would have easily marginalized these two candidates and consolidated almost all of the blue vote.

Duverger’s Law says that single seat plurality elections tend to produce two main contenders. One reason is that voters simply won’t waste their votes on trailing candidates. Why did nearly a quarter of Keelung’s electorate vote for the two minor candidates? There are several possible reasons. One, voters must be able to identify who are the leading and who are the trailing candidates. This probably wasn’t a problem. All the media focus focused on Hau and the DPP’s Tsai, and the few publicly available opinion polls also showed them to be well ahead. Besides, years of experience (including last year’s Keelung mayoral race) have shown that the KMT and DPP nominees are almost always the top two candidates. In short, many voters chose to support Yang or Liu even though they knew those two were unlikely to win. Second, the race between the top two candidates must be close enough for strategic voting to make a difference. All indications were that Hau and Tsai were in a close race, so this should have driven Liu and Yang supporters to abandon their favorites in an effort to help determine the outcome of the race. Third, potential strategic voters must have a clear preference between the top two choices. This might be a more likely culprit. Several recent surveys have shown that PFP identifiers (unsurprisingly) don’t like the DPP. More surprisingly, their evaluations of the KMT are roughly as low as those for the DPP. In other words, many PFP supporters don’t clearly prefer the KMT to the DPP. Hau’s status as an outsider who parachuted in from Taipei may also have hurt him, especially among people who voted for Yang. Yang represented the localist faction of the KMT, and his supporters might disliked the outsider Hau just as much as they disliked the DPP’s Tsai. Fourth, most models assume that strategic voters are short-term rational. This means that they care only about the outcome of this election. However, some voters might choose to vote for a hopeless candidate precisely because they care more about some long-term goal. For example, PFP or MKT supporters might have voted for Liu or Yang because they cared about the long-term health of the PFP or MKT. More intriguingly, I wonder if some light-blue voters didn’t look to the impending KMT leadership struggle and decide that the best way to support a nativist KMT leader was to vote against Hau in the legislative race.

 

Let’s look at some votes. The following table shows the party list votes aggregated into green camp (DPP, NPP, TSU, Free Taiwan, Taiwan Independence), blue camp (KMT, PFP, MKT, New, MCFAP, China Unification), and others. It also shows the four candidate’s votes:

Yang Liu Hau Tsai
list list list 楊石城 劉文雄 郝龍斌 蔡適應
green blue Other MKT PFP KMT DPP
.
87915 92463 11963 19,045 23,485 68,632 78,707
.              
中正 11971 13051 1602 2,202 3,336 9,242 10,530
信義 11529 14320 1756 2,414 3,491 11,284 10,152
仁愛 11421 10673 1365 2,329 2,942 8,139 10,057
中山 11923 11889 1404 5,480 2,525 7,645 9,646
安樂 19208 20158 2629 3,434 4,588 15,192 18,521
暖暖 8354 9844 1252 1,529 2,752 7,542 7,455
七堵 13509 12528 1955 1,657 3,851 9,588 12,346

On the party lists, there were about 4,500 more blue votes than green votes. (This might be a bit misleading since it includes about 3,500 indigenous voters who didn’t vote in the district election. The DPP only got about 500 of those votes, so the overall blue advantage in the legislative district was probably closer to 2,000 votes. I’m going to ignore the indigenous vote for the rest of the post.) However, Tsai was not able to soak up all the green votes. Nearly 9,000 green list voters split their tickets and voted for a blue district candidate. Given this, the race should have been winnable for Hau.

Some people like thinking in numbers of votes, but I think it is often easier to think in vote shares.

  List Tsai list Hau
  Green DPP blue KMT
.        
45.7 41.5 48.1 36.1
.
中正 Zhongzheng 45.0 41.6 49.0 36.5
信義 Xinyi 41.8 37.1 51.9 41.3
仁愛 Ren-ai 48.7 42.9 45.5 34.7
中山 Zhongshan 47.3 38.1 47.1 30.2
安樂 Anle 45.7 44.4 48.0 36.4
暖暖 Nuannuan 43.0 38.7 50.6 39.1
七堵 Qidu 48.3 45.0 44.8 34.9

Hau ran 11.9% behind the blue list vote. This gap was similar everywhere except Zhongshan District, where he ran 16.9% behind the list. Tsai ran 4.3% behind the green list vote. He also did worse in Zhongshan, where he was 9.2% behind. However, he did better in Anle, where he was only 1.4% behind. If you guessed that Tsai’s city council district is Anle, you guessed correctly.

Let’s look at the other two candidates. This time we’ll compare their votes with their party’s list share.

  List Liu list Yang
  PFP PFP MKT MKT
.        
9.2 12.4 2.0 10.0
.
中正 Zhongzheng 9.5 13.2 2.0 8.7
信義 Xinyi 9.1 12.8 1.9 8.8
仁愛 Ren-ai 8.4 12.5 2.0 9.9
中山 Zhongshan 9.2 10.0 2.8 21.7
安樂 Anle 9.4 11.0 1.8 8.2
暖暖 Nuannuan 9.9 14.3 1.9 7.9
七堵 Qidu 8.8 14.0 1.7 6.0

 

Keelung is one of the PFP’s stronger areas, as its list garnered 9.2% here compared to 6.5% nationally. Like in the rest of the country, Soong got roughly twice as many presidential votes (16.5%) as the PFP list. Liu Wen-hsiung split the difference, getting 12.4% of the vote. Liu’s vote thus looks like it is mostly a party vote rather than a personal vote. These PFP voters might be part of the blue camp when it comes to national identity, but they seem fed up with the KMT. Many of them didn’t give any of their three votes to the KMT, something the new KMT leadership should probably reflect upon.

Finally, we come to Yang Shi-cheng and the MKT. Unlike the other parties, the MKT doesn’t really have much of a presence. Its party list only got 2.0% in Keelung, and Yang’s vote seems to be rather unrelated to the MKT support. I imagine most people who voted for the MKT list probably also voted for Yang, but the vast majority of his votes came from other sources. You have probably guessed by now that Zhongshan is Yang’s city council district, and he got more than twice as much support in Zhongshan as in the rest of the city. Since each of the other three candidates’ vote shares suffered in Zhongshan, it stands to reason that Yang’s local networks extended into KMT, DPP, and PFP vote bases alike. In the rest of the city, I think that Yang’s vote probably reflects the localist backlash against Hau. We saw a similar backlash in the 2014 mayoral election. The KMT can probably win these votes back, but only if they stop nominating outsiders from Taipei.

Hau lost the race by 5.4%. He probably could have won the race if he had been able to make an alliance with the localist faction represented by Yang. However, this is precisely the part of the former KMT coalition that is furious with the mainlander KMT elite for their treatment of Speaker Wang and their efforts to promote ideological purists such as Hung Hsiu-chu. There were some districts in which these voters stayed with the KMT, especially in central Taiwan. However, the nominees in those districts were almost all from the nativist wing of the KMT. Hau is decidedly not from that wing.

In the wake of the election, several KMT pundits have attempted to downplay the KMT’s defeat by pointing to low turnout, the K-pop singer incident, and the splintering of the blue camp vote by other parties. All the KMT needs to do, they suggest, is simply to consolidate the blue vote. Keelung’s experience suggests there is nothing simple about it. A localist candidate might have won, but that would have required Hau to put his leadership ambitions aside. More generally, the orthodox wing of the KMT seems unwilling to put aside or water down its ideological positions or to yield leadership of the party to the nativist wing. Absent those sorts of compromises, the KMT might be headed for a future with many more races like Keelung.

KMT loses seniority in LY

January 20, 2016

A lot of KMT incumbents lost last Saturday, and many of them were quite senior. I thought I’d add up all the seniority that the KMT lost in the massacre. For example, Lee Ching-hua, who lost in New Taipei 12, was first elected in 1992 and has served seven terms. There were nineteen such losers in the 73 district races:

name name district Terms
丁守中 Ting Shou-chung Taipei 1 7
林郁方 Lin Yu-fang Taipei 5 5
吳育昇 Wu Yu-sheng New Taipei 1 3
黃志雄 Huang Chih-hsiung New Taipei 5 2
江惠貞 Chiang Hui-chen New Taipei 7 1
張慶忠 Chang Ching-chung New Taipei 8 3
盧嘉辰 Lu Chia-chen New Taipei 10 2
李慶華 Lee Ching-hua New Taipei 12 7
陳根德 Chen Ken-te Taoyuan 1 5
廖正井 Liao Cheng-ching Taoyuan 2 2
楊麗環 Yang Li-huan Taoyuan 4 4
孫大千 Sun Ta-chien Taoyuan 6 4
楊瓊瓔 Yang Chiung-ying Taichung 3 5
蔡錦隆 Tsai Chin-lung Taichung 4 3
林國正 Lin Kuo-cheng Kaohsiung 9 1
林滄敏 Lin Tsang-min Changhua 2 3
鄭汝芬 Cheng Ju-fen Changhua 3 2
王進士 Wang Chin-shih Pingtung 2 2
王廷升 Wang Ting-sheng Hualien 2

That’s 19 KMT incumbents who ran for re-election but lost on Saturday. They collectively had 68 terms of seniority. But wait, there’s more. There were several KMT district legislators who did not make it to the ballot. Some of them lost in the primary, and some of them voluntarily retired. However, in political science we tend to look at “voluntary” retirements somewhat skeptically. Often the person would like to continue in office, but he or she makes a judgment that re-election is quite unlikely and chooses to “retire.” So I’m going to list all the KMT district incumbents who didn’t make it to the final ballot.

name name district Terms
羅淑蕾 Lo Shu-lei Taipei 3 * 3
蔡正元 Alex Tsai Taipei 4 * 4
林鴻池 Lin Hung-chih New Taipei 6 3
徐欣瑩 Hsu Hsin-ying Hsinchu County * 1
張嘉郡 Chang Chia-chun Yunlin 1 2
翁重鈞 Weng Chung-chun Chiayi 1 7
謝國樑 Hsieh Kuo-liang Keelung 3
呂學樟 Lu Hsueh-chang Hsinchu City 4

* KMT held the seat with a different candidate.

Nine KMT district incumbents didn’t make it to the final ballot. They collectively had 28 terms of seniority. However, this is a little misleading. The KMT held onto three of the nine seats. In fact, Hsu Hsin-ying had already defected from the KMT to form the MKT, so maybe we should consider the KMT to have regained the Hsinchu County seat. Anyway, the six KMT districts who retired and whose seats were taken by the DPP had a collective 20 terms of seniority.

[Maybe I should mention Hau Lung-bin, who wasn’t an incumbent legislator but did serve two terms back in the 1990s.]

If you are counting at home, that makes 25 KMT district incumbents whose seats were taken by the green side. Those 25 KMT legislators had a total of 83 terms under their belts, or an average of 3.3 terms each. That adds up to roughly 300 years of seniority. To put that in perspective, the 24 KMT candidates who won district or indigenous seats only have a total of 48 terms.

name name district Terms
蔣萬安 Chiang Wan-an Taipei 3 0
李彥秀 Lee Yan-hsiu Taipei 4 0
蔣乃辛 Chiang Nai-hsin Taipei 6 2
費鴻泰 Alex Fai Taipei 7 3
賴士葆 Lai Shih-bao Taipei 8 4
林德福 Lin Teh-fu New Taipei 9 4
羅明才 Luo Ming-tsai New Taipei 11 5
陳學聖 Apollo Chen Taoyuan 3 3
呂玉玲 Lu Yu-ling Taoyuan 5 1
顏寬恒 Yen Kuan-heng Taichung 2 1
盧秀燕 Lu Hsiu-yen Taichung 5 5
江啟臣 Chiang Chi-chen Taichung 8 1
林為洲 Lin Wei-chou Hsinchu County 1
陳超明 Chen Chao-ming Miaoli 1 2
徐志榮 Hsu Chih-jung Miaoli 2 1
王惠美 Wang Hui-mei Changhua 1 1
馬文君 Ma Wen-chun Nantou 1 2
許淑華 Hsu Shu-hua Nantou 2 1
楊鎮浯 Yang Chen-wu Kinmen 0
陳雪生 Chen Hsueh-sheng Lienchiang 1
鄭天財 Sra.Kacaw Lowland Indigenous 1
廖國棟 Sufin.Siluko Lowland Indigenous 4
孔文吉 Kung Wen-chi Highland Indigenous 3
簡東明 Uliw.Qaljupayare Highland Indigenous 2

 

With all that experience wiped away, the next KMT caucus is going to have a very different set of internal dynamics.

 

Was the DPP’s alliance strategy successful

January 19, 2016

One of the DPP’s more controversial campaign decisions this year was to form alliances with various “progressive” parties and politicians in legislative races. The DPP did not nominate its own candidate in 11 of the 73 legislative district races. Instead, it supported a hodgepodge of 3 New Power Party, 1 TSU, 1 PFP, 1 Green/Social Democrat, and 5 independent candidates. All of these were nominated in what the DPP formally designated as “difficult” districts, so it seemed unlikely that the DPP could win any of them on its own. Instead, the DPP (probably Tsai) decided to follow last year’s successful Ko P model, cooperating with a candidate who might have some appeal across party lines.

How did this turn out? The NPP won all three of its races, and an independent candidate in Taoyuan 6 also won. It’s hard to fault any strategy that produced 4 victories in 11 seemingly impossible races, right?

Hold on there, hoss. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know what’s coming. I think the cooperation strategy was actually not very successful at all. I think the DPP could have won all three districts that the NPP ran in, and it might have won two or three others. In other words, their alliance strategy may have cost them seats.

The DPP’s definition of a difficult district was always too restrictive. They designated 29 districts as “difficult” since their legislative candidates had won less than 42.5% in 2012. Given the DPP’s difficulties in indigenous districts, they needed to win at least 40 of the 73 districts. By designating 29 as difficult, they were considering 44 as clearly winnable. In hindsight, that seems laughable now. It should have been clearly wrong then too, since the DPP did quite well in the presidential and party list votes in some of the districts. At any rate, the 11 districts that they eventually yielded were chosen from these 29 difficult districts.

As we all know now, there has been a major swing in partisan patterns over the past four years. Districts that seemed close four years ago were landslides this time. Districts that were solidly blue last time were close or even flipped green this time. If the DPP’s allied candidates won five seats, was it because of their personal attractions, or were there simply enough green votes to go around this time?

My strategy for this analysis is to look at the party list votes. There were 18 parties. I classify five of them as green parties (DPP, NPP, TSU, Free Taiwan, Taiwan Independence), six of them as blue (KMT, MKT, PFP, New, MCFAP, Chinese Unification) and seven as unclear. The smaller parties were not formally allied with the camps, but I’ll assume that diehard independence (unification) voters would usually vote for the green (blue) camp candidate if forced to choose. It isn’t very many votes, so classifying the tiny parties doesn’t really affect things very much anyway. The most important unclear parties are the Green/SDP, Trees, and Faith and Hope Alliance. I’ll assume that, if forced to choose in a blue vs green legislative race, these voters would either abstain, vote for a minor party, or split their votes fairly evenly. (Green/SDP and Trees would probably tend to support the green side, while Faith and Hope would probably support the blue side.) To put it another way, we can probably simply ignore the unclear parties and concentrate on the blue and green camp votes.

 

Let’s look at Taipei City first. Unfortunately, the CEC aggregates party list votes up to the administrative district, and six of the eight electoral districts cross administrative lines. Still, these numbers are revealing.

  list List List % List %
  Green Blue Green blue
Taipei 696855 652971 47.8 44.8
.        
Beitou 73180 58289 51.9 41.4
Shilin 86779 62815 54.1 39.2
Datong 43484 24657 60.2 34.1
Zhongshan 63996 52403 51.2 41.9
Songshan 50132 53468 44.7 47.7
Neihu 70662 69685 46.4 45.8
Nangang 31885 29429 48.4 44.7
Wanhua 57191 45848 52.3 41.9
Zhongzheng 37915 39695 44.8 46.9
Da-an 68673 80623 42.1 49.5
Xinyi 55753 60108 44.6 48.1
Wenshan 57205 75951 39.0 51.8

Taipei 1, where DPP city councilor Wu Su-yao beat seven-term KMT incumbent Ting Shou-chung, includes Beitou and a small portion of Shilin. Many people have talked about this result as an upset, but it is clear from the party vote that the green camp has a solid majority in this district. Wu simply consolidated the green vote and won easily. Taipei 2 (Datong and most of Shilin) was already a DPP district, so we’ll ignore it.

Taipei 5 (Wanhua and most of Zhongzheng) was Freddy Lim’s district. Many people, including me, thought that this should be considered a blue-leaning district, but the party vote shows us wrong. The green side had a significant advantage in Wanhua and was almost even in Zhongzheng. Freddy didn’t win because Lin Yu-fang self-destructed. Freddy won because the national partisan patterns shifted, and he was running in a majority green district.

Taipei 6 is Da-an. The DPP yielded this district to Fan Yun, of the SDP. She lost to the KMT candidate by a 46-35% margin. According to the party list votes, this district is about a 49-42 blue camp advantage. Fan Yun not only didn’t bring any extra votes to the table, she wasn’t even able to soak up all the available green camp votes. The DPP probably wouldn’t have won this race with a DPP candidate, but it might have been closer.

In Taipei 7 (Xinyi plus a bit of Songshan) and Taipei 8 (Wenshan plus a bit of Zhongshan), the DPP allied with two independents who until 2014 were deep blue KMT city councilors. Yang Shi-chiu in Taipei 7 surprised many people by coming within a few thousand votes of winning, a result that seemed to justify the collaboration. However, a look at the party list votes shows that, once again, it was the new national partisan balance that was doing much of the hard work. It must be pointed out that Yang’s vote was not simply the green vote. There were over 17,000 votes cast for the Green/SDP candidate, while the Green/SDP list only got about 5,000-6,000 votes. Many of these extra votes were probably from green camp supporters who could not stomach voting for an old deep blue politician such as Yang, regardless of the DPP’s recommendation. Yang may have brought a few votes with him from the blue side, but since the final margin looks like the difference in the party list vote, it appears that for every vote Yang brought over from the blue side, there were two green voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for him. The same sort of thing seems to have happened in Taipei 8, where the Green/SDP candidate got over 22,000 votes (but their list was under 10,000). In Taipei 8, the partisan balance was probably not close enough that the DPP could have won, but it might have had a chance in Taipei 7 if everything had gone just right. At the very least, those 30,000 or so green camp sympathizers who cast a protest vote for the Green/SDP would have been much happier at the voting booth, and that should count for something.

This leaves Taipei 3 and 4, the two really interesting districts. Taipei 3 (Zhongshan and two-thirds of Songshan) is very similar to Taipei 5 in partisan balance. In the past it has had a clear blue camp advantage, but this year the party list votes say it should have been a green district. The DPP originally nominated a candidate who would have been a strong contender to knock of the KMT imperial prince, Chiang Wan-an. Instead, the green camp support was split between a controversial doctor and a Green/SDP candidate. The cooperation strategy very probably cost the DPP this seat and launched the political career of a possible KMT star. Bad, bad mistake.

In Taipei 4 (Nangang and Neihu), the DPP supported PFP city councilor Huang Shan-shan. Huang came within 4,000 votes of winning, so it looks like the strategy almost paid off. The primary reason it failed was that a lot of – perhaps 30,000 – green camp voters simply couldn’t stomach voting for a PFP politician and voted for the TSU, NPP, or Green/SDP candidates. However, a look at the party list votes suggests that a straight KMT/DPP race would have been a tossup, or perhaps even favor the DPP. If Huang had run in a KMT/DPP/PFP race (as seemed likely), the DPP would have had a decisive advantage. They had a perfectly capable candidate who was eager to run, but DPP party leaders decided not to nominate her. The cooperation strategy probably cost the DPP this seat. It also pissed off a lot of loyal green camp voters, which is not a great party-building strategy.

These party list figures also call into question the effectiveness of the so-called “Ko P” strategy. Unlike most people, I’ve always assumed that Ko Wen-je’s personal appeal had very little to do with winning the 2014 mayor race. I have always thought that Sean Lien’s ability to drive away blue camp voters was the most important factor in Ko’s victory and that, if the KMT had nominated a relatively uncontroversial candidate such as Ting Shou-chung, it would have easily defeated Ko. Now I’m not so sure. These party list numbers suggest that the green side has an advantage in Taipei City. It isn’t big, but in a straight blue/green fight, the green side has a better chance of winning. In other words, the effect of Ko’s personal appeal and/or Lien’s negative personal appeal may have been simply to turn a narrow Ko victory into a Ko landslide.

 

  list List List % List % Dist Dist
  Green Blue Green blue Green blue
.            
All N.T. 1100815 880483 52.0% 41.6%    
.            
D1 105577 87464 49.9% 41.4% 110243 84582
~D8 104094 112012 44.9% 48.3% 100543 75738
~D9 48535 64953 39.6% 53.0% 46660 82761
D10 97454 72755 53.9% 40.2% 102854 67619
D11 77002 97341 40.7% 51.5% 67777 93962
D12 80347 69839 50.2% 43.6% 80508 68318

New Taipei has apparently become a solidly green city. (I am of the opinion that Eric Chu’s win in 2014 was a tremendous personal achievement, but, because the halo around him has faded so badly, there is no way he would win again if the mayoral election were held today.) Eight of the twelve electoral districts in New Taipei cross administrative lines. I am showing the four that do not plus two very interesting ones (D8 and D9).

D1, D10, and D11 all ended up being simple KMT vs DPP races. In all three, the final outcome came very close to the aggregated party list result. We always try to focus on the unique factors of every race, especially in one with as many twists and turns as D1 had this year, but sometimes the easiest answer is best. These races basically fell along party lines.

D12 was one of the districts that the DPP yielded to the NPP. Huang Kuo-chang beat seven term KMT incumbent and scion of the royal vizier’s household, Lee Ching-hua. For all the uniqueness of the two candidates, the final result was almost exactly the same as the blue/green party vote.

D9 includes all of Yonghe plus a bit of Zhonghe. D8 is the rest of Zhonghe. The part of Zhonghe in D9 is bluer than the rest of Zhonghe and almost as blue as Yonghe. On the table, I show all of Zhonghe as ~D8 (read: not quite exactly D8) and all of Yonghe as ~D9. You should mentally adjust D8 to be a bit greener.

The DPP didn’t bother nominating anyone in D9, one of the bluest districts in the country. The alliance with independent Lee Hsin-chang didn’t seem to work out very well. Lee ended up with under 30% while the green camp party lists had almost 40%. This is still a very blue district, and there was very little chance of winning. Still, parties should try to soak up all their potential votes, and this alliance led 10% of voters who might want to support a DPP candidate to look elsewhere.

D8 was a straight party to party fight, so it isn’t relevant to this post’s topic. However, I can’t resist a tangent. D8 is Chang Ching-chung’s district. You might remember him as the guy who set off the Sunflower movement. The party list numbers say that D8 is – incredibly – now almost a tossup district. However, “30 Second Chang” lost by a whopping 25,000 votes. This might be one of those rare districts in which the partisan balance can’t explain almost everything. It is quite possible that a number of voters who would have otherwise voted for the KMT were disgusted by Chang’s behavior in the legislature.

 

On to Taoyuan. Four of the six electoral districts cross administrative lines. D4 is most of Taoyuan District, but a little bit goes into D1. This doesn’t have much partisan impact on either D1 or D4. D3 includes most of Zhongli, but a little bit of Zhongli goes into D6. This is important, since the part that is in D6 is almost entirely military communities and votes heavily for the KMT. In your head, please adjust D3 to be somewhat greener and D6 to be somewhat bluer than the table shows.

 

  list List List % List % Dist Dist
  Green Blue Green Blue Green Blue
.            
Taoyuan 513473 478398 48.2 44.9    
.            
~D1 78616 60988 52.6% 40.8% 85955 80142
D2 95061 75718 52.3% 41.7% 89792 76473
~D3 86013 97886 42.9% 48.8% 77120 77510
~D4 106370 91846 49.9% 43.1% 86389 86220
D5 75277 83304 44.0% 48.7% 70202 72965
~D6 70797 65755 48.8% 45.4% 75510 76278

 

For this post, we are mostly interested in D6, where the DPP cooperated with an independent. However, I can’t resist a comment or two about Taoyuan as a whole.

Holy shit! Taoyuan is green?? I know the DPP won the mayoral election in 2014, but I’m still coming to grips with this stunning transformation of the political landscape. (Ok, sorry for that outburst.)

All the races except D2 were very close. D1 and D4 should have been comfortable DPP wins, but the KMT incumbents seem to have made up some ground and turned them into closer races. D3 is probably still slightly blue, even after accounting for the parts of Zhongli that are in D6. However, this party list result goes a long way toward explaining the tight district race.

The independent allied with the DPP won D6 in one of the biggest upsets of election night. However, the party list results suggest that maybe it wasn’t such a big upset after all. The KMT candidate won in Zhongli by 6000 votes, so it looks as if this race went almost exactly along party lines. However, if that is correct, the DPP might have been able to win this district with its own candidate. Remember, once in the legislature, there is no guarantee that an independent legislator will always cooperate with the DPP. Given the choice, they should always prefer legislator from their own party. Since they did win what most people thought was an unwinnable race, it’s hard to criticize the decision to cooperate with an independent too much. They might have had polling data that said D6 was a tossup partisan district, but I can personally attest that years of staring at KMT victories make a person hesitant to believe those data. I guess I’ll say that even if the cooperation strategy wasn’t exactly a mistake, it also wasn’t the smashing success that many people think it was.

 

Let’s look at a few numbers from Taichung. D2 and D7 have a small overlap, and D1 and D6 were DPP landslides, so let’s look at the other four districts.

 

  list List List % List % Dist Dist
  Green Blue Green Blue Green Blue
.            
Taichung 754083 584991 52.7 40.9    
.            
D3 95712 68362 55.3% 39.5% 93451 78334
D4 95366 82577 49.4% 42.7% 100649 70124
D5 104991 93352 49.1% 43.6% 84117 108446
D8 79055 59621 53.8% 40.6% 70549 72024

 

D3 was one of the three districts that the DPP yielded to the NPP. Like the other two, this one ended up almost perfectly along partisan lines. Remind me again why the DPP couldn’t run its own candidate in this district.

According to the party list vote, D4 and D5 are almost exactly the same; both should have a clear green advantage. However, the DPP won D4 by a landslide while the KMT won D5 by a landslide. Perhaps Lu Hsiu-yen in D5 should speak a little more loudly in the upcoming fights over the KMT’s future, since she is one of the very few party members with an electoral record to be proud of. It may have helped that the DPP did not run a candidate against her but instead entrusted the duty to a TSU politician. Perhaps some of the more moderate voters couldn’t stomach voting for a candidate from an extremist party. Again, the collaborationist strategy doesn’t seem to have much payoff.

Chiang Chi-chen in D8 also turned a big partisan disadvantage into a victory, but he did it against a DPP candidate. The NPP wanted to run Hsu Yung-ming in this district, but the DPP wouldn’t yield. That decision didn’t work out so well. This is a good reminder that we shouldn’t assume that the decision not to collaborate will always work out well. Who knows; Hsu might have been able to absorb all the green votes and defeat Chiang.

The last case is Hsinchu County, where the blue party lists had a 54.0-39.5% (143,018 to 104,517) advantage over the green party lists. Hsinchu was a complicated three-way race in which all the candidates had a history in one of the other parties. It probably isn’t the best place to try to apply a party vote-based analytic strategy. The DPP backed independent lost to the KMT candidate by a margin of 93,495 to 85,170. I have no idea whether that was a success or not. If the DPP had a true-green candidate able to connect with grassroots voters, they probably would have done better with her. However, I’m not sure that person exists right now.

 

Overall, I am quite skeptical that the collaboration strategy helped the DPP. I think they could have won as many or more seats if they had nominated candidates in all 73 districts. They also wouldn’t have invited their voters to vote for other parties or asked them to cast a (painful) ballot for an erstwhile blue camp politician. Of course, there weren’t obvious DPP candidates to run in all the districts, and there were probably compelling national-level strategic reasons for Tsai Ing-wen to want cooperation with a number of smaller parties. And since the DPP won a comfortable single-party majority, it is hard to evaluate their electoral strategy too harshly. However, strictly from a district-level outcome-based perspective, I have to conclude that I think the costs of cooperating outweighed the benefits for the DPP.

 

 

 

 

KMT security deposits

January 18, 2016

I’ve been inputting election numbers for years, so I’ve seen lots of cases of hopeless races where the main challenger loses by a huge margin. What’s different this year is that the hopeless challengers are KMT candidates. You can’t imagine how disorienting it is to me to see a result like DPP 146,414, KMT 35,742. This does not compute. However, that’s a real result from Tainan 2. I think the best way to illustrate just how badly a few KMT candidates got beaten is to point out that a few of them won’t get their security deposits back. To discourage frivolous candidacies, candidates pay a security deposit when they register. As long as they can get at least one-third as many votes as the winner (or one-half in a multi-seat district) they get the deposit back after the election. Of course, the major candidates ALWAYS get the deposit back. Except not this year.

Pingtung 3: KMT nominee Hsu Chin-ju 許謹如 got 12.8% of the vote. DPP winner Chuang Jui-hsiung 莊瑞雄 got 4.18 times as many votes.

Tainan 2: KMT nominee Huang Yao-sheng 黃耀盛 got 18.7% of the vote. DPP winner Huang Wei-che 黃偉哲 got 4.10 times as many votes.

Kaohsiung 4: KMT nominee Kuo Lun-hao 郭倫豪 got 23.2% of the vote. DPP winner Lin Tai-hua 林岱樺 got 3.25 times as many votes.

Tainan 1: KMT nominee Huang Jui-kun 黃瑞坤 got 22.2% of the vote. DPP winner Yeh Yi-chin 葉宜津 got 3.21 times as many votes.

There were also seven other districts in which the DPP nominee got more than twice as many votes as the KMT nominee. Those KMT nominees got their security deposits back, but some of these cases were very close, including Tainan 5 in which the DPP candidate got 2.97 times as many votes as the KMT candidate.

It’s just strange to see districts in which the KMT is not merely the minority, but is actually no longer competitive.

______________________________________________

Update: Bob Kao from the fantastic Taiwan Law Blog has pointed out (correctly) that I’m a big, fat, stupid idiot. According to the Article 32 of the Election and Recall Law, the threshold for getting one’s security deposit back is one-tenth of all eligible voters, not one-third of the winner’s total.

According to my (new) calculations,Hsu Chin-ju in Pingtung 3, who got 8.0% of the eligible votes was the only KMT candidate who fell below the threshold. The candidates in Tainan 2 (12.0%) and Tainan 1 (13.2%) just barely cleared the threshold. So sorry, almost all of the KMT candidates will get their security deposit back.

So what is the one-third thing that my lousy memory told me was the threshold for security deposits. According to Article 43 of the Election and Recall Law, any candidate (in a single seat district) getting at least one-third of the votes of the winner is eligible for a subsidy of NT30 per vote. The four candidates listed above will not be getting that subsidy.

This is perhaps not as big a blow as you might think. Since they didn’t get many votes, the subsidies wouldn’t have been very large anyway. While all money is useful, these subsidies would have only covered a fraction of campaign costs. Here is the amount they won’t be getting:

Pingtung 3: KMT nominee Hsu Chin-ju 許謹如: NT 482,910

Tainan 2: KMT nominee Huang Yao-sheng 黃耀盛: NT 1,072,260

Kaohsiung 4: KMT nominee Kuo Lun-hao 郭倫豪: NT 1,131,330

Tainan 1: KMT nominee Huang Jui-kun 黃瑞坤 NT 1,100,520

Anyway, the general point I was trying to make still stands. To put it in the type of legalese that Bob will appreciate: Holy shit, there were some KMT candidates who got totally destroyed!

Did blue voters stay home?

January 18, 2016

Turnout was lower than many expected. The previous low for turnout in a presidential election was 74.4% (in 2012), but this time turnout dropped to 66.3%. Some drop was expected, since the presidential race was not close and because the election was scheduled so near to the Lunar New Year holiday and university students’ final exams. However, many people have also speculated that a disproportionate number of demoralized blue voters would stay at home. We’ll never have a definitive answer to whether this was the case because we don’t have exit polls. The post-election academic surveys will provide some evidence, but those won’t be release for several months.

In the meantime, we can look for crude patterns in the district-level turnout data. If the hypothesis is correct, we should probably see larger drops in turnout in blue districts than in green districts. I’m going to use the number of valid votes to calculate turnout. (The actual figure includes both valid and invalid votes. These numbers are now available on the CEC website, but I’m going to save time and just use valid votes. Arguably, valid votes are a better indicator, since many disgruntled blue voters may have cast invalid votes.) Overall, turnout in the 73 districts dropped from 74.0% to 65.2%, a drop of 9.2%. However, some dropped more. For example, Hsinchu County dropped 12.4% and New Taipei 9 dropped 12.0%. Some dropped less, such as Chiayi County 1 (6.0%) and Pingtung 2 (6.8%). Not coincidentally, Hsinchu County and New Taipei 9 are very blue, while Chiayi County 1 and Pingtung 2 are very green. Those examples are not misleading, though the pattern is not usually quite so stark. The correlation between the drop in turnout and Tsai’s 2012 vote share in the 73 districts is 0.55, a very strong relationship. However, much of that is driven by Kinmen and Lienchiang, where lower turnout was probably driven by a surge in household registrations by people who don’t actually live there. If we only look at the other 71 districts, the correlation is 0.26, which is still quite impressive for such a crude test. Thus, there is some evidence for the hypothesis that blue voters disproportionately stayed home.

However, let’s not overdo it. There are some people who seem to think that this was the main cause of the KMT’s defeat. There is simply no way that a drop of less than 10% in turnout can make up for a 25% gap in the presidential vote or even a gap of about 13% in the average legislative district race. Remember, many of those people who didn’t vote would have voted for the green side, so you can’t simply add 9.2% to the KMT’s total. There might have been a pattern, but it certainly did not drive the overall result. The KMT’s disaster cannot simply be blamed on poor turnout.