So here’s a fun little exercise. I took the election results from the 2009 and 2010 local executive races and plugged them into the 73 legislative districts. The blue camp wins 39 seats, and the green camp wins 34. For reference, in 2008 the blue camp won 60 of these districts. In this exercise, the green camp picks up 21 new districts (relative to 2008) without losing any.
Of course, we have had several by-elections since the 2008 general election, and the green camp has won several unlikely seats, such as Taoyuan 3 and Hsinchu County. In this exercise, the green camp loses three of these seats (those two plus Taidong). The blue camp also wins back Miaoli 1, which is currently held by an independent who has some ties with the green camp.
This does not represent an upper limit for the green camp. In this exercise, it loses several seats by narrow margins. Some of these include Taipei County 7, Taipei County 10, Taoyuan 4, Taichung City 3, Taichung County 2, and Penghu. Chiayi City is also a strong candidate to go green in the next election. The four Changhua seats look a bit precarious to me; the same phenomenon that has affected Yunlin, Chiayi, and seems to be slowly transforming Taichung could also be operating in Changhua. However, the DPP doesn’t appear to have any candidates strong enough to match the KMT incumbents there.
Of course, there are a few seats that this exercise gives to the DPP that I am skeptical of. I don’t think the DPP will sweep all eight Kaohsiung seats. (Note: Chen Chu got an outright majority in six of the eight. She was close enough to a majority in the other two that I awarded them to the green camp. In the closest race (Kaohsiung City 1), you would have to assume that over 90% of Yang’s votes came from the blue camp to throw that seat to the blue camp.) The green camp also wins several seats by razor thin margins, including Taipei County 6, Taoyuan 1, Taichung County 1, and Taichung County 3, as well as a few others by merely close margins.
Now, I know that you can’t just plug mayoral numbers into legislative races. There are different issues, a different national swing, and different candidates. This last point deserves highlighting: the KMT has an overwhelming advantage in incumbency. However, I’m not convinced that incumbency is quite as overwhelming an advantage as many people believe. In American politics, many people see very high re-election rates and conclude that incumbency confers an overwhelming advantage. How else could incumbents win so many districts in which their national party is so unpopular? It must be all that constituency service and pork. I’m not so sure. I think that American legislators are also very successful because they can position themselves as “a different kind of Democrat.” American politics has enough dimensions that you can be against gay rights, for gun rights, and against abortion and still be a good Democrat if you are against the war in Iraq, against tax cuts, and for health care. In other words, legislators can adjust their ideological packaging to fit their district. In Taiwan, this is not so easy because there is only one big political cleavage. Attending funerals will only get you so far if voters think you consistently disagree with them on the big picture.
Moreover, plugging executive races into representative districts is not as unreasonable as it used to be. For years, there was a big spread between executive races and representative races. The DPP might do 10-15% better in the former. This was mostly because of the multimember district electoral system, which allowed local factions to avoid conflicts in representative elections. The system also played into the KMT’s advantage in personal networks. However, the new legislative electoral system has single seat districts, so these races, like executive races, are largely one-on-one contests.
I’m not suggesting that we should expect exactly this result if the legislative elections were held tomorrow. However, I imagine that those election results would look more like the table below than like the 2008 results.
The point of all this is that control of the legislature will be at stake in the next election. There is a real possibility that the DPP could win a majority. There is a very large group of seats that flip to the DPP right around the point that the DPP gets 50% nationally. Many people assume that because the KMT has several “cheap” seats (six aboriginal seats, Jinmen, Lianjiang), that the DPP would have to win the national vote by something like 55-60% to win the legislature. In fact, 51% would probably be enough. Unlike in 2000 or 2004, if the DPP wins the presidency in 2012, it might also win the legislature.
|Taipei City 1||Beitou||B||B|
|Taipei City 2||Datong-Shilin||B||G||G|
|Taipei City 3||Zhongshan-Songshan||B||B|
|Taipei City 4||Nangang-Neihu||B||B|
|Taipei City 5||Wanhua-Zhongzheng||B||B|
|Taipei City 6||Da-an||B||B|
|Taipei City 7||Xinyi-Songshan||B||B|
|Taipei City 8||Wenshan-Zhongzheng||B||B|
|Taipei County 1||Danshui||B||B|
|Taipei County 2||Luzhou||G||G|
|Taipei County 3||Sanchong||G||G|
|Taipei County 4||Xinzhuang||B||G||G|
|Taipei County 5||Shulin||B||G||G|
|Taipei County 6||Banqiao north||B||G||G|
|Taipei County 7||Banqiao south||B||B|
|Taipei County 8||Zhonghe||B||B|
|Taipei County 9||Yonghe||B||B|
|Taipei County 10||Tucheng||B||B|
|Taipei County 11||Xindian||B||B|
|Taipei County 12||Xizhi||B||B|
|Taoyuan 2||SW coast||B*||G||G|
|Miaoli 1||Coast (Minnan)||B*||B|
|Miaoli 2||Inland (Hakka)||B||B|
|Taichung City 1||W: Xitun-Nantun||B||B|
|Taichung City 2||N: North-Beitun||B||B|
|Taichung City 3||Central-South-East-West||B||B|
|Taichung County 1||NW: Dajia-Qingshui||B||G||G|
|Taichung County 2||SW: Da-Wu-Long||B||B|
|Taichung County 3||SE: Taiping-Dali||B*||G||G|
|Taichung County 4||NE: Fengyuan-Dongshi||B||G||G|
|Taichung County 5||N: Tanzi-Daya||B||G||G|
|Changhua 1||NW: Lugang||B||B|
|Changhua 2||NE: Changhua City||B||B|
|Changhua 3||SW: Erlin||B||B|
|Changhua 4||SE: Yuanlin||B||B|
|Nantou 1||N: Caotun-Puli||B||B|
|Nantou 2||S: Nantou-Zhushan||B||B|
|Chiayi County 1||Coast||B||G||G|
|Chiayi County 2||Inland||G||G|
|Tainan County 1||NW: Xinying||G||G|
|Tainan County 2||NE: Shanhua||G||G|
|Tainan County 3||SE: Yongkang||G||G|
|Tainan City 1||North||G||G|
|Tainan City 2||South||G||G|
|Kaohsiung County 1||NE: Meinong||B||G||G|
|Kaohsiung County 2||NW: Gangshan||B||G||G|
|Kaohsiung County 3||SE: Daliao||G||G|
|Kaohsiung County 4||Fengshan||B||G||G|
|Kaohsiung City 1||Nanzi-Zuoying||B||G||G|
|Kaohsiung City 2||Gushan||G||G|
|Kaohsiung City 3||Sanmin||B||G||G|
|Kaohsiung City 4||Lingya||B||G||G|
|Kaohsiung City 5||Xiaogang||G||G|
|Pingdong 2||Pingdong City||B||G||G|