Posts Tagged ‘Eric Chu’

campaign trail: Chu in Yonghe

November 26, 2010

Last night, I went to see Su Tseng-chang in Wanhua, right next to the Longshan Temple.  There was not too much available space, but it was all completely packed.  It is hard to estimate crowds in irregular spaces; my best guess is 3000, give or take 500.  The crowd was pretty enthusiastic, which was not terribly surprising.  There wasn’t a lot of speaking; most of the evening was filled by musical performances.  Su Tseng-chang was the only person to give a full-fledged speech.  He didn’t say much new, so I won’t bother to report on it.

Tonight I went to Yonghe to see Eric Chu.  Well, technically I think we were in Zhonghe.  The event was in the 823 Park, which is right on the border between the two cities.  The site was extremely small, but it was filled to capacity.  Since President Ma was coming, they established a security perimeter.  I think there were probably 1000 people inside the perimeter and 500 outside.  Again, I couldn’t see the whole crowd from one single angle, so this estimate is not very precise.

The crowd was equal to DPP crowds in its level of enthusiasm.  This is the first time I have seen that from a KMT crowd this year.  Also, I really like events held in Yonghe for one simple reason: everything is in Mandarin!

The speakers were really slamming Tsai for her divided attention.  As one speaker put it, she wants to be mayor, party chair, and run for president.  Chu spent several minutes stressing how important the first mayor of Xinbei will be in establishing all the precedents.  He concluded: a mayor has to focus all his attention on these problems, and he can’t afford to divide his attention.  It’s a good point; I think Chu could have made it much more forcefully.  At any rate, Wu Nai-ren 吳乃仁 didn’t do Su or Tsai any favors by suggesting that they could still run for president.

Ma Ying-jeou was the most interesting speaker tonight.  He spent about 80% of his speech talking about national issues.  First, he talked about the KMT’s record on economics.  He gave the economic growth stats again (GDP growth of 9.98%, unemployment rate of 4.92%), but he also talked about the KMT’s record in managing the economic crisis.  He was particularly proud of the fact that not one bank failed.  Next, he spoke about diplomacy, concentrating on the EU’s recent decision to allow Taiwanese enter without a visa.  Taiwanese can now visit 96 countries visa-free, and this is a big improvement over the Chen era.  Finally, he spoke about his record in national security.  Ma said that there are two powderkegs in East Asia: the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait.  The Korean Peninsula is as volatile as ever, as we have seen in the past few days.  However, Ma stressed that he has successfully lowered tensions across the Taiwan Strait so that a similar event is highly unlikely here.  (There were other points, but those are the three that I remember most clearly.)  He ended this by asking the crowd which political party had performed better.  “I can’t hear you.  Louder!!”

He eventually said a few things about Chu, but he never talked about local issues for Taipei County.  I was a bit surprised by this focus on national and party issues.  I’ve heard Ma speak several times this year, and he has never been so focused on national issues.  I’m really not sure why he shifted gears tonight or whether that will help or hurt Chu.  But it clearly is a different message.

The event ended at 8:20.  They had another event, but that is still quite early to end.

When a campaign thinks they are going to win, they give off a different vibe than when they think they are going to lose and are just putting on a brave act.  Right now, it looks to me like the Su, Tsai, and Chu camps all think they are going to win.  The Hau camp isn’t so sure, though I don’t think he thinks he is clearly going to lose.  But he doesn’t exude the confidence that the other three do right now.  (Don’t ask me to justify this feeling; it’s just a feeling I have.)

campaign trail: Chu rally in Zhonghe

November 22, 2010

On Saturday night, a friend and I went to a rally for Eric Chu in Zhonghe City.  We were a bit late because the traffic on the freeway was horribly backed up.  He joked that it was probably all the people going to the rally.  Of course, that would be ludicrous; no rally has that many people.  However, after our normal 30 minute trip took 90 minutes and all the other roads leading away from the rally were completely clear, it became apparent that it really was the rally.  I think they were unloading all their busses in the slow lane, so that the slow lane backed up to the freeway exit, which eventually backed up to Xindian.  Wow.

There were quite a few people at the rally.  The site was big enough for 12000-15000, but it wasn’t quite full.  There were large gaps of seats that were completely empty, while other blocks were completely full.  Well, that’s what happens when most of your crowd is mobilized.  Of course, mobilized people are still people, and there were a lot of them.  I estimated about 9000, give or take a thousand.  (My estimates tend to be a lot lower than most people’s.  This is because I count people rather than simply pick a big number out of the air.)  It wasn’t a bad crowd.  There was a reasonable amount of energy.  If the speaker was boring, the crowd wouldn’t pay much attention.  However, if the speaker got them involved, the crowd did respond.

Some of the speakers included legislators Wu Yu-sheng 吳育昇 and Hung Hsiu-chu 洪秀柱, county executive Chou Hsi-wei 周錫瑋, and party elder Wu Po-hsiung 吳伯雄.  After my description of Hung’s speech in the Da-an Park rally (which I did NOT, in fact, call the “garden of hatred”) made such a stir on the internet, I feel obliged to comment on her speech this time.  Huang repeated some of her speech about Chen Shui-bian, who she still refused to call by name.  She still said that they had felt dissatisfied 悶 while waiting for a court ruling on Chen’s cases.  However, this time she did not use the word “hate.”  I repeat, she did not use the word “hate.”  Actually, her whole speech had a lot less passion in it this time.  Maybe she decided to tone it down, but I think the most important thing is probably simply that another week has gone by.  Time moderates most passions.  The crowd in Da-an Park didn’t react too strongly, and this crowd had even less reaction.  I wouldn’t call it boredom, but perhaps it was mild interest.

The best speaker of the night was County Executive Chou Hsi-wei.  When they introduced him, he got a very warm reception.  You are reading correctly: the guy who was not popular enough to be re-nominated was the star of the night.  Chou launched into a passionate speech that really grabbed the crowd.  I think he got a little carried away by the moment and went a little overboard.  Near the end of his speech, he screamed “Down with the DPP” 打倒民進黨, a line that sounds like it comes from the Cultural Revolution.  But the crowd was with him, and he was probably letting off a year of pent up frustration.

Neither Chu nor Ma was at their best.  Ma inherited a riled-up crowd (from Chou) and proceeded to put them to sleep.  It was the KMT’s 116th birthday, and he talked for 5 minutes about the origins of the KMT.  He tried to sell us on the idea that the loss of Taiwan to the Japanese was instrumental in Sun Yat-sen’s dissatisfaction with the Qing court.  In other words, the KMT’s establishment was closely linked to Taiwan.  A) I don’t remember Taiwan being a critical factor in any of the accounts I’ve read, and B) this very dry topic sucked all the energy out of the crowd.  The rest of the rally wasn’t very memorable.

Overall, it was a reasonably good rally.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a disaster.  (This seems to be my judgment about everything associated with the Chu campaign.)


Partisan balance in Xinbei City

November 16, 2010

Last month, I spent two days interviewing people in Xinbei City while preparing to write a column for the United Daily News.  One of the themes I heard again and again from people on both sides is that the partisan balance basically favors the blue camp.  However, when you pressed people, they didn’t have a really clear idea of exactly how large the blue camp’s advantage is.  Perhaps the most common estimate is that it is now somewhat smaller than when Chou Hsi-wei 周錫瑋 won in 2005.


I wonder if we can do better than that.  (Spoiler alert: Not really.)


There are a couple of approaches to this kind of question.  One is to look at surveys, which give you an up to the minute snapshot of public opinion.  On the other hand, there are lots of problems with surveys.  For one, most of the sample sizes are too small to say anything about subsets of the data.  (So when you see a report about a survey claiming that one candidate is leading in areas A, B, and C while the other candidate is ahead in area D, feel free to laugh.  The sample size for each of these areas is almost always too small to get a useful estimate.)  The other approach, which I’m going to look at here, might be called the political map approach.  Basically, we look at old election results to get some idea of how this election might turn out.  This approach also has problems.  It assumes that this election will be like previous elections.  If there has been any realignment of political forces, old political maps might be completely irrelevant.  That said, let’s jump in.


There have been six county-wide single-seat elections since 1997, three county executive elections and three presidential elections.


KMT DPP blue green
2008 president 61.1 38.9 61.1 38.9
2005 executive 54.9 44.3 54.9 44.3
2004 president 53.1 46.9 53.1 46.9
2001 executive 48.2 51.3 48.2 51.3
2000 president 22.4 36.7 62.6 36.7
1997 executive 38.7 40.7 54.3 40.7
average 46.4 43.1 55.7 43.1
standard deviation 13.9 5.4 5.4 5.4


As you can see, the 2005 county executive race was a fairly typical result, with the blue camp winning by about 10%.  The only time the DPP cracked 50% was in Su Tseng-chang’s 蘇貞昌 re-election campaign in 2001.  The KMT’s best performance was in the 2008 presidential election, when it broke 60%.

Suppose we assume that the cumulative effect of the Tsai 蔡英文 and Chu 朱立倫 campaigns is that Tsai is one standard deviation above normal.  In other words, if you simulated the election an infinite number of times, Tsai (Chu) would be better (worse) than about 83% of the DPP (KMT) candidates.  To put it another way, we are assuming that Tsai is a really strong DPP candidate, though perhaps not quite a spectacular one.  In this case, the result would be 50.3 to 48.6 in favor of Chu.

If that doesn’t convince you that Tsai is fighting an uphill battle, let’s look at things from the township level.  The following are DPP votes:


    08P 04P 00P 05M 01M 97M ave s.d.
  overall 38.9 46.9 36.7 44.3 51.3 40.7 43.1 5.4
板橋市 Banqiao 42.0% 50.5% 40.2% 47.4% 54.5% 45.1% 46.6% 5.4%
三重市 Sanchong 47.0% 55.8% 44.4% 53.4% 60.5% 49.3% 51.7% 5.9%
新莊市 Xinzhuang 43.4% 52.7% 33.9% 50.1% 57.7% 47.1% 47.5% 8.2%
蘆洲市 Luzhou 47.2% 55.8% 39.2% 53.0% 60.8% 50.3% 51.0% 7.4%
中和市 Zhonghe 32.2% 38.7% 30.4% 36.7% 42.0% 34.1% 35.7% 4.3%
永和市 Yonghe 27.9% 34.2% 27.3% 31.8% 37.0% 30.6% 31.4% 3.7%
新店市 Xindian 27.7% 33.7% 41.6% 30.9% 35.8% 29.8% 33.2% 5.0%
樹林市 Shulin 42.8% 52.1% 39.7% 49.1% 56.9% 48.6% 48.2% 6.2%
鶯歌鎮 Yingge 42.2% 51.9% 51.9% 48.4% 59.8% 44.9% 49.8% 6.2%
三峽鎮 Sanxia 40.7% 49.8% 38.0% 45.5% 56.5% 42.7% 45.5% 6.7%
土城市 Tucheng 39.5% 47.6% 37.4% 44.6% 51.3% 44.7% 44.2% 5.1%
淡水鎮 Danshui 37.3% 46.1% 35.5% 43.2% 54.1% 32.5% 41.4% 8.0%
五股鄉 Wugu 44.2% 51.7% 39.8% 49.4% 57.2% 37.1% 46.6% 7.6%
泰山鄉 Taishan 40.5% 49.9% 37.5% 47.0% 54.6% 40.0% 44.9% 6.7%
林口鄉 Linkou 39.0% 48.1% 36.1% 45.5% 56.4% 42.3% 44.6% 7.2%
八里鄉 Bali 40.0% 48.1% 35.4% 46.3% 54.3% 38.7% 43.8% 7.0%
汐止市 Xizhi 35.4% 42.9% 34.3% 40.2% 44.1% 25.5% 37.1% 6.9%
瑞芳鎮 Ruifang 36.4% 45.1% 32.8% 41.9% 52.2% 40.4% 41.5% 6.8%
深坑鄉 Shenkeng 37.6% 44.3% 27.1% 43.0% 48.1% 37.9% 39.7% 7.3%
石碇鄉 Shiding 52.8% 58.9% 44.8% 56.1% 65.5% 47.3% 54.2% 7.6%
坪林鄉 Pinglin 58.6% 64.4% 50.8% 60.6% 77.4% 55.1% 61.1% 9.2%
平溪鄉 Pingxi 46.6% 53.1% 41.6% 49.0% 64.1% 41.0% 49.2% 8.6%
雙溪鄉 Shuangxi 42.6% 50.2% 43.9% 46.5% 56.6% 45.2% 47.5% 5.2%
貢寮鄉 Gongliao 55.0% 61.6% 31.8% 55.9% 64.6% 58.8% 54.6% 11.7%
烏來鄉 Wulai 31.0% 37.1% 51.9% 34.9% 52.4% 32.4% 39.9% 9.7%
三芝鄉 Sanzhi 34.5% 44.3% 24.5% 41.2% 61.4% 21.5% 37.9% 14.6%
石門鄉 Shimen 35.5% 43.3% 29.8% 40.8% 59.6% 31.1% 40.0% 10.9%
金山鄉 Jinshan 41.0% 50.2% 38.1% 44.1% 60.6% 42.2% 46.0% 8.2%
萬里鄉 Wanli 38.5% 45.3% 40.5% 40.8% 54.7% 36.8% 42.7% 6.5%


A good place to start is with the biggest city, Banqiao.  Historically, Banqiao has been a pretty good bellwether for Taipei County.  If you win in Banqiao, you’ll probably win the whole race.  In these recent years, it seems to favor the DPP slightly more than the rest of the county, so if Tsai is going to win, she probably needs to win Banqiao by at least 5%.  I don’t know why, but getting 53% in Banqiao seems more daunting to me than winning the whole county.

I sorted the townships in this order for a specific reason.  You can think of these as distinct clumps.  The weights are based on the number of eligible voters in the 2008 presidential election.  So, for example, Banqiao had 14.5% of the eligible voters in Taipei County in that election.

The averages and standard deviations are simple averages from the table above; they are not weighted for the size of the township.  This makes them a little wrong, but hopefully not by too much.


clump Includes weight Ave. S.D.
1 Banqiao 14.5 46.6 5.4
2 Sanchong, Xinzhuang, Luzhou 25.1 50.1 7.2
3 Zhonghe, Yonghe, Xindian 25.6 33.5 4.3
4 Shulin, Yingge, Sanxia, Tucheng 14.8 46.9 6.1
5 Danshui, Wugu, Linkou, Taishan, Bali 9.9 44.2 7.3
6 Xizhi 4.9 39.4 7.0
7 Ruifang, Shenkeng, Shiding, Pinglin, Pingxi, Shuangxi, Gongliao, Wulai 3.2 48.5 8.3
8 Sanzhi, Shimen, Jinshan, Wanli 2.1 41.7 10.0


Let’s start from group 3.  This group of townships south of Taipei City is the DPP’s worst area.  Moreover, it has the smallest standard deviation.  The DPP has never had the odd candidate who was able to win large numbers of votes in these three townships.  The game here is for the DPP to lose by as little as possible, except that they don’t seem to ever be able to increase their vote here by very much.  If Tsai can get anywhere near 40% in these townships, it will be a triumph for her.  35% probably won’t be enough.  One way to think about the election is that Chu will take a big lead in these areas, and Tsai will have to make up that deficit everywhere else.

She has to try to offset most of her losses from group 3 in group 2, which is the DPP’s best area.   Group 2, which has another quarter of the electorate, is just north of the Dahan River and west of the Danshui River.  These areas have a pretty large standard deviation, indicating that there are a lot of swing voters.  Tsai has to win close to 60% here; 55% probably won’t be enough.

This makes groups 1 and 4 the decisive battlegrounds.  Whatever Tsai can’t make up in group 2, she has to win in these two.  Groups 1 and 4 are west of Taipei City and to the south of the Dahan River.  Banqiao experienced fast population growth in the 1980s and 1990s and is now basically saturated.  The townships in group 4 are a little further out and are currently growing quickly.  While historically these lean a little blue, Tsai would have to win them by about 53% or so to have a chance at winning the whole election.

Areas 7 and 8 are perhaps the most interesting.  These townships, which only comprise about 5% of the total electorate, are the most rural parts of Taipei County.  Area 7 includes the mountainous areas to the southeast of Taipei City which used to have a coal mining industry and still grows lots of tea.  Area 8 includes the northern coast.  These townships have the highest standard deviations in the county.  Sometimes they swing heavily to one side, and sometimes they lurch violently the other way.

I have a notion that this is probably generalizable to the rest of Taiwan.  I am guessing that rural areas have larger swings.  I think this has something to do with more clearly defined party politics in more urban areas, perhaps because rural people have stronger party identification or perhaps because personal connections (which often work against party politics) are easier to build in rural areas.

Populations with strong party IDs might confuse this trend.  The most obvious groups is mainlanders, who tend to have stronger negative party ID toward the DPP than the population at large.  So groups 1, 2, and 3 are roughly at the same level of urbanization.  In terms of mainlanders, 3>1>2.  Not coincidentally, the standard deviations are 2<1<3.

At any rate, some of Su Tseng-chang’s in 2001 most impressive results were in small townships.  Of course, he had spent four years building those ties.  Even if Tsai were to match Su’s results everywhere else in Taipei County, she almost certainly will not be able to match his performance in these two groups.  In a very close race, this might be the difference.


So let’s sum up.  The DPP historically gets about 43% in Taipei County, and a swing of more than 5% is relatively difficult.  Moreover, we’re pretty sure that Tsai hasn’t built up the sorts of local ties that are helpful in winning over some parts of the electorate.  In short, you have to make some very optimistic assumptions in order to conclude that she is likely to win.

That doesn’t mean that she can’t win.  If you did this analysis in Taipei City, you would conclude that there is absolutely no way for Su to win.  Polls are currently telling a different story.  In 1997, I stared at these political maps and concluded there was no way the DPP could produce winning campaigns around Taiwan.  Then they did.  The 1997 numbers looked entirely different from everything that had come before them, but they materialized all the same.  The point is simply that history says it is more likely that the KMT will win this election.  Since the polls are not telling an unambiguously different story, it’s probably wise to err on the side of history.


from the campaign trail: a small event for Chu

November 8, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, we walked from our apartment in Nangang across the little river to Xizhi to see a campaign event for Eric Chu.  The event was billed as an “evening rally” even though it ran from about 4:00 to 5:00.

There were probably 300 to 400 people at the event.  It didn’t look to me like the crowd was mobilized, though perhaps a fourth of them were working for one of the campaigns.  In addition to Chu’s campaign, two of the four KMT city council candidates showed up, and a third was represented by his wife.  I would assume that the fourth, Huang Jianqing 黃建清, is incompetent, but he is the incumbent mayor.  So I guess I’ll assume that he is overconfident.

There was a lot of fluff to the event.  One city council candidate would speak for a few minutes, and then they had a celebrity sing a song or two.  Both the hosts were (minor) celebrities, rather than the (minor) politicians you usually see in that role at DPP rallies.  This is not unusual.  The KMT has a very different rally culture from the DPP.  I think this must go back to the martial law era.  Opposition rallies were exciting, fun, and potentially dangerous.  You might see violence, and at the very least you got to hear someone daring to call the government nasty names.  KMT rallies must have been a lot less interesting.  During the democratic transition, the KMT often had to mobilize a crowd with free food and travel money or they simply wouldn’t have an audience.  To keep these crowds awake, they had to put on a show.  Fortuitously, most of the entertainment world is in the KMT camp, so they had a nice pool of celebrities to draw on.

Probably for a similar reason, there aren’t quite as many young men chewing betelnut and smoking cigarettes at KMT rallies.  (You know the type I’m talking about: the type that allowed the KMT to paint the DPP as a party full of thugs and always ready to turn any march violent.)  Young men looking for excitement would not have gone to KMT rallies.

But I digress.

Eric Chu is a pretty low key guy, as far as politicians go.  He showed up, we had a few “dong suan” cheers, and he spoke for about ten minutes.  His main message was that he wanted to work for the people.  If he had wanted to make money, he would have gone to Wall Street after college.  If he had wanted to be a famous professor (is there such a thing??), he would have stayed at National Taiwan University where he was already a full professor over a decade ago.  If he had wanted to be a powerful official, he would have stayed in his post as Vice-Premier.  But he wanted to serve the people, so he is running for mayor.  And this is an important election, being the first Xinbei City mayoral election.  So it’s important to vote for him.

I would note that he didn’t really mention much concrete that he wants to do.  The only thing he said was something very local.  Since this neighborhood is right next to Taipei City, he had convinced Mayor Hau to promise that Xizhi residents would be able to use Nangang facilities, such as the sports center.  If I put on my sarcastic hat, I would rephrase this as, “if I am elected, Mayor Hau will work for you.”

Actually, the most policy oriented speech came from the local legislator, Lee Ching-hua 李慶華, who spoke for 10-15 minutes on things such as building a new on and off ramp to the freeway and closing down a dangerous factory in the neighborhood.  This was unexpected.  Every time I’ve seen Lee speak before (and we’re not just talking about once or twice), he played the role of the clown.  Lee previously belonged to both the New Party and PFP, and he specialized in zingers about Lee Teng-hui.  In other words, he was the guy who threw red meat to the lions.  So it was strange to see him as the serious policy guy.  To be fair, he was reading from a piece of paper, and it seemed that he didn’t know these policy points very well.

Chu ended the rally before 5:00, mentioning that he still had five more events to go to.  (This was his tenth event of the day.)  He walked out into the crowd, shook everyone’s hands, gave a quick TV interview, and left.  As we left, a magician had taken the stage and was doing tricks with ropes to entertain the rapidly diminishing crowd.

All in all, I would say it wasn’t a bad event, though I wasn’t overwhelmed either.