"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Taiwan legislative election 2008 -- yet another look at the numbers

Trying to explain the inexplicable and fathom the unfathomable

Michael Turton had a long letter to the editor published in Sunday's Taipei Times about the oft-misguided "analysis" of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the aftermath of the January 12, 2008 election. His second paragraph particularly caught my eye:
To understand what actually happened on Jan. 12, it is necessary to first grasp some simple numbers. In the 1998 legislative elections, the total pan-blue vote exceeded 5.3 million votes. In 2001 it again exceeded 5 million. In 2004, 600,000 pan-blue voters stayed home and the pan-blue vote total plummeted to 4.5 million. This year, it once again exceeded 5.0 million. Similar figures for the DPP were 2.9 million, 3.4 million, 3.4 million and 3.6 million respectively.
Perhaps a tabular view of those figures -- with the change in the number of votes between December 1998 and January 2008 appended to the bottom (*Michael's corrected 2008 figures of 3,765,222 for the DPP and 5,209,237 for the pan-blues are reflected below) -- would be helpful:

19985.3 million2.9 million
20015.0 million3.4 million
20044.3 million3.4 million
20085.209 million*3.765 million*
Change in number of votes over 9 years  - 90,763  +865,000

Spot the (arithmetical) difference
As you can see, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and their allies -- AKA the "pan-blues" (now all rolled into one semi-solid ball) -- lost over 90,000 votes over the 9-year period, while the DPP picked up 865,000 in the same period.

Now tell me, what sort of trend does that look like to you? What I see is that as more people come out to vote, the number of KMT votes declines, but the DPP votes increase steadily. Doesn't the distribution of seats as a result of this legislative election somehow differ vastly from that trend? Does this really look as though voters were "disappointed" with the DPP?

* Go back and read what I wrote in 2005 about how incomprehensible the new system was going to be and about not deciding where to put the goalposts until after the game is well underway. I still think it's incomprehensible.

* Last Tuesday, Michael Turton posted what he called "One Last Election Analysis." ("Last"? Who's he kidding? I'm sure there will be more!) The content is from Shelley Rigger via the Nelson Report. Michael adds his own observations.

* Read the rest of Michael Turton's letter to the editor for lots more juicy analysis.

* See another of Michael's "last look[s]" from this past Sunday for another detailed analysis with links to the Central Election Commission where he got the numbers.

* Read Jerome F. Keating's piece from 2004, "Taiwan's Missing Millions," also available as a PDF.

Math(s)ema(n)tics: , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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