Let’s start with the polls. Several people have written to say “Looks like those biased polls were right.” ESWN has a post on it up on his widely read blog, so let’s take a look at his data. ESWN observed:


But what were the public opinion polls saying? The following table is compiled from the list of polls conducted by TVBS one to three months before the elections. The entries show the percentages for the KMT candidate versus the DPP candidate; the green entries are those in which the DPP candidate is ahead. Before the actual election results in, poll results such as these are contemptuously dismissed as “pan-blue” polls.

District TVBS Poll Actual Result
Taipei City 1 57% vs. 26% 60% vs. 39%
Taipei City 2 51% vs. 27% 52% vs. 46%
Taipei City 3 51% vs. 25% 60% vs. 38%
Taipei City 4 50% vs. 27% 62% vs. 35%
Taipei City 5 44% vs. 26% 58% vs. 41%
Taipei City 6 59% vs. 24% 67% vs. 32%
Taipei City 7 60% vs. 19% 66% vs. 32%
Taipei City 8 55% vs. 19% 72% vs. 26%
Taipei County 1 49% vs. 21% 58% vs. 40%
Taipei County 2 31% vs. 24% 40% vs. 43%
Taipei County 3 47% vs. 29% 48% vs. 50%
Taipei County 4 46% vs. 30% 52% vs. 47%
Taipei County 5 45% vs. 33% 52% vs. 47%
Taipei County 6 51% vs. 28% 57% vs. 43%
Taipei County 7 51% vs. 24% 56% vs. 42%
Taipei County 8 47% vs. 31% 60% vs. 40%
Taipei County 10 52% vs. 23% 60% vs. 39%
Taipei County 12 45% vs. 17% 52% vs. 38%
Chiayi County 1 35% vs. 34% 58% vs. 42%
Chiayi County 2 26% vs. 41% 42% vs. 57%
Kaohsiung City 1 53% vs. 25% 58% vs. 41%
Kaohsiung City 2 43% vs. 33% 49% vs. 51%
Kaohsiung City 3 44% vs. 28% 49% vs. 43%
Kaohsiung City 4 43% vs. 29% 51% vs. 47%
Kaohsiung City 5 32% vs. 40% 46% vs. 52%
Tainan City 1 47% vs. 30% 50% vs. 50%
Tainan City 2 40% vs. 38% 48% vs. 50%
Tainan County 1 31% vs. 36% 45% vs. 55%
Tainan County 2 25% vs. 42% 41% vs. 59%
Tainan County 3 32% vs. 37% 47% vs. 53%

The problem with the pro-Blue polls like TVBS (100% owned by Hong Kong Chinese) is not that they are right or wrong in hindsight, it is that they cannot be trusted beforehand because they are pro-Blue and consistently underestimate Green votes. You only have to scan the list and look at the Green column for TVBS poll results and actual results. In almost every case, the poll underestimates the Green vote by 25-50%, sometimes even more. In Taipei county districts 4-12, for example, TVBS had:

Green vote:
District 4 projected: 30 actual: 47 disparity: 56%
District 5 projected: 33 actual: 47 disparity: 42%
District 6 projected: 28 actual: 43 disparity: 53%
District 7 projected: 24 actual: 42 disparity: 75%
etc.

The phenomenon of pro-Blue polls underestimating Green votes is well known here, and as you can see, TVBS sometimes errs by 50% in its estimates. Such polls are useless, except as propaganda tools — which is why they exist, and why they can’t be trusted.

Was it possible to predict this debacle? Yes, but not from looking at polling data in the Blue papers, which was worthless. Indeed, numerous ominous rumblings reached my ears last week, but I discounted them for the same reason that I discount polls from the Dark Side: the Green voters conceal their plans, as ESWN’s data so eloquently shows. Perhaps the KMT and DPP internal polls showed something, but they weren’t releasing their data. Nevertheless, there were people out there who foresaw disaster, though as far as I know, nobody picked the KMT to get over 80 seats.

Let’s now look at the numbers from the last several legislative elections. I gathered them up last year for a post on US State Department official Tom Christensen’s erroneous belief that the US kept the DPP from doing as well as expected in the Legislative elections in ‘04. Here are the figures:

2001
Blue Parties, total votes
KMT 2,949,371
PFP 1,917,836
New 269,620

Total Blue vote: 5,136,827

2001
Green parties total votes
DPP 3,447,740
TSU 801,560

Total Green Vote: 4,249,030
Total turnout (66%)

++++++++++++

2004
Blue Parties total votes
KMT 3,190,081
PFP 1,350,613
New 12,137

Total Blue Vote: 4,552,831

2004 Green parties total votes
DPP 3,471,429
TSU 756,712

Total Green votes: 4,228,141
(Total turnout 59%)

2001 Blue vote: 5,136,827
2004 Blue vote: 4,552,831

2001 Green vote: 4,249,030
2004 Green vote: 4,228,141

2001-2004 difference
Blue: - 583,996
Green: - 20,889

In other words, in ‘04 the DPP did well because Blue voters stayed home. The ‘08 totals are up on the CEC website:

Major parties, 2007 LY election, total votes (election held 1-12-08)

2008
KMT 5,010,801
DPP 3,610,106

Let’s see that another way:

2001 Blue vote: 5,136,827
2004 Blue vote: 4,552,831
2008 Blue vote 5,010,801 (+ 0.38 million New Party) ~5.4 million

In other words, the Blues manage to raise their votes back to their 1998 levels of 5.3 million — the most Blue votes in an LY election in a decade. Meanwhile, what about the DPP and the Greens?

2001 Green vote: 4,249,030
2004 Green vote: 4,228,141
2008 Green vote 3,610,106 (+.35 million TSU) ~4.0 million

There’s going to be lots of temptation to criticize the DPP. What were the DPP’s vote totals?

2001 DPP 3,447,740
2004 DPP 3,471,429
2008 DPP 3,610,106

Yes, you’re not going blind. The DPP actually raised its vote total by 140,000 votes over 2004, despite the barrage of negative campaigning. Where did the Greens lose out? TSU votes plummeted, from 756,000 votes in 2004 to just 344,000 in 2008.

The short answer to today’s election loss is really quite simple — the KMT was effective in getting out absolutely everyone who would vote for it. The long answer is one I’ll have up in a couple of days, when I digest what’s being written and said about this disaster for Taiwan and its future.

UPDATE: the number I am using is the number for party ballots. Voters cast two ballots in this election, one for the candidate and one for the party. The party ballot figure is lower, so I figured it is more conservative. I haven’t seen constituent numbers yet.