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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Statistics on Taiwan's Independence or Unification opinion polls - Part 1

I did some brief study of the statistics published by the Global View Magazine, the ones commissioned by the "Mainland" Affairs Council (MAC), and the one from the Taiwan Thinktank.
The following abbreviations are used throughout this post to simplify typing and save space:
SD: Maintaining the status-quo now and decide later
SF: Maintaining the status-quo forever
SI: Maintaining the status-quo now and independent later
SU: Maintaining the status-quo now and unification later
II: Independent immediately or as soon as possible
UI: Unification immediately or as soon as possible
NA: No answer or don't know
The time the poll was taken will be denoted with MM/YYYY


First, I will table the one from the Taiwan Thinktank because there was only one, so it is simple to be tabled, and I hope we can see another more recent poll from this organization before the end of this year. 
The Taiwan Thinktank opinion poll taken from 08/2007 to 09/2007:
SD 44.9%, SF 11%, SI 14.8%, SU 5.1%, II 15%, UI 1.9%, NA 7.3%
The good thing about this poll is that it accounted for all and the total percentage did add up to 100%.

Second, I will table the ones from the MAC from 2007 onwards, for English-only speaking readers, the line chart can be obtained by going to the MAC link, then click "opinion post" on the left of the page, then choose the "2009" year, click "statistics chart", I chose the "line chart" to study because it gave us an overall presentation over a number of years.

The MAC polls results (in %, but I omit writing the % sign below)


  08/2007 12/2007 03/2008 08/2008 10/2008 12/2008 04/2009 09/2009
SD   34.9     44.9     43.5     34.4      36.2     40.9      35.0       35.4
SF   17.9     20.6     20.0     22.4       25.5     25.5     27.0       28.0
SI    16.5     11.8     17.1     17.5      12.5      16.4      15.1      14.9
SU  12.2      9.2      10.5      8.3       4.4         9.0        7.6        8.7
II      10.3      7.3       6.0       8.6      14.8        6.0       6.7        5.0
UI     2.2       3.2       1.7       1.5       1.8         2.0       1.2        1.7
TT    94.0    97.0    98.8      92.7      95.2      99.8      92.6      93.7


My immediate observation is:
The NCCU 國立政治大學,which conducted the 08/2007, 08/2008, 04/2009, and 09/2009 polls on behalf of the MAC has always displayed the lower total percentage of overall responding answers (94.0, 92.7, 92.6, 93.7), lower than the other two companies.  Since, the no answer or don't know category is not listed here, it is quite reasonable for the total percentage to be lower than 95%, the other polls seem unreasonably high on the total percentage.  The Taiwan Thinktank has 7.3% of participants either don't know or no answer.


Next, the different opinion polls conducted by different organizations / companies plus the dates when some events / news may have affected people to choose their categories differently, so I take an average for each category per year.


2007
SD (34.9+44.9)/2 = 39.9
SF (17.9+20.6)/2 = 19.25
SI (16.5+11.8)/2 = 14.15
SU (12.2+ 9.2)/2 = 10.7
II (10.3+7.3)/ 2 = 8.8
UI (2.2+3.2)/2 = 2.7


2008
SD (43.5+34.4+36.2+40.9)/4 = 38.75
SF (20+22.4+25.5+25.5)/4 = 23.35
SI (17.1+17.5+12.5+16.4)/4 = 15.875
SU (10.5+8.3+4.4+9)/4 = 8.05
II (6+8.6+14.8+6)/4 = 8.85
UI (1.7+1.5+1.8+2.0)/4 = 1.75


2009
SD (35+35.4)/2 = 35.2
SF (27+28)/2 = 27.5
SI (15.1+14.9)/2 = 15
SU (7.6+8.7)/2 = 8.15
II (6.7+5)/2 = 5.85
UI (1.2+1.7)/2 = 1.45


An overall yearly comparison table is the following


            2007        2008        2009
SD       39.9        38.75        35.2
SF      19.25       23.35        27.5
SI        14.15      15.875       15
SU       10.7         8.05         8.15
II            8.8          8.85        5.85
UI          2.7          1.75        1.45


And I have reached some conclusions which were left at A-Gu's blog post, and is repeated (with slight additions) here:

I have compared the Global View Magazine polls with the ones commissioned by the "Mainland" Affairs Council's chart (thru NCC University, or other private companies).  MAC's results as I calculated the average for each year from 2007 (2 polls), to 2008 (4 polls), and to 2009 (2 polls so far), there is no increase on immediate unification, I only observe a slight drop, it never exceeds the 3% in recent years, from 2007 average at 2.7%, 2008 average  at 1.75%, and 2009 average at 1.45%.  So, the 4% here by the Global View Magazine is questionably high.  Only 3 times out of 28, this figure had ever exceeded 3% in the MAC line chart, but recently it has stayed stably below 2%.
There is also a slight drop on the status quo now & unification later, with the average from 2007 to 2009 respectively at:
10.7%, 8.05%, 8.15%.

Maintaining the status quo forever actually is the biggest change, the average from 2007 to 2009 respectively at:
19.25%, 23.35%, 27.5%.

The status quo forever could mean refusing to be part of China, therefotre wanting to be the way it is now forever if not being able to become independent.  Otherwise, the people who want to be part of China later would have chosen the maintaining the status quo and unification later category.

The maintaining the status quo and decide later also has a slight loss, the average from
2007 to 2009 respectively:
39.9%, 38.75%, 35.2%.

The drop here didn't go to those people who support unification (either immediately or later because just above we found out that both categories slightly dropped), so it has contributed to the gain in the status quo forever category.

The significant increase (19.25% to 27.5%) in the category of "maintaining the status quo forever" can be interpreted as people who would rather stay as citizens of an unrecognized (or should we say few recognized) nation if not being able to become independent (due to threats from China or pressure from the US), but would never want to become citizens of the People's Republic of China.

Or in Chinese: 寧可當不被承認的國家之國民也不願當中華人民共和國之國民

Also, I wonder if the more exchange, co-op, engagement between Taiwan's mainlanders with the Chinese, the more mainlanders or pan-blue people are afraid of going back to embrace their "motherland"?

I have observed some interesting statistics from the Global View Magazine, but don't have time to write it up now, the total percentage of all categories for the 05/2009 is 90.1%, and 09/2009 is 89.3%. More detailed observations will be posted when I have time.



Reference:
2009 10 遠見雜誌民意調查結果

3 comments:

Ben Goren said...

Excellent analysis and number crunching. The figures seem to indicate Taiwanese cautious about the future and not wishing to rush into a decision about Taiwan any time soon. However, the next larges group in sentiment are those who wish to be independent, either now or in the future and certainly not those who seek unification. The trick is, how to get people to be aware of the differences between these figures and the Government's policies ...

Άλισον said...

I can conclude that the Ma administration is swiftly but quietly pushing Taiwan, through its economic policy, towards the 2% minority that want to be unified with China ASAP.

There is a warning sign here that many Taiwanese, still believing that there is a choice called status-quo, are too insensitive to the tilted status-quo. The status-quo of yesterday is not the same as the status-quo of today.

The next time when an opinion poll is to be conducted, the question of SD should be removed and let people choose only among the SF, SI, SU, II, UI; and then the same set of sample also be asked to choose among the SI,SU,II,UI with SF removed; and again the same set of sample be asked to choose only among the I or U to get a better picture of the trend because after all no one can stay as a citizen of an unrecognized nation forever.

Richard said...

I sort of agree with the above comment about removing SD and SF- because it's not rational to think that Taiwan can maintain a "decide later" permanently, neither can it maintain "status-quo" forever. Even when we say maintain status-quo, the Ma administration claims it has been maintaining status-quo, but he's obviously moving Taiwan closer to China in a break from status-quo.

Also, I saw someone mention this somewhere on one of the many Taiwan blogs, that eventually if the cross-strait exchanges continue as they are, with an influx of Chinese coming to Taiwan, it may ultimately tilt the voting power of the pan-blue side to a position of majority. That is something that we should be aware of.

Thanks for the statistics by the way, they only continue to affirm that an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese do not want to unify with China, ever. I think a different approach towards these polls would be to poll those between the ages of 18-28, who have come out of Taiwan without really knowing the era of the KMT martial law. I know most of my friends in that age are pro-Taiwan, but at the same time, do not see that Ma Ying-jeou is favoring a move towards unification with China. Especially when they think that it will just mean more money, with no effect on Taiwan's political status.

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