TVBS has released its latest popularity polling data, giving us a bit of insight into how the national and local governments’ pandemic responses and the recent referendum have affected the support for major political figures in Taiwan. (If you can read Mandarin you can click through the link and see all the data, if not I have translated the main information from this year’s poll at the bottom of the article)

The data was published on the 13th of January. The poll was done via telephone, both landlines and cellphones, and took data from 1000 Taiwanese adults over the age of 20. It should also be kept in mind that the data had a margin of error of +/-3.1.

New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) came out on top of the poll with 70 percent favorability. He was followed by Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in 57 and 48 percent favorability ratings respectively. These three have been closely involved in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Taiwan. 

Since polling last year, Ko was the only official of the top three spots to increase their popularity, his went up 6 points. Chen lost 9 points and Hou lost 4. Of course for Chen this polling comes at a particularly inopportune time, being that there have been recent clusters of the Omicron variant in northern Taiwan.

For his part, Ko may have actually benefitted from the pandemic and his constant clashes with the central government over their handling of the pandemic. Though Hou has also come forward with criticisms of certain policies, such as the 7+7 quarantine strategy.

Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), came in 7th place with 41 percent reporting they are satisfied with her performance. This is the same as she received the previous year. However, her unfavorable numbers jumped up 7 points, from 33 to 40, putting her just 1 point above water.

Another member of the Executive Yuan on the list is premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌). Su came in 9th place on the list and is 6 points in the negative with only 39 percent of respondents rating his job as satisfactory. 

Following Su is current vice president William Lai (賴清德). Lai scored one point below Su, but also has much lower unfavourability numbers, with only 30 percent saying they were unsatisfied. On the other side of the aisle two major politicians are not faring so well.

Former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) dropped 5 percent in favorability down to 26 percent to put him at number 12 in the lineup. his favorability is sitting at 46 putting him well in the unfavorable camp. In fact, only one politician placed worse than Ma.

Current KMT chairman, Eric Chu (朱立倫) was dead last at number 13 in the poll. He scored only 21 percent in the satisfied category, with a massive 61 percent of respondents saying they were disappointed with his performance. This is likely due in large part to the KMT’s abject failure in the recent referendums. 

These numbers will almost certainly shift greatly before the next presidential election. The direction in which the numbers shift are likely to depend largely on how the pandemic plays out in Taiwan. If policies that positively impact working people are passed under the Tsai administration or relationships with other nations continue to blossom, this too could have a big impact on how these numbers change.