||Researchers of partisan voters have been assuming that there is a solid difference between “independent”voters and partisan voters (including leaners). This is hardly a case in the Taiwan context, a democracy of two-party presidential system, where over 40 percent of voters are partisans but claiming independent in most of telephone surveys. Pollsters, researchers, and journalists have been calculating the distribution of party supporters by either omitting these “independent” voters due to the unavailability of the data, or simply apply counterintuitive formula to guess the distribution of the respondents with missing data. This study takes avoid the definition of not-so-well-defined “independent” voters but aiming at these“invisible” or “closet” voters and at finding out their partisan orientation behind their ambivalent answers to telephone surveys. |
To do so I took a series of steps, including qualitative and quantitative ones. First I used a representative sample, conducted in January 2014 (N=1,072) in Taiwan via a RDD telephone survey. This survey includes the conventional party identification question plus a serious of theory-based alternative questions that I evaluated to be triggering respondents’ mobilized reasoning about the two major political parties, Kuomingtang (KMT) or Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). I then created an index for partisan respondents of the two political camps, and applied the score patterns to the closet respondents. In another follow up survey (March 2014) that targeted at the closet respondents I found that the correctness of prediction using the index is about 70%. I then targeted and interviewed the most ambivalent closet voters and explored how their partisan mobilized reasoning was (and failed to be) triggered by the alternative survey questions. I concluded with a few survey questions future electoral studies can use for probing closet voters. The rich implications of the findings for improving the accuracy of predicting partisan votes, the debates about the characteristics of independent voters, and the development of partisan mobilized.