It’s as if John Kerry were leading John McCain by 30% in the polls in the 2008 election. Or as if Mitt Romney were leading Hillary Clinton by 30% in the polls in the 2016 election.
(I use Kerry and Romney as examples because they were challengers who lost to incumbent presidents.)
Tsai Ing-Wen, who is poised to become Taiwan’s first female president, lost narrowly to incumbent president Ma Ying-Jieo in 2012. Tsai is from the “green” party, the DPP, that favors eventual independence for Taiwan from China. Ma is from the “blue” party, the KMT, that favors eventual unification of Taiwan with China.
President Ma was elected in a landslide over a green DPP opponent in 2008, but has gradually become tremendously unpopular in the years since, with approval ratings now below 20%. Tsai, meanwhile, has soared out to an enormous lead over her KMT foes - by as much as 30 percent or more - and is running away with the election.
This is completely new territory for the DPP.
The green DPP has been the underdog in Taiwanese politics for nearly its entire existence. It has almost always been overshadowed by the blue KMT. The DPP did win two presidential elections in the 2000s, but those were by very narrow margins. Furthermore, the DPP has never had a majority in Taiwan’s legislature. Now, not only is the DPP poised to win the presidency by a massive margin, it is also favored to make off with a solid majority in the legislature for the first time in its history.
Why? Because anti-China sentiment has been spiking in Taiwan and the younger generation is firmly pro-DPP. It’s become a generational divide. The older generation favors the blue KMT and the younger generation favors the green DPP. The Blues are poised to suffer massive defeat in 2016 and they could be finished for good, consigned to minority party status, if they can’t turn things around in the next decade. (Which, IMHO, they could do simply by abandoning support for Taiwanese unification with China and wait for the DPP to run into its share of difficulties as a reigning presidential administration.)