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Pre-election polls prove less than accurate

The 2012 presidential election campaign provided a venue for a wide variety of polling, yet the outcome remained anyone's guess until the end.

In the end, President Ma Ying-jeou squeaked to victory with 6.89 million votes. He managed to meet, or even surpass, expectations with majority support of 51.5 percent. His main challenger, the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen, finished second at 45.7 percent. Most pleasing to Ma may have been the relatively weak third-place showing of James Soong.

The final estimates of the pre-election polls, the bread and butter of the polling industry, were suggesting it would be a close race, with no clear winning candidate.

The 2012 presidential election produced a near 800,000 popular vote victory for Ma, over a million votes less than his 2008 victory. Most of the poll estimates were within the range of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The final numbers released by a TVBS poll 10 days before the election showed Ma ahead by 3 percent — the largest margin in any of the pre-election polls. TVBS produced a final unreleased estimate on Friday, Jan. 13, projecting Ma to lead Tsai by 43 to 35 percent.

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