What can you expect from tomorrow’s poll result?
What would be the indicator?
Make no mistake. It is not so much the absolute size of the winning margin (13,338 for Wan Azizah on March 8) as many people (including myself in media interviews or writings earlier) have suggested.
Absolute size of the winning margin is not telling because it is affected by the turnout.
It’s the relative size of the margin. On March 8, PKR won 64.16% of total valid votes, beating BN which took 35.84% by a margin of 28.31%.
Here’s my “score guide”.
If tomorrow Anwar enjoys >60% support but short of Kak Wan’s record, then he merely maintains his support. PASS. UMNO leaders will feel very relieved.
If he wins but gets below that, NEAR PASS. UMNO leaders can celebrate.
If he exceeds 64% but short of 70%, DISTINCTION. Pressure mounts on Abdullah and Najib.
Anything beyond 70%, HIGH DISTINCTION. UMNO parliamentarians start jumping.
But there can be more than one scenario that spells disasters for UMNO.
In Malaysia, the BN and the opposition are commonly estimated to enjoy 30% base support each, with 40% “middle ground” or “swing” voters up for grab.
Most people have focused their attention on the Malay bloc which constitutes 69.4% of the electorate and for obvious reason.
If Anwar captures most of the “40%” middle-ground Malay voters on top of the “30%”, UMNO is in deep shits. If Anwar eats into UMNO’s base, then UMNO politicians will flock into PKR to save their own political future.
Since the non-Malays are perceived as stronger supporters of Anwar, if the Malay support exceeds 70%, Anwar will likely get at least somewhere 75% of votes. And the Malaysian politics shall evolve by every hour.
What most analysts (likely including UMNO strategists) and party workers have ignored is the pivotality of the Chinese sector.
While MIC has had much of its base swept away in the political tsunami, the same cannot be said of MCA and Gerakan. In many places, these two parties still enjoy the support of three Chinese amongst every ten.
In Permatang Pauh, this is widely seen – including by some PR workers – as the limit. Anwar is expected to capture the middle ground but not eat into the 30% of BN’s Chinese base.
What if the unthinkable happens? What if the “BABI” UMNO plays up in Malay kampung turns back to haunt BN in the Chinese suburb? What if BN gets less than 10% of the Chinese vote?
My guess is that MCA and Gerakan will be forced to stand up against UMNO, demanding real political change, or risking their elimination by next elections.
It will then be a tough choice for UMNO. Conceding to the non-Malays’ demand for change would be a big loss of face after playing up the Malay sentiment. But defending the “BABI-bashing” antics is like pushing MCA and Gerakan’s 17 parliamentarians to jump ship.
Like the unexpected severity of Hindu temple demolition which effectively demolishes MIC, UMNO may eventually regret “membabikan” the campaign to make MCA and Gerakan the latest victims of a smaller-scale tsunami.
But would even the 30% BN’s Chinese base vote be furious for being insult as swines? That’s the question worth waiting for tomorrow night besides the main battle in the Malay heartland.