D-100 to S. Korean presidential election, Yoon and Lee poll neck and neck

Posted on : 2021-11-29 16:48 KST Modified on : 2021-11-29 16:48 KST
A survey of 1,027 voting-age S. Koreans showed 54.4% of those who voted for Moon Jae-in in 2017 as supporting Lee Jae-myung
Candidates for next year’s presidential election, from left to right: Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party, Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party, Yoon Seok-youl of the People Power Party, and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party.
Candidates for next year’s presidential election, from left to right: Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party, Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party, Yoon Seok-youl of the People Power Party, and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party.

An opinion survey conducted by the Hankyoreh 100 days ahead of the next presidential election showed Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung and People Power Party candidate Yoon Seok-youl polling neck and neck within the margin of error.

The 20th presidential election is scheduled to take place on March 9, 2022.

The findings also showed a split among supporters who cast their votes for Democratic Party candidate President Moon Jae-in in the 2017 election, with only around half of them backing Lee this time.

At the Hankyoreh’s request, the polling organization Kstat Research surveyed 1,027 voters aged 18 and older nationwide on Thursday and Friday. The survey had a confidence level of 95%, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The results showed Yoon leading Lee by a thin margin of 36.1% to 34.4% when respondents were asked who they regarded as the most suitable candidate in the presidential election.

Coming in behind them were Justice Party candidate Sim Sang-jung with 5.7% and People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo with 4.3%. Another 13.7% of respondents said they had no preference.

Yoon was found to enjoy strong support among the traditional PPP support bases of voters aged 70 and older (63%) and the Daegu/North Gyeongsang Province region (52.9%), while Lee had an advantage among voters in their 40s (53.6%) and respondents in the Honam region composed of North and South Jeolla provinces (62.2%).

While people in their 20s are expected to be the swing voters of this election, Lee and Yoon drew relatively low respective support ratings of 23.1% and 20.6% among that age group. Conversely, Sim enjoyed a higher support rating among 20-somethings (16.0%) than other age groups.

The results showed 46.5% of respondents agreeing that they “should vote for the opposition candidate in order to pass judgment on [the Moon administration’s] governing,” compared with 42.0% agreeing that they “should vote for the ruling party candidate in the interest of stable governing.”

When respondents were asked who they saw as more likely to win regardless of their own preference, 40.0% named Yoon and 37.1% named Lee.

Among voters who supported Moon as a Democratic Party candidate in the previous election, 54.4% indicated their support for Lee. Another 17.7% of those who voted for Moon said they favored Yoon this time, while 12.4% said they had no preference.

This means that only a little over half of the voters who backed Moon in 2017 are sticking with Lee as a Democratic Party candidate, while 30.1% either favor Yoon or are undecided.

In contrast, 83.9% of voters who backed Hong Joon-pyo from the Liberty Korea Party (the PPP’s predecessor) in the 2017 election indicated their support for Yoon this time. Another 2.4% of them said they supported Lee, while just 7.6% said they were still undecided.

“In the last election, support for Moon Jae-in was relatively broad and included even some conservatives, whereas the support base for Hong Joon-pyo consisted of relatively strongly conservative voters, so there’s not likely to be many of them breaking away,” said Jhee Byong-kuen, a professor at Chosun University.

According to this analysis, 2017 was a special case where Moon picked up a significant number of moderate and conservative votes beyond the traditional Democratic Party support base because of the election being held in the wake of the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, the incumbent president.

But other analysts saw the splintering of Moon’s support base as echoing the prevailing criticisms of the Moon administration. According to this line of thought, the same voters who opted for Moon as an alternative to the Park administration in the wake of the influence-peddling scandal that led to her impeachment have since turned away from the Democratic Party, disappointed with the current administration’s real estate missteps and perceived double standards.

“A lot of the moderates who held up candles [in demonstrations] toward the end of the Park Geun-hye administration pinned a lot of hopes on the Moon administration, and now they feel like those expectations are slipping down the drain,” said Park Sang-byung, a visiting professor at Inha University.

“The real estate problems have been the coup de grace in the [Democratic Party’s] loss of support, but it’s also a reflection of disappointment where it comes to jobs and inter-Korean relations,” he suggested.

By Lee Jae-hoon, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles