Lee and Yoon both dip in polls amid respective scandals

Posted on : 2021-12-24 17:25 KST Modified on : 2022-03-07 14:27 KST
Lee Jae-myung remains slightly in the lead, but still within the margin of error
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 Suk-yeol 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 Suk-yeol of the People Power Party, and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party.

Support for People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol has been faltering due to a series of blows concerning allegations that his wife Kim Keon-hee forged her resume as well as internal strife that led party leader Lee Jun-seok to bow out of the PPP election committee.

On Thursday, Embrain Public, Kstat Research, Korea Research International (KRi), and Hankook Research announced findings from a National Barometer Survey on support for the current presidential nominees, which was administered to 1,000 adults nationwide between Monday and Wednesday. The survey had a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The results showed 35% of respondents backing Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung and 29% backing Yoon. The difference between Lee and Yoon expanded to 6 percentage points, which was nearly outside the 6.2-percentage point margin of error.

Yoon’s support was down by 7 percentage points from the 36% support rate he drew in the same survey two weeks earlier. Lee also experienced a dip in support, but with his drop amounting to just 3 percentage points, the gap between the two candidates ended up growing.

“There was a higher ‘no response’ rate among the males and 20- to 30-somethings who had been Yoon Suk-yeol’s key support base,” explained Park Jeong-seok, a deputy department director at KRi.

A total of 25% of respondents were categorized as supporting no candidate or giving no response. The rate was up by 8 percentage points from 17% two weeks earlier.

“Typically, the rate of people reserving judgment is supposed to decrease as the election draws closer. The fact that it’s been growing appears to reflect weakening [voter] support for the candidates amid the negative campaigning on both sides,” Park said.

Over the past two weeks, Yoon has been plagued by allegations that his wife Kim Keon-hee exaggerated her credentials on her CV, while Lee has apologized for his son’s illicit gambling activities.

The latest survey showed 6% of respondents supporting People’s Party nominee Ahn Cheol-soo and 4% backing Justice Party nominee Sim Sang-jung.

The reason most commonly given for supporting Lee was his “outstanding qualifications and capabilities as an individual candidate” (44%). In Yoon’s case, the most frequently given response was “to elect a different party” (69%).

When asked about their feelings on nominee family members being subjected to scrutiny, 68% of respondents said it was “reasonable in light of the prestige of the presidency,” while just 28% said it was “inappropriate to scrutinize family members when electing a president.”

Park Sung-min, head of Min Consulting, explained, “Because Yoon Suk-yeol has been so disappointing in terms of vision and leadership of his election committee, a lot of his support base is grudgingly backing him because they want the Democratic Party out of office.”

“Yoon is also much more vulnerable to the family risk factor because he’s talked so much about ‘fairness,’ ‘common sense,’ and ‘justice,’” he added.

At the same time, he cautioned, “We can’t ignore the race that has taken shape. It’s possible that some of the voters reserving judgment will return to backing Yoon and electing a different party to power.”

At 42% each, there was an even split between respondents who supported “voting for the ruling party candidate for the sake of stability in government” and “voting for the opposition candidate to pass judgment on the current administration’s governance” in next year’s presidential election.

This marks the first time NBS results have shown the same support rate for both attitudes in the six months since June, when the “pass judgment” perspective gained the lead over the “stability” perspective by a margin of 47% to 41%.

The survey was conducted through telephone interviews entirely using virtual cell phone numbers provided by three South Korean telecommunications companies. More details are available on the NBS and National Election Survey Deliberation Commission websites.

By Lee Wan, staff reporter

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

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