Lee Myung-bak has strong lead in last poll before election

Posted on : 2007-12-14 10:12 KST Modified on : 2007-12-14 10:12 KST
As anti-Lee voters line up to support liberals, Chung could take second place

With the December 19 presidential election a few days away, The Hankyoreh conducted its last public opinion poll on Wednesday. The poll showed that Lee Myung-bak of the opposition Grand National Party was first with 44.3 percent approval, while Chung Dong-young of the United New Democratic Party and independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang ranked second and third, respectively, with 14.4 percent and 10.9 percent support. Moon Kuk-hyun of the Create Korea Party followed with 6.4 percent, trailed by Kwon Young-ghil of the Labor Democratic Party with 2.9 percent and Lee In-je of the Democratic Party with 0.6 percent. Of those surveyed, 20.6 percent declined to answer who they will vote for in the upcoming election.

The poll is the last one taken before the election, since under the current election law, opinion poll results cannot be published in the six days before the election so as not to unfairly influence the opinions of voters.

According to the survey, which was conducted jointly by The Hankyoreh and polling firm Research Plus, Lee Myung-bak seemed to have solidified his lead over his other rivals with approval ratings of over 40 percent. The survey also showed that the former Seoul mayor had garnered between 39.9 percent and 46.1 percent of support, while the UNDP’s Chung gained from 14.4 percent to 16.2 percent, and independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang earned from 10.9 percent to 17.8 percent.

The joint poll showed the gap between the front-runner and the runner-up at 29.9 percent. That gap could be narrowed when the real voting takes place, however, since those who declined to answer will be excluded from the final count. It is also possible that an inclination to prevent the front-runner from overwhelming the election will emerge among voters when they go to the polls next week.

Five years ago, prior to the previous presidential election, The Hankyoreh conducted a similar public opinion poll. In that poll, the gap between the candidates in the first and second positions was 6 percentage points, but it turned out to be just 2.4 percentage points after the election results were calculated.

Lim Sang-ryeol, head of Research Plus, said, “In real-time voting, the top two candidates gain more support and the gap between the two tends to narrow.”

However, he cautioned that this year’s election could be somewhat different. “We should bear in mind that the GNP’s Lee has much higher approval ratings than the other competitors.”

Indeed, among those who said they will “surely vote” in the election, Lee commanded 48.4 percent support, while his other rivals had significantly less.

In a separate survey conducted earlier this month, independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang garnered 26.3 percent of support but, this time, his approval ratings have fallen to 10.9 percent. Observers say that the UNDP’s Chung is likely to surpass Lee Hoi-chang to win second place, and as anti-GNP forces seem to be gathering behind the liberal candidates, the former television anchorman could see his approval ratings exceed the 20-percent mark. Excluding undecided voters from the latest poll, Chung’s approval rating is estimated at 18 percent.

One possible factor that could affect the current landscape is the 20.1 percent of those surveyed who said that they might change their mind as to who they will support. Still, 81.2 percent of Lee Myung-bak’s supporters said that they will continue to stand by the former Seoul mayor, showing that his support base is most solid among all of the candidates in this election.

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

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