Moon's approval rating at all-time low of 29%

Posted on : 2021-05-03 17:21 KST Modified on : 2021-05-03 17:21 KST
His approval rating among people in their 20s is down to 21%
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for a new automobile factory in Gwangju. (Yonhap News)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for a new automobile factory in Gwangju. (Yonhap News)

A new poll found that just 29% of South Koreans approve of Moon Jae-in's job as president, the first time his approval rating has dropped below 30%. The poll's outcome suggests that an increasing number of people in their 20s are defecting from Moon because of his government's policy toward real estate and cryptocurrency.

Now that Moon's support has fallen below 30% — crashing through a psychological barrier for the "lame duck" period frequently seen toward the end of a presidency — there are concerns that Moon's policy initiatives will lose even more momentum.

When Gallup Korea asked 1,000 voters around the country from Tuesday to Thursday to rate Moon's job performance, 29% responded positively and 60% negatively. The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points and a 95% confidence level.

Moon's positive rating was down 2 points from the previous week (31%), reaching the lowest point since he took office. His rating has been sliding downward since the poll in the first week of March (40%), but this was the first time it fell below 30%.

The biggest factor weighing down Moon's job performance rating appears to be voters' opinion of his administration's real estate policy. When voters were asked why they gave Moon a negative rating, their most common answer was "real estate policy" (28%), followed by "poor response to COVID-19" (17%) and "inadequate resolution of economic/livelihood issues" (9%).

Real estate was the policy area about which respondents were least likely to give Moon a positive rating, at just 9%, while negative assessments climbed to 81%.

While negative ratings outnumbered positive ones across all age groups, the highest percentage was among people aged 60 and above, at 62%, followed by people in their 20s (62%), 50s (61%), 40s (52%), and 30s (49%).

Recent polls show that Moon is hemorrhaging support among people in their 20s. His approval rating in that age group has fallen steadily, from 27% two weeks ago to 25% last week and now down to 21%. When Gallup Korea asked respondents to assess the Moon administration's real estate policy during the same period, just 4% of people aged 18-29 rated that policy positively.

"One of the main reasons that Moon's approval rating has dropped below 30% is because of falling support among people in their 20s. Capital gains tax on cryptocurrency and stocks, real estate, and gender issues are alienating people in their 20s," said Eom Gyeong-yeong, director of the Zeitgeist Institute.

When respondents were sorted by ideological leaning, Moon's approval was below average among moderates, at 28%, compared with 10% of conservatives and 61% of progressives.

By region, Moon's approval was at 29% in Seoul, down 2 points from the previous week, and at 24% in the Daejeon, Sejong, and Chungcheong region, down 12 points from the previous week.

As for political parties, the Democratic Party was supported by 33% of respondents and the People Power Party by 28%. Moon's approval has remained below that of the ruling Democratic Party, forming a "death cross" since a poll on the third week of April, two weeks ago. This week, the gap between the two widened from 1 point to 4 points.

"The reversal of President Moon and his party's approval ratings signify a shift in dynamics and could be a sign of danger for the last year of his presidency," said Bae Cheol-ho, a senior analyst at Realmeter.

This poll was carried out in the form of telephone interviews with researchers, with a response rate of 16%.

By Jang Na-rye, staff reporter

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