Election Presidential Candidates Still Neck-and-Neck in Polls

Election Presidential Candidates Still Neck-and-Neck in Polls


The main opposition People Power Party’s presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl and his ruling-party rival Lee Jae-myung remain in a neck-and-neck race in a recent poll conducted 50 days ahead of the election.

In a poll by Kantar Korea on Jan. 15-16, Yoon scored 32.8 percent support compared to Lee’s 31.7 percent. Next came Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party with strong gains at 12.2 percent, followed by Sim Sang-jung of the minor progressive Justice Party with 2.7 percent.

But compared to the last week of December, Yoon’s approval rating rose only 1.4 percentage points while Lee’s dropped 0.7 percent points, both well within the margin of error for such small handpicked samples of only about 1,000 voters.


Presidential candidates pose at an event in Seoul on Monday. From left, Yoon Seok-youl, Ahn Cheol-soo and Lee Jae-myung

Only Ahn convincingly doubled his 6.2 percent as the two lackluster main candidates remain embroiled in scandals, while Sim’s rating slipped by about a percentage point.

Ahn’s rebound comes amid internal conflicts in the PPP along with another controversy over Yoon’s wife Kim Keon-hee as some portions of her “private and inappropriate” telephone conversations with an YouTuber were aired over the weekend.

The YouTuber approached to her last year and secretly recorded over 50 telephones calls of seven hours in total. Kim, who apparently thought she was speaking off the record, casually talked about various issues in colorful language. But even so Lee is also unable to win over voters as he is embroiled in a land development scandal from his time as mayor of Seongnam. Two officials linked to the land development project recently killed themselves while a whistleblower on allegations surrounding Lee suddenly died last week.

Some 46 percent of respondents want the opposition to unify and choose a single candidate between Yoon and Ahn, compared to 43.1 percent against. But they had no strong preference and answers are inconsistent, suggesting anyone other than the ruling-party candidate will do.

In a hypothetical three-way race pitting Yoon against Lee and Sim, Yoon would score 39.3 percent, Lee 32.2 percent, and Sim 3.9 percent. But in a three-way race pitting Ahn against Lee and Sim, Ahn would score 47.9 percent, Lee 26.6 percent, and Sim 2.5 percent.

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