By Juni Kim
With the South Korean presidential election a little over a week away, frontrunner Moon Jae-in has maintained his lead while his closest competitor Ahn Cheol-soo continues to fall in the polls. Ahn, who nearly matched Moon’s polling numbers in early April after a surge in support, has dropped off considerably in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, conservative candidate Hong Joon-pyo continues to rise in the polls with the largest increase in support (4.2% over last week’s poll of polls) among the presidential contenders.
The shift in support between Ahn and Hong is likely due to conservative voters turning towards Hong’s more traditionally right-wing appeal and Ahn’s underwhelming performance in televised debates. Although the conservative vote is still split, Hong is now the most preferred candidate among self-identified conservatives at 36% (compared to Ahn’s 29%) according to the latest Gallup Korea poll, and 42% of conservative voters indicated they had a more favorable view of Hong after watching the television debates.
Although the shift in the polls is promising for Hong’s camp, an upset election result by either Hong or Ahn is unlikely at this point. Both candidates had the lowest marks among general voters for their performances in the debates, and Moon has maintained his polling lead over the past few weeks. 221, 981 votes have already been cast in last week’s overseas voting, including over 48,000 ballots cast in the United States, and early voting starts in South Korea this Thursday. Politics, especially in recent years, is subject to stranger than fiction twists and turns, but barring a monumental “May Surprise,” South Korea is likely to have its first progressive president in nearly a decade.
The polls included in our aggregate poll are from listings on the South Korean National Election Commission’s website. For more information, you can visit this page and see the polling data (in Korean) from each research organization. Our aggregate poll includes polls conducted by Realmeter, Gallup Korea, ResearchView, Hankook Research, R&Search, KSOI, MetriX, and Ace Research. Last week’s poll of polls was updated with polling information from the week of April 18-24 that has been released since the prior blog was published. The updated numbers for last week’s polling results are as follows: Moon Jae-in (41.3), Ahn Cheol-soo (30.6), Hong Joon-pyo (10.1), Sim Sang-jung (4.2), and Yoo Seung-min (3.6).
Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone.
Images created by Juni Kim. Photos from 박근혜 공식앨범‘s flickr page, Chihoon Byun’s flickr page, 철수 안’s flickr page, ddeohee’s Twitter page.