Apr 18, 2017
Moon Jae-in, left, presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, and Ahn Cheol-soo, right, presidential candidate of the People's Party, stump on the street on Monday as the official election campaign began. [YONHAP]
Now the key will be keeping their bases, not reaching undecided
Democratic Party nominee Moon Jae-in
and People's Party's candidate Ahn Cheol-soo
are in a tight race for the May 9 presidential election, according to the latest poll by the JoongAng Ilbo.
Moon scored 38.5% and Ahn 37.3%, competing within the margin of error. The survey questioned 2,000 voters nationwide on Saturday and Sunday, with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
In the JoongAng Ilbo poll on April 4 and 5, Moon scored 38.4% and Ahn 34.9%, again competing within the margin of error.
In the latest poll, Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party was backed by 7.4%, down from 9.6%. Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party scored 3.9%, up from 2.7%, and Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party recorded 3.7%, up from 2.1%.
The voters were clearly divided between Moon and Ahn by generation, region and ideology.
Moon was largely backed by younger voters, while Ahn was preferred by older voters. Moon was backed by 45.8% of voters in their 20s, 56.2% of those in their 30s and 50.9% of those in their 40s. Ahn was supported by 49.6% of voters in their 50s and 47.5% of voters over 60.
In Daegu and North Gyeongsang, the traditional conservative strongholds, Ahn recorded 46.5%, 28.8% higher than Moon. In Seoul, Gwangju and Jeolla, regions that are considered more liberal, Moon led with 45.6% in Seoul, compared to 34.7% supporting Ahn, and 48.1% in Gwangju and Jeolla, compared to 37.4% supporting Ahn.
Of the voters who identify themselves as conservative, 45.7% said they support Ahn. Among self-identified liberals, 59.6% said they support Moon.
In a simulated race among the top three candidates, Moon scored 43.5%, Ahn 42.9% and Hong 9.6%. In a two-way race, Ahn beat Moon. Ahn scored 50.2%, 5.8% higher than that of Moon's 44.4%. In last week's survey, Ahn beat Moon by 8 percentage-points.
Other opinion polls also showed that voters are increasingly uniting behind Moon and Ahn. “As the election day nears, maintaining their bases will be more important than persuading undecided voters,” said Yim Dong-wook, a professor of public administration at the Korea National University of Transportation.
In the Chosun Ilbo survey conducted with polling company Kantar Public on Friday and Saturday, Moon scored 36.3%, Ahn 31%, Hong 7.2%, Sim 2.7% and Yoo 2.1%.
In another poll by Seoul Economic Daily and Hankook Research, conducted over the weekend, Moon scored 42.6%, Ahn 35.6%, Hong 7.3%, Sim 3.9% and Yoo 2.7%.
More details about the polls are available on the National Election Survey Deliberation Commission's homepage.
According to the National Election Commission, the official campaign period started Monday and ends at midnight on May 8. Online campaign activities are still allowed even on the day of the election.
Including the five major candidates, 15 candidates in total, the largest number in Korean history, registered their bids. Among them, six are affiliated with political parties that hold seats in the National Assembly. The commission said the ballot will be 28.5 centimeters (11.2 inches) long so that it will be able to fit all the candidates' names.
The voter registry list will be confirmed on April 27. Overseas voting stations will be operated from April 25 to 30, and advance voting on ships will take place from May 1 to 4. Absentee voting will take place on May 4 and 5.
The government started Monday an effort to curb illegal campaign activities. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president, hosted a meeting with key ministers and the police commissioner to monitor the situation. Plans were also discussed to maintain the political neutrality of public servants.
The government also vowed to cooperate with the National Election Commission to increase turnout.