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Gyeonggi Gov. emerges as top presidential hopeful, as ruling party suffers backlash

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung is leading in a popularity poll for the next presidency, a survey showed Friday.

In a Gallup survey of 1,001 adults in South Korea conducted from Tuesday to Thursday, Gov. Lee for the first time raced ahead of Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Lee Nak-yon in terms of popularity.

Over 19 percent of the respondents preferred Gov. Lee, up 6 percentage points from a month earlier. The endorsement rate for his political rival Rep. Lee dropped 7 percentage points to 17 percent.

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl was in third place with 9 percent, followed by minor opposition People’s Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo and unaffiliated Rep. Hong Joon-pyo at 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Gallup Korea said it conducted the survey by asking respondents to pick their favorite presidential hopefuls without giving them a list to choose from.

The latest result is alarming as Rep. Lee, widely recognized as the top contender for the next presidency for seven months, was overtaken for the first time. It is also the first time his endorsement rate fell below 20 percent.

In the latest survey, Gov. Lee gained the most popularity in the Seoul metropolitan area, Daejeon, Daegu and North Chungcheong, South Chungcheong and North Gyeongsang provinces.

Rep. Lee has the top popularity among presidential hopefuls in Gwangju and Busan and South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang provinces.

It is believed that Rep. Lee’s endorsement rating fell as the support rating for his affiliated ruling party has dropped in recent weeks. He is one of the key members of the Democratic Party while Gov. Lee is more of a distant figure in the party’s circle for being rather uninvolved with its central political efforts.

A Realmeter survey showed Thursday that the ruling Democratic Party’s support rating has fallen behind that of the conservative opposition United Future Party for the first time in almost three years.

The ruling party’s support rating fell 1.7 percentage points from a week earlier to 33.4 percent, while that of the United Future Party gained 1.9 percentage points to 36.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the Gallup survey found President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating dropped to its lowest point since last October to 39 percent, down 5 percentage points from a week earlier.

The disapproval rating rose 7 percentage points to 53 percent, as approval ratings from the 30s nosedived 17 percentage points and sentiment in Seoul dropping 13 percentage points. Gallup said Moon’s approval rating fell due to his party’s failure to stabilize the real estate market.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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