|Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, center, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, attends a meeting with leaders and advisory group members of the party, held at the National Assembly in Seoul, Wednesday. Join Press Corps|
By Jung Da-min
It has been usual for a presidential candidate of a party, either ruling or opposition, to see an increase in their support rate right after being selected to represent the party, as public attention and expectations have usually escalated during the months of primary campaigns.
But for Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, who was selected on Sunday as a final candidate for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), the usual trend is not applicable. Rather, his support rate has fallen, which political analysts say results from a land development scandal allegedly involving him and an internal party dispute over vote counting in the primary.
In the hypothetical two-way races with presidential contenders of the conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP), as part of a survey by Gallup Korea of 1,006 adults from Monday to Tuesday, right after Lee's primary victory, the support rates for Lee declined from those in the previous poll conducted two weeks ago. The PPP is now in the final stage of selecting its presidential candidate.
|Main opposition People Power Party (PPP) leader Lee Jun-seok, left, and floor leader Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon hold placards at a party meeting in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday, demanding the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) accept a special counsel investigation into a controversial land development project involving DPK presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung. Joint Press Corps|
Lee garnered 43 percent of the total support, compared to 40.4 percent for former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, the leading presidential contender of the PPP, in a hypothetical two-way competition. But two weeks earlier, Lee had 47 percent and Yoon, 39.3 percent.
In another hypothetical two-way race between Lee and the PPP's runner-up contender. Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, Lee's support rate was 40.6 percent and Hong's, 40.7 percent. Two weeks ago, Lee's support rate was 46.2 percent, far surpassing Hong's 38.6 percent.
Another poll seems to reflect the internal division in the DPK after the primary between supporters of the governor and those of former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon. In the primary, the governor obtained a cumulative 50.29 percent of all votes in the seven rounds of regional primaries for the DPK members and three rounds of polls for the general public, beating Lee Nak-yon, who garnered a cumulative 39.14 percent.
In a poll conducted by Realmeter of 2,027 adults from Monday to Tuesday, among the supporters of Lee Nak-yon, 14.2 percent said they would consider voting for the Governor Lee in next year's presidential election despite being DPK supporters.
On the contrary, 40 percent said they would rather vote for Yoon if he becomes the main opposition candidate.
Political analysts say that the two polls indicate Lee Jae-myung's popularity could be further impacted due to the scandal surrounding the lucrative land development project in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, that occurred in 2015 when he was serving as the city's mayor.
Lee has been saying that he was not involved in any illegal activity but feels sorry that he failed to properly supervise the city's staff as the mayor. Meanwhile, former staff and people involved in the scandal have been arrested and questioned and the investigation is expanding, with the PPP calling for a probe by a special counsel.
The clash between the governor and the former prime minister has been another cause. After the party announced Governor Lee as its presidential candidate following the final round of the primary, Lee Nak-yon appealed against the primary results, saying that the results could be different when considering the votes garnered by two other contenders who dropped out earlier. The DPK leadership dismissed Lee Nak-yon's appeal, Wednesday, and he then announced that he acknowledged the party's decision.
"The support rate for Lee Jae-myung among Lee Nak-yon supporters is very low, and some even turned to Yoon and Hong," a Realmeter official said. "It shows the party will be in the aftermath of the primary for a while and have difficulty in forming 'one team' for the presidential election."