Kim Moo-sung, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, took the lead for the first time in the latest poll conducted to measure approval ratings of nine potential presidential candidates this week. The Saenuri chairman topped the survey by Realmeter, commissioned by Herald Corp., with 18.2 percent, followed by Moon Jae-in, former presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, the predecessor of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, with 16.1 percent. Behind them was Seoul mayor Park Won-soon with 16 percent.
Realmeter surveyed 1,000 people above the age of 19 between Monday and Tuesday. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, with a 95 percent confidence level.
Surprisingly, the poll found that Kim’s approval ratings rose more than 11 percent from last month. A week before being elected as the leader of the governing party on July 14, Kim’s job ratings stood at 7 percent, placing himself in a middle-low position among other potential presidential candidates. For Kim, the 18.2 percent rating this week was a personal best, Realmeter said.
While Kim’s ratings have rallied for six weeks straight, Moon’s figure have fluctuated in recent weeks. The ratings of the two potential presidential candidates were very close at the beginning of the month, with Kim receiving 14.5 percent and Moon 14 percent in a poll released on Aug. 1. But even with a compromise reached by the two rival parties on Aug. 7 over the “Sewol special bill,” Moon’s popularity continued to drop.
Moon’s figure fell to 13.8 percent in a poll released on Aug. 15, a 1.5 percentage point decrease from the previous week. The poll was conducted right after he hinted at further negotiations over the Sewol bill on Aug. 8 on his Twitter account.
“The families’ approval is more important than the ruling party-opposition agreement,” Moon wrote.
“If they cannot agree, then the right thing to do is for the parties to put their heads together again.”
Moon’s ratings, however, climbed 2.4 percentage points this week from last week, after he started a hunger strike over the controversial bill following an agreement reached between floor leaders of the two parties.
Some observers say that Kim may have appealed to the public by making constant contact with people in need, drawing a big contrast from opposition leaders who continued to use Sewol-related issues as a political weapon to protest against the ruling party and the government. While Moon started a sit-in protest and stood by the bereaved family members of the Sewol victims, Kim visited flood-hit areas in the country’s southeastern region and vowed that he would quickly consult with the government on a request to designate them as special disaster areas.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)