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Gyeonggi Gov. Lee retakes lead over ex-prosecutor general

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yohap)
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yohap)

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, the front-running presidential contender for the ruling party, retook the lead in a presidential hopefuls poll released Monday, beating former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl of the main opposition party.

In a poll of 1,006 voters conducted by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) on Friday and Saturday, Gov. Lee of the Democratic Party (DP) garnered support from 30 percent of respondents, pushing down Yoon of the People Power Party (PPP) to second place with 27.1 percent.

The gap between the two leading candidates was smaller than the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Lee's favorability rose by 6.4 percentage points from last week, while Yoon lost 1.7 percentage points in support.

Lee, who had maintained the top position in KSOI's presidential hopefuls polls for four straight weeks since the fourth week of August, lost the top spot to Yoon last week amid allegations he gave business favors to private companies to join a lucrative public land development project in Seongnam city's Daejang district in 2015 when he was the Seoul adjacent city's mayor.

The rebound seems to be attributable to the rallying of Lee's supporters around him as the opposition bloc steps up its offensive against the governor over the land development scandal, the pollster said.

Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, a five-term PPP lawmaker whose popularity recently shot up, came in third with 16.6 percent of support, and former DP chief Lee Nak-yon at fourth with 12.5 percent. 

In an inquiry about favorability of ruling bloc candidates, the Gyeonggi chief ranked first at 33 percent, followed by the former DP chief Lee at 22.5 percent and DP Rep. Park Yong-jin at 4.3 percent.

Among opposition bloc candidates, Yoon took the top spot with 29.7 percent of support, closely tailed by Hong at 29.5 percent.

The poll, commissioned by local cable news channel TBS, had a 95 percent confidence level.

The Gyeonggi governor was also leading the field in a separate survey conducted by Korea Research International, commissioned by broadcaster MBC, over the weekend on 1,001 respondents.

Around 27.8 percent of the respondents supported Lee, while Yoon garnered 17.2 percent.

Hong followed in third place with 16.3 percent, up a whopping 11 percentage points from a month earlier. Lee Nak-yon came in fourth with 11.7 percent.

Respondents also picked the Gyeonggi governor as the most favored liberal candidate and Hong as the most favored conservative candidate. (Yonhap)