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Swing voters shun Yoon Suk-yeol amid controversies

Young voters abandon ship, increasingly disfavor main opposition candidate

By Ko Jun-tae

Published : Jan. 5, 2022 - 14:23

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Yoon Suk-yeol, presidential nominee of the main opposition People Power Party, speaks during a press conference Wednesday held to announce the dissolution of his election campaign committee. (Joint Press Corps) Yoon Suk-yeol, presidential nominee of the main opposition People Power Party, speaks during a press conference Wednesday held to announce the dissolution of his election campaign committee. (Joint Press Corps)
Presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party has seemingly lost support from young voters in their 20s and 30s, with just over 60 days left until the March election.

A Realmeter survey commissioned by YTN with 1,024 voters between the ages of 18 and 39 conducted on Monday and Tuesday showed that Yoon had 18.4 percent support from respondents, trailing Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People’s Party.

Lee had an unparalleled lead with 33.4 percent in support, followed by Ahn with 19.1 percent. Yoon failed to score a lead among any demographic group within the respondents.

According to the survey, men in their 20s gave the most support to Ahn, who garnered 31.3 percent, followed by Lee with 27.5 percent and Yoon at 15.8 percent.

More than 25 percent of female voters in their 20s expressed support for Lee, and Rep. Sim Sang-jung of the minor left-wing Justice Party came in second with 19 percent. Ahn trailed Sim with 15.3 percent, and Yoon sat at 14.5 percent.

Lee was dominantly supported by men in their 30s, with 46.6 percent of them favoring him over other candidates. Yoon trailed Lee with 21.1 percent, followed by Ahn with 17.4 percent. Their female counterparts showed similar preferences, with Lee leading the group with 35.7 percent, Yoon at 23.1 percent and Ahn at 10.4 percent.

The survey also found Yoon was the most disfavored candidate, with 48.8 percent of respondents picking Yoon as their answer for who should not be elected president among all candidates. Lee came second with 36.2 percent.

The result is especially shocking considering Yoon had overwhelming support from young voters since announcing his presidential bid until just weeks ago, when he was thrust to the center of controversies surrounding his aides and campaign team leadership.

As the majority of voters were in favor of overturning power for justice and fairness, Yoon, with experience as a prosecutor general who voiced strong opposition against the Moon Jae-in administration, was favored by many as a candidate to fulfill the voters’ wish.

The strife deepened within Yoon’s campaign team to negatively affect his ratings. Four surveys on Monday found Yoon trailing behind Lee by up to 9.7 percentage points, alarming news that triggered Yoon to announce the dissolution of his campaign committee Wednesday for a reorganization.

“I will have talented young people lead the election campaign committee,” Yoon said in a press conference Wednesday held to announce the dissolution. “I deeply regret my moves that disappointed those in their 20s and 30s, and here I vow to change completely.”

Yoon’s comment was seen as putting the focus on recovering the support of young voters, a group that has been touted as the key swing voters in the upcoming election.

The age group accounts for approximately 34 percent of all possible voters, and candidates likewise have held many campaign events and announced visions aimed at garnering their support.

For more information regarding the survey results, visit the National Election Survey Deliberation Commission homepage.