The Korea Herald


Election remains foggy with Lee, Yoon neck and neck in polls

Poll partly reflects first official television debate among top candidates

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Feb. 6, 2022 - 15:59

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Candidates Lee Jae-myung of Democratic Party (left) and Yoon Suk-yeol of People Power Party prepare for TV debate held Thursday. (Joint Press Corps) Candidates Lee Jae-myung of Democratic Party (left) and Yoon Suk-yeol of People Power Party prepare for TV debate held Thursday. (Joint Press Corps)

Even after the first TV debate held Thursday, two front-runners of the presidential election are running neck and neck against each other, polls showed Sunday.

Candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party earned 43.3 percent support, while Lee Jae-myung of the liberal Democratic Party of Korea earned 41.8 percent, according to a poll held by Realmeter under the request of local media outlet Newsis. The poll was conducted on 1,076 adults on Thursday and Friday, partially reflecting the first TV debate among the four candidates aired on Thursday.

The 1.5 percentage point gap between the two is within the margin of error of 3.0 percentage points.

Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor conservative People’s Party gained 7.5 percent support, followed by Sim Sang-jung from the minor progressive Justice Party at 2.6 percent.

Undecided voters and those without responses came to a total of 4.8 percent.

By age group, Yoon performed well among voters in their 20s and those in their 60s or older, scoring 44.5 percent and 56.6 percent, respectively.

Lee was popular among voters in their 40s and 50s, earning 57.5 percent and 49.8 percent each.

Among voters in their 30s, Lee led the race with 40.5 percent, followed by Yoon at 38.1 percent.

Another survey also showed Yoon and Lee coming in a close race. Yoon had 37.2 percent support, while 35.1 percent said they supported Lee, marking a 2.1 percentage point gap within the margin of error of 3.1 percent.

The poll was conducted by KSOI under the request of the daily newspaper Kookmin Ilbo on 1,006 adults from Thursday to Friday.

Meanwhile, the second TV debate, which was slated to take place on Tuesday, has been tentatively canceled as the four political parties disagreed on how the event should be arranged.

The Journalists Association of Korea was to host Tuesday’s event, inviting the four front-runners. The debate was set to be aired on local TV channel JTBC.

The People Power Party, however, questioned the fairness of the broadcaster and called for the host to allow other broadcasters to air the debate jointly. It also asked to reschedule the date of the event, citing their candidate Yoon’s health issues. As its requests were not accepted, it said Yoon will not participate in the debate.

“The event does not guarantee fairness, which is the main principle of a debate,” the party said through an official statement after the negotiation failed Saturday.

The journalist association said it is considering continuing with its initial plan to host a debate on Tuesday with the three candidates excluding Yoon, or arranging another discussion of the four candidates, which will be aired through multiple TV channels.

“The People Power Party said the Journalists Association of Korea is in a special relationship with a certain political party. It said it could not take part in the debate, as it is unfair to be invited to a debate where the broadcaster has already been settled,” the Journalists Association of Korea said through a press release. “But still, the party said it will participate in the debate if the association decides to air the debate through four channels jointly.”

Opposition parties attacked Yoon and People Power Party for pulling out from the debate at the last minute.

“It is nearly unbelievable for People Power Party to cite health issues, a political taboo for presidential candidates. The party’s attitude is very irrational, as Yoon was actively taking part in his election campaign on Jeju Island at the time (of the cancellation),” Cho Seung-rae, senior spokesperson of Democratic Party of Korea said through a briefing held Sunday.

“In the end, the people are the judges. They will wisely judge who had an advantage and who was disadvantaged. Please come to the debate with trust in the people,” Sim wrote on her social media account, a few hours later after the debate negotiation failed.

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

By Im Eun-byel (