Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon of the ruling People Power Party is leading in the race for party leadership, but support for runner-up Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo also jumped twofold after strong contender Na Kyung-won bowed out, a poll showed Friday.
Kim was ahead of the others with 40 percent in the poll of 422 People Power Party supporters conducted by Realmeter between Wednesday and Thursday.
Ahn, who placed third with 17.2 percent in the poll conducted a week earlier, rose to No. 2 with 33.9 percent.
Former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min and former Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn trailed with 8.8 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. People Power Party lawmakers Yoon Sang-hyun and Cho Kyung-tae, who have both declared their bids to run, earned 3.2 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
This was the first poll by Realmeter conducted after Na said Wednesday she will not run for party leadership, giving in to apparent objections from the office of President Yoon Suk Yeol and raising questions about whom her supporters will back instead.
Na, who had placed second in the previous poll with 25.3 percent, said she made the decision because she does not want to see division in the party following a row with the top office.
When asked who they would pick in a runoff between Kim and Ahn, 48 percent said they support Kim, while 40.8 percent picked Ahn.
The poll of 1,009 adults, when including those who did not identify themselves as People Power Party supporters, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points when limiting the results to People Power Party supporters.
The People Power Party is scheduled to hold a national convention on March 8 to pick a new leader.
The next leader will be decided only by a vote of party members, and a runoff election will be held unless anyone wins a majority of votes. (Yonhap)