February 01, 2012 12:43
Software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo is either neck and neck or has been overtaken in the latest opinion polls by Moon Jae-in, a close associate of former President Roh Moo-hyun.
A survey by pollster Research View of 1,500 people this week shows Ahn with a 22.7 percent support rating, third after the Grand National Party's Park Geun-hye (35.4 percent) and Moon (25.3 percent). This is the first time Ahn has been overtaken by Moon in opinion polls.
When it comes to his suitability as presidential candidate for the opposition camp, Ahn with 27.9 percent also ranked behind Moon with 29.3 percent.
Meanwhile a survey by the Maeil Business Newspaper and Hangil Research early this week gave Ahn a 19.4 percent approval rating in terms of his suitability as an opposition candidate, just ahead of Moon's 16.1 percent and within the acceptable margin of error.
Experts blame Ahn's reluctance to declare his candidacy. Returning from a trip to the U.S. on Jan. 21 after meeting Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates just before the Lunar New Year holidays, Ahn told reporters, "I am not a politician. I believe that someone like me will not be necessary if the ruling and opposition parties do their duty."
Kim Hyung-joon at Myongji University said, "Ahn made it clear that he doesn't want to enter the ring for the time being. The opposition camp needs to look for an alternative as the general elections approach and in the meantime Moon is gaining popularity with the revival of the pro-Roh Moo-hyun camp."
Ahn's supporters are mostly younger leftwing voters and centrists who do not favor a particular political party. Experts believe the leftwing supporters have gone over to Moon. Pollster Research and Research said, "When pitted against Park in opinion polls, Ahn wins by drawing voters who are against President Lee Myung-bak administration and the GNP, but in a race involving multiple candidates, Ahn loses votes to Moon and Sohn Hak-kyu," the leader of the former Democratic Party. It added between 5 and 10 percent of opposition supporters appear to have moved over to Moon.
But experts say that the status of the presidential hopefuls will shift depending on the results of the April general elections. The variables are whether Ahn decides to enter the presidential race, how much support Moon's faction garners in Busan and South Gyeongsang Province, and whether Sohn stages a comeback.
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