The ‘law of victory in the presidential election’ shakes in a very close encounter

Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung (left) and People’s Strength presidential candidate Yoon Seok-yeol. yunhap news

As of the 6th, 31 days before the presidential election, the ‘rules of victory’ seen in the past presidential elections are shaking as the battle between Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party of Korea and Yoon Seok-yeol of the People’s Power presidential candidates continues within the margin of error. The ‘d-100 rule of thumb’, which states that the results of the polls 100 days before the election will continue until the day of the election, is becoming insignificant as the approval ratings for both candidates fluctuate after the D-100 day, showing a premarital aspect. The ‘law of occupancy of the middle class’, which has given priority to attacking the middle class, is somewhat different in this election. Instead of the large mass of the middle class, it is rather conspicuous that they are targeting the divided voter sentiment.

In the seven presidential elections held since the direct presidential election in 1987, the candidate who had the highest approval rating in opinion polls around D-100 won the final six times. The only exception was Roh Moo-hyun, who was in the 16th presidential election in 2002. However, it is not easy to apply this rule in this election itself. At the D-100 point, neither candidate had a clear advantage.

On November 29, last year, 100 days before the presidential election, four polls, including Korea Institute of Social Opinion (KSOI), Embrain, K-Stat Research, and Realmeter, showed a close match within the margin of error in three polls excluding Realmeter. In the KSOI and Embrain surveys, the gap in approval ratings between Candidate Yoon and Lee was 2.8 percentage points, and in the Case Stat Research survey, it was only 1.7 percentage points.

In the Real Meter survey, Candidate Yoon received a 46.3% approval rating, which was 9.4 percentage points ahead of Candidate Lee (36.9%). In a survey conducted by the same institution on the 10th of last month, the approval rating of Candidate Yoon fell to 34.1%, resulting in a result that lags behind Candidate Lee by 6.0 percentage points.

As the D-100 rule is shaken, attention is shifting to the results of a poll on the 15th, when the three-week official election campaign begins. The ‘D-21 rule’, which states that the results of public opinion polls at the start of the official campaign will continue into the presidential election, has been true in all seven presidential elections since 1987, without exception. For each candidate, the remaining 10 days can be the last ‘golden time’.

It is difficult to predict whether the ‘middle class preemption rule’, which states that a candidate who captures the middle class wins the election, will hold true in this election. In the past presidential election, conservative candidates generally left-click and liberal candidates right-click, showing a tendency to converge toward the midfield. However, in this election, a small promise-oriented offensive targeting voters that are more fragmented than the large mass of the middle class is commonly observed in both major candidate camps. As Candidate Jae-myung Lee launched a small campaign of promise under the name of ‘small but certain happiness’ since November last year, Candidate Seok-yeol Yoon also joined the competition by making a series of promises related to life under the name of ‘heart-thumping promise’ since last month. One is a typical example. Candidate Lee, who has promised to apply the hair loss drug health insurance, introduce 5G Wi-Fi for public transportation, and a 1,000-won passenger ship for island residents, made the 64th pledge on the 6th to change the automobile tax system to the vehicle price and carbon dioxide emission standards. Candidate Yoon also pledged to ease the administrative burden of teachers as the 32nd promise of a heart attack following the expansion of smoking areas and improvement of online game authentication procedures.

Compared to the previous elections, where candidates were often unified to target the middle class, such as Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil in the 15th presidential election in 1997, Roh Moo-hyun and Jung Mong-jun in the 2002 16th presidential election, and Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo in the 18th presidential election in 2012, this election saw the unification of Yun Seok-yeol and Ahn Cheol-soo. Another aspect is that the discussion seldom starts.

It remains to be seen whether the traditional support base of the Democratic Party and the People’s Power will move as in the past again this time. Candidate Lee Nak-yeon, who is from Honam, and former supporters of former representative Lee Nak-yeon from Honam during the primary election process, is having a difficult time gathering supporters in Honam due to emotional goals. Due to this, it is not able to completely absorb the Daegu-Gyeongbuk (TK) support group. In a poll conducted by the KSOI on the 3rd and 4th of the 3rd and 4th by Kookmin Ilbo to 1006 adults and released on the same day, Candidate Yoon’s TK approval rate was only 52.9%, while Candidate Lee made a good save with 25.8% approval rate. Conversely, in the Honam region, Candidate Lee received only 54.5% of the approval rating, and Candidate Yoon recorded an approval rating of 19.2%, close to 20%.

In addition, risk management for the candidate himself/herself and his/her family and the remaining TV debates may act as variables at the end of the election. If new suspicions arise at the end of the election, there is a possibility that those in their 20s, who moved quickly according to public opinion, or the shamans, who are delaying their choice until the very last minute, will lean to one side. In a poll conducted by Gallup Korea on the 28th of last month, 39% of illiterate voters and 10% of middle-class voters said that they had not yet decided on a candidate to support. Additional TV debates can also determine the direction of the vote. Despite the disgrace of the ‘unfavorable presidential election’, the viewership rating of the first four-party TV debate held on the 3rd of the presidential election was 39%, ranking second in viewership ratings among all-time presidential debates.

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