Chuseok is a very important time for Korean presidential elections. Chuseok is the time when large families with different political opinions get together. They often engage in heated discussions, thereby refining their positions and solidifying their support for one candidate or another. Thus, in the last three presidential elections, the presidential candidate who fell behind in the polls after Chuseok never managed to recover.
Can Park Geun-hye turn that trend around? Park still trails Ahn Cheol-soo, but she appears to be gaining some traction, possibly because of her latest apology for her father’s dictatorial legacy. In the first post-Chuseok poll conducted by Chosun Ilbo and Media Research, Park lost the head-to-head with Ahn Cheol-soo, 47.4% to 44.7%. But the gap of 2.7% is significantly smaller compared to the pre-Chuseok gap, which was 8.7%. Park very narrowly led the head-to-head poll against Moon Jae-in, 46.4% to 46.1%. This, again, is an improvement for Park, who very narrowly trailed Moon before Chuseok (by 0.9%.)
In a three-way poll, Park, Ahn and Moon gathered 39.1%, 29.4% and 22.5%, respectively. That Park trails the progressive field by such a huge margin — 51.9% to 39.1% — should be a cause for concern for Park. In a poll that asked whether the respondent would prefer to see an NFP candidate win or a progressive candidate win, the result was similar — 51.7% preferred the progressive candidate, while 36.9% preferred the NFP candidate.
Overall, Ahn Cheol-soo sank during Chuseok, possibly because of the latest expose on the “down contract.” In addition to the narrowed gap in the head-to-head, Ahn also saw his lead in the head-to-head against Moon Jae-in decrease. In a head-to-head poll asking for preference for the unified progressive candidate, Ahn led Moon, 47% to 43.4% — a mere 3.6% lead, compared to the 10.6% lead pre-Chuseok. But in the poll that compared the electability of Ahn versus Moon (asked to progressive and undecided voters only,) Ahn led Moon 50% to 39.5%.