Poll says Ahn has edge with overseas Koreans in U.S.

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Poll says Ahn has edge with overseas Koreans in U.S.

Independent Ahn Cheol-soo was favored over the conservative Saenuri Party’s Park Geun-hye among Korean voters in the United States who registered to cast ballots in the December presidential election, a poll found.

The JoongAng Ilbo and Joins America, the news group’s U.S. affiliate, conducted a joint survey with 1,943 Korean voters living in the United States.

Among them, 678 voters, or 34.9 percent, said they were registered to vote in the Dec. 19 presidential election.

Among the registered voters, Park was the most popular candidate if the race has three contenders including Ahn and Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party. Park was backed by 44.2 percent, Ahn 32 percent and Moon 23.7 percent.

Because the poll didn’t factor in no-response, each candidate earned a slightly higher rating than the poll outcomes in Korea.

In a hypothetical two-way race, Ahn beat Park. While he scored 53.8 percent, Park earned 46.2 percent.

Park, however, beat Moon in the two-way race. She scored 51.8 percent and Moon 48.2 percent.

In the Park-Ahn race, older Korean voters supported Park more. They, however, showed a lower registration rate. Among them, Park scored 55.5 percent.

In contrast, Ahn was more popular among the temporary residents such as students and sojourning employees. Among them, Ahn scored 58 percent.

When Korea first allowed its citizens living overseas to vote for the first time in the April legislative election, only 45.7 percent of the registered voters actually cast ballots. The low turnout stirred controversy for its high cost yet low effectiveness, but the National Election Commission said the turnout would be higher.

For the presidential election, 220,000 voters registered, and the commission said more than 160,000 will participate.

In the survey, 82.9 percent of the registered voters said they will actually vote.

The overseas voting will take place from Dec. 5-10 for six days. Although the overseas votes only count for less than 1 percent, experts said it became an important factor because the match will be extremely tight and the winner could be decided by one or two percentage points.

By Shin Chang-un, Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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