Moon's approval rating reaches all-time low: Realmeter poll
President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating has plummeted to a record low, standing at 37.4 percent, according to the results of a new poll released Thursday.
That number, the lowest to be documented by pollster Realmeter since Moon took office in May 2017, comes amid an intense controversy surrounding Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s decision to suspend Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl from his duties last week.
An administrative court on Wednesday reversed Choo’s decision and restored Yoon to his job — a verdict widely interpreted as a defeat for the administration in its ongoing drive to curb the powers of the state prosecution service.
And the president’s disapproval rating soared to 57.3 percent in the poll, also the highest since Moon’s inauguration. The poll was conducted from Nov. 30 through Dec. 1 among 1,508 respondents across the country.
The administration's biggest cause for concern with these numbers, however, stems from slumping support in Moon’s core base.
While his approval sank across the country, one of the most precipitous drops came from the Jeolla region — the traditional base of support for the ruling Democratic Party (DP). Compared to 72.2 percent recorded last week, the president received only 58.3 percent of support in the area.
Moon’s approval among people in their 40s, the age group in which he has consistently enjoyed the highest popularity, fell by 5.9 percentage points, to 48.9 percent this week. His approval among women has plunged to 37.7 percent.
Among liberals, Moon’s popularity dived by 7.8 percentage points to 64.2 percent over the course of one week. Moderates also further withdrew their support, with Moon recording 35.8 percent among centrist voters.
The DP saw its support tumble alongside the president, dropping 5.2 percentage points compared to last week, now standing at 28.9 percent. This was the first time the party’s popularity fell into the 20s since Moon came to power.
The poll was also the second time in four months that the DP had a lower approval rating in a Realmeter poll compared to the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), which received 31.2 percent.
Interpretations of the results varied along partisan lines, however.
Calling the poll results a “lash from a whip wielded by the people,” DP Rep. Jung Chung-rae said they manifested the disappointment felt by the DP’s base in the administration’s weak response to Yoon’s defiance against Choo, along with the ongoing stalemate over the procedures to launch a new investigative agency focusing on corruption by high-ranking officials.
When the administration resolves the issue by successfully launching the agency, Moon’s popularity will recover among his base, Jung argued.
Kim Chong-in, interim chairman of the PPP, said the poll expressed the public’s anger about the administration’s “inexplicable persecution” of Prosecutor General Yoon amid heightened discontent over the government’s real estate and tax policies.
The Blue House itself remained cautious about drawing conclusions. One administration official said the presidential office was “sternly watching the situation,” adding the administration would do its best “amid a variety of difficulties” it is facing.
The poll had a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]