Two opposition rivals who once banded against a conservative front in late 2012 have formed a clear two-way race in an election next month to pick the successor of jailed ex-president Park Geun-hye who is on trial for her active role in a corruption scandal.
Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer from the main opposition Democratic Party, was an outright leader in opinion polls a week ago, well ahead of Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party, a splinter opposition group, as well as other conservative and liberal candidates.
With one month left before the May 9 election, Ahn has quickly gained ground on Moon, capitalizing on unexpected support from conservative voters in Park's regional stronghold, according to fresh polls. In a survey of 2,244 voters, published by Realmeter on Monday, Moon garnered 42.6 percent, followed by Ahn with 37.2 percent.
Moon was found to be leading in Seoul and the adjacent area which together has more than one-fourth of the population, and his home province around the southeastern port city of Busan, while Ahn was stronger in the regions which had largely supported Park in the previous election in December 2012. Support was split or neck-and-neck in other areas.
By age group, Moon was popular among young voters while Ahn was supported by an old generation in their 50s or more.
Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org