In the Nago mayoral election on Feb. 4, newcomer Taketoyo Toguchi achieved his first victory thanks to the firm backing he garnered from ruling party supporters. Incumbent Mayor Susumu Inamine lost the election because he was unable to solidify the support of those opposed to the relocation of the MCAS Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago City.
On Feb. 4, the Asahi Shimbun conducted an exit poll at the 12 voting stations in Nago City and received 1,382 valid responses. The Asahi also conducted an exit poll on each day of the pre-election-day voting and received 2,340 valid responses.
In both the voting-day poll and the pre-election-day poll, over 80% of Liberal Democratic Party supporters voted for Toguchi. Meanwhile, over 90% of supporters of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, and the Social Democratic Party cast their ballots for Inamine.
The key decisive factor in Toguchi’s election victory was the full-fledged participation of the Komeito in the election campaign. In the previous election [held in January 2014], Komeito did not endorse any candidate, so the question of who to vote for was left to the discretion of each Komeito supporter. Only 2% of respondents in the pre-election-day and election-day exit polls conducted in connection with the 2014 election said that they supported the Komeito. This time, 6% of respondents in the pre-election-day exit poll and 4% of respondents in the election-day exit poll said they back the junior ruling party, showing that the Komeito has increased its presence.
How poll respondents voted also changed substantially. In the case of the 2014 election, 32% of Komeito supporters who participated in the pre-election-day exit poll and 68% of Komeito supporters who participated in the election-day exit poll said that they voted for Inamine. This time, however, it was complete resistance against Inamine, as 94% of Komeito supporters who participated in the pre-election-day poll and 84% of Komeito supporters who participated in the election-day poll indicated that they cast their ballot for Toguchi.
What about independents, who make up the largest percentage of voters? In the previous election, some 75% of independents who participated in the pre-election-day poll and 75% of independents who participated in the election-day poll said that they voted for Inamine, and that powered Inamine into office that year. In the recent election, however, only 58% and 63%, respectively, said they cast their ballot for Inamine.
The exit polls also asked respondents for their views on the relocation of MCAS Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago City. Some 32% of respondents in the election-day exit poll said they are in favor of the relocation, while 59% said they are opposed. A total of 86% of those in favor of relocation voted for Toguchi, while 77% of those opposed voted for Inamine. Votes were thus sharply divided by views on the Futenma relocation issue.
In the 2014 election, 27% were in favor of relocation, and 68% were opposed. Thus a larger percentage of voters in the 2014 election were opposed to the relocation than in the recent election. Moreover, the polling results suggest that Inamine was unable to capture as many of the votes of those opposed to relocating Futenma Air Station in the recent election compared with 2014, when he garnered 91% of the votes of those opposed. The trends were virtually the same in the pre-election-day exit polls.