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Cabinet support rate findings differ depending on phrasing of question

  • June 26, 2018
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

According to the Nikkei [nationwide] public opinion poll taken on June 22–24, the cabinet support rate surpassed nonsupport for the first time in four months. In the Mainichi poll conducted that same weekend on June 23–24, however, nonsupport still exceeded support at 36% and 40%, respectively.


The way the question is posed is thought to be one factor behind the difference in the polling results. The Nikkei offers pollees two options: support and nonsupport. However, the Mainichi gives pollees three options to choose from for the question “Do you support the Abe cabinet”: “yes,” “no,” and “not interested.” In the June poll, some 22% of respondents said that they are “not interested.”


In the March, April, and May polls, the “not interested” group made up about 20% of all respondents. The cabinet nonsupport rate in the Mainichi poll is about 2 to 5 percentage points lower than that in the Nikkei poll, while the support rate is about 10 points lower. There is a possibility that many in the “not interested” group would fall under “support” if required to select between just two options.


Moreover, the Nikkei poses the following follow-up question to respondents who answer “not sure” or “don’t know”: “Which is closer to your view?” Because pollees are asked twice, both the support and the nonsupport rates are higher than in a poll where the question is only asked once.


In both the Yomiuri Shimbun and Kyodo News polls, which were taken a week earlier [on June 15–17 and June 16–17, respectively], the support rate edged above the nonsupport rate. Although the exact support rate differs from poll to poll, most media outlet opinion polls agree that the support rate has risen since mid-June.


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