Prime Minister Shinzo Abe still has the upper hand in his bid to beat rival Shigeru Ishiba and retain leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey of party members and supporters.
Abe was favored by 51 percent of the people surveyed by telephone about how they leaned in the election, while Ishiba, a former LDP secretary general, drew just 36 percent. Based on those proportions, Abe would secure 207 of the 405 votes among party members, while Ishiba would receive 146.
Adding in the votes of Diet members, among whom Abe enjoys strong support, the prime minister can expect around 70 percent of the votes, strengthening his bid for a third straight victory.
The survey was conducted Sept. 14-16 and covered all prefectures. Answers were received from 1,675 party members and supporters who were confirmed to have a vote in the leadership election.
Pollees were asked who they would vote for among the two candidates, or who they had already voted for. The number of votes for each candidate from party members was estimated based on the results of the telephone survey. However, 13 percent of the people surveyed did not reveal how they will vote, leaving a fluid element to the election.
The survey also inquired about a main point of contention in the election — revision of the Constitution. Regarding which of the four items proposed by the LDP should be prioritized as the party pursues revisions (multiple answers were allowed), the emergency clause to deal with large-scale disasters drew the most support with 69 percent.
Improving the education system gained 65 percent support, followed by stipulating the retention of the Self-Defense Forces with 55 percent and dissolving merged constituencies for the upper house elections with 33 percent.
The order of priority was the same among people who stated a preference for Abe, although in that grouping, the support for stipulating retention of the SDF rose to 65 percent.
Asked about the current state of politics, which has been referred to as “Abe’s one-man rule,” 59 percent replied it was “undesirable,” topping the 30 percent who felt it was “preferable.” Even limiting the sample to those leaning toward voting for Abe, there were indications of dissatisfaction as 53 percent answered “preferable” and 35 percent “undesirable.” Among those indicating they would vote for Ishiba, the “undesirable” proportion jumped to 92 percent.
A survey on support among LDP Diet members was also conducted from late July, when Fumio Kishida, chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, announced he would not run in the election.
As of Sunday, 338 of the 405 Diet members who have a vote in the party election, or more than 80 percent, answered that they support Abe, while 50 supported Ishiba. Six members were “undecided,” while 11 others did not answer.
Compared to his standing among Diet members, Ishiba has a somewhat better fighting chance among party members.
Combining the votes of Diet and party members, Abe draws a solid 545 votes (67 percent), while Ishiba gains 196 (24 percent).