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Polling to select unified candidate

Posted November. 23, 2012 05:33,   


The opposition camp`s process to elect a unified candidate is similar to that done between Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon in 2002. A TV debate was held just once in 2002 and this year as well, but the latter was disappointing compared to the former. The debate this month was more of an extended conflict over how to elect the unified candidate rather than an opportunity to compare and verify governing philosophies, policies or qualifications. The two candidates used many flowery words to describe the unified candidacy such as “moving,” “beautiful” and “unifying values and philosophies,” but they all sounded empty.

Electing a unified candidate through polls cannot secure legitimacy. The head of a major pollster said, “Polling to elect a unified candidate means no one knows what will happen. It’s like a lottery or trick that absolutely ignores statistical principles.” The presidential election is too important for the country to accept that such absurd polls are conducted. For a pollster to conduct the surveys would be irresponsible without professional ethics.

If the margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percent, it is statistically impossible to determine who leads unless the gap is larger than 5 percent. That is, a candidate with an approval rating of 52.5 percent cannot be said to lead another with 47.5 percent, much less the 0.1-percent lead that the two candidates agreed to accept. This would be like deciding the candidate by playing rock, paper and scissors or flipping a coin. In 2002, the opposition candidates were wrong to chose polling as the method to decide the unified runner. Thus new politics must have no tolerance for this misleading method. Independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo has preached new politics, so his agreement to use this method seems contradictory.

Survey results vary depending on the weight of calculation of days, hours, home phones and cell phones. Pollsters say the result could come out differently even by adding or omitting the word "candidate" at the end of names. If anyone says surveying is the only option due to time constraints, this is like someone saying cheating is acceptable if little time is available to prepare for an exam.

Moon Jae-in won the candidacy of the main opposition Democratic Unified Party through a primaries participated by about a million party members. How ironic to see him agree to polls of up to thousands of people to choose the liberal camp`s single candidate, a race between him and an independent. This is humiliating to party politics. New politics, political reform and the advancement of democracy will come only if this type of political show comes to an end.