2017 Lower House Election / Survey: LDP firmly in election driver’s seat

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri Shimbun The Liberal Democratic Party looks likely to comfortably win a single-party majority of 233 seats in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, while opposition party Kibo no To (Party of Hope) appears to be losing momentum, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey and related coverage.

Kibo could struggle to retain the 57 seats held by its candidates before official campaigning for the election began, while the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has picked up support since the early stages of the campaign and is poised to significantly build on the 15 seats its candidates held.

The survey, which was conducted from Tuesday to Thursday to gauge support for the political parties in the final phase of the campaign, is the second Yomiuri poll following one conducted for all 289 single-seat constituencies across the nation on Oct. 10 and 11 — the opening days of the campaign. The latest survey covered 114 chiefly tightly contested constituencies.

The election situation analysis, combined with results of the previous survey and coverage by The Yomiuri Shimbun general bureaus and other sources nationwide, paints a picture of voting trends as the clock ticks down to election day.

The LDP remains in a solid position. It has maintained the upper hand in the about 140 constituencies in which it held an advantage, and LDP candidates have pulled ahead of rival parties’ candidates in 16 of the 114 constituencies targeted in the latest survey. In knife-edge constituencies in Gunma Prefecture, Tokyo and elsewhere, many LDP candidates have grabbed the lead.

Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, has not gained more support in proportional representation blocs and is highly likely to lose some of the 34 seats it held. However, it is possible the LDP and Komeito could reach 300 seats in total.

Kibo has fielded 75 candidates in the 114 surveyed constituencies, but the party is struggling, with 31 of those candidates trailing the opposition.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kibo is even finding the going tough in Tokyo, the electoral base of party leader Yuriko Koike, also the Tokyo governor. In Tokyo Constituency No. 10, Masaru Wakasa, a close aide of Koike and a founding member of Kibo, had been locked in a close tussle with an LDP candidate but has now fallen behind.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has been gaining strength, according to the survey. Three CDPJ candidates, including acting leader Akira Nagatsuma in Tokyo Constituency No. 7, have edged ahead in the closing days of the campaign, and now six CDPJ candidates have firm grips on their respective races. The CDPJ has eclipsed Kibo in the proportional representation blocs. When these seats and the single-seat constituencies are combined, the CDPJ could end up about equal to Kibo.

The Japanese Communist Party had positioned Kyoto Constituency No. 1 as a “must-win” seat. However, Keiji Kokuta, the party’s Diet affairs chief, trails the LDP candidate in this constituency. The JCP has been unable to recover overall from a shaky start to the campaign and could find it difficult to improve on the 21 seats it held before the campaign started.

Nippon Ishin no Kai candidates are facing uphill battles, even in the party’s home base of Osaka. Ishin Secretary General Nobuyuki Baba faces a tough fight in Osaka Constituency No. 17. According to the survey, Ishin is likely to end up with about 14 seats — the same as before the election — when single-seat constituencies and proportional representation blocs are combined.

It is touch-and-go whether the Social Democratic Party can increase the two seats it held before the campaign. The odds are stacked heavily against the Party for Japanese Kokoro.

About 20 percent of respondents to the survey did not state which candidate they would vote for in single-seat constituency races, so the overall situation contains some fluidity.

The survey was conducted via telephone on 75,336 households with eligible voters, with responses from 45,282 people, or 60 percent.

Support for Abe’s party strong

The survey revealed the LDP remained the dominant party and had steadily firmed up its support in the proportional representation blocs. Kibo was losing steam, and the CDPJ was poised to become the second-largest party in the lower house.

When the results for the 114 constituencies covered in the latest survey were compared with the findings from the survey conducted in the campaign’s initial stage, support for the LDP in the proportional representation blocs crept up from 32 percent to 33 percent. The LDP fared especially well among voters aged 18 to 29, where it gained support from 49 percent of respondents. The party’s popularity was evident across generations — leading other parties by 10 percentage points or more in all age brackets except for voters in their 60s.

A national estimate based on the survey results suggests the LDP will win about 60 of the 176 proportional representation seats up for grabs and remain the largest party.

Among the opposition parties, the CDPJ was picked by 17 percent of respondents (up from 14 percent) and overtook Kibo, which fell from 16 percent to 13 percent in the latest survey. In the first survey, respondents who did not support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet were evenly split, with 25 percent saying they would vote for Kibo in the proportional representation race, and 25 percent opting for the CDPJ. However, in the latest survey, this figure increased to 31 percent for the CDPJ and slipped to 21 percent for Kibo — indicating that the CDPJ is becoming the preferred choice for voters looking to cast a ballot against the Abe administration.

The LDP also remained solid in single-seat constituencies. The LDP remains steadily in control in about 60 percent of the 38 constituencies in which it, Kibo and the CDPJ have all fielded candidates.

Kibo held an advantage in none of those 38 constituencies, according to the first Yomiuri survey. This situation continued in the latest survey. Although Kibo is putting up a good fight in Aichi Constituency No. 1, its back is to the wall in most of the others.

The CDPJ continues to hold the lead in three of these constituencies, unchanged from the earlier survey. Although the CDPJ has jumped ahead in what was a tight race in Tokyo Constituency No. 7, it has been dragged into a desperate scrap in Aichi Constituency No. 5. If the CDPJ can win some of these closely fought constituencies, it could significantly build on the 15 seats it held before the campaign.Speech

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