Monday, February 25, 2008

Cost of Atago-Fishing Boat Collision: 5.2 Percentage Points for Fukuda Administration, 3.6 Percentage Points for Coalition

My thanks to Observing Japan for leading me to the somewhat misleadingly named Hōdō 2001 polls. Its February 14 and February 21 polls give near-perfect before-after pictures of public opinion with regard to the February 19 collision.

According to the two polls, support for the Fukuda administration fell from 32.3% to 27.8%. Support (i.e. the party the responder wants to vote for in the upcoming Lower House election) for the coalition parties fell from 26.8% (LDP 22.2%; New Kōmeitō 4.6%) to 24.2% (LDP 20.6%;New Kōmeitō 3.6%), while the DPJ rose from 24.6% to 30.0%. But is it too early for the DPJ to rejoice? After all “undecided” still holds a healthy lead at 40.8% (down slightly from 42.0%). Perhaps.

Still, a look at the 2007 July 17 poll, taken just two weeks before the Upper House election, yields the following voting preference numbers: Abe administration 29.4%; coalition 23.8% (LDP 17.8%; New Kōmeitō 6.0%), DPJ 25.8% and 43.6% remained undecided. The first post-election poll, taken on August 2, says that support for the Abe administration had fallen to 23.6%, while stated voting preferences for the next Lower House election (the upcoming one) were given for the first time, at: coalition 21.1% (LDP 16.8%; New Kōmeitō 4.2%) and DPJ 34.0%, with 35.8% undecided.

I would be careful in using these numbers; at a minimum, support for the smaller parties appears to be too volatile. Besides, the Tokyo neighborhood is hardly representative of Japan as a whole, as Observing Japan is careful to point out. Still, it’s safe to say that the Atago has managed to push the Fukuda administration into late-Abe territorial waters. So do not expect a snap election any time soon. I’d also like to think that the DPJ has been gaining by hitting hard on the spending side of the gasoline tax issue, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

Hōdō 2001 airs on Sundays at 7:30AM. It’s similar to Sunday Project and has its own aging media figure Kenichi Takemura as host. It’s not unusual for guests to ride limos from one studio to another to put in multiple appearances in these Sunday morning programs for the benefit us nothing-better-to-dos. My guess is that, Sunday Project has slightly better guests. In any case, there’s only so much time you want to devote to these programs; that’s why I’d failed to look into this particular poll.

In fact, the only individual who appears to have come out ahead is Shigeru Ishiba. The very latest opinion poll has the public running two to one in favorite of him staying put to right things at the Defense Ministry. The Japanese public is very forgiving of standup guys.

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