As of 12.45 Japan time the counting of the LDP presidential contest’s regional chapter votes continues (日). Ishiba has acquired 157, Abe 84, and Ishihara 34.There is only 16 left to apportion. So this means even before they move to the LDP Diet members voting portion of the first round (in an hour or so), this is going to be a two-horse race.
The question now becomes whether those who would have Ishiba (or Abe) as their second choice after Ishihara, Machimura, and Hayashi, are going to switch their votes to him now or only vote for their man in the run-off. Ishiba will probably need about 85 votes to avoid a run-off. If he doesn’t it could bode very badly for Ishiba in a run-off vote, where there is a possibility that for the first time in 56 years the second place getter in the first round will defeat the first place getter in the run-off. The decisiveness of Ishiba “popular vote” victory, gaining over half of the 300 regional votes for himself, (and especially considering there was 5 people in the race), would for all common sense mitigate against such an outcome. But, factionalism could still rear its head in the LDP. This morning there was much talk about this being the last chance for renewal for the LDP. While I have my doubts if Ishiba will represent renewal as such, an Abe victory, when seen in the view of the regional chapter votes and his own biography, would certainly suggest that the last chance for renewal has definitely been missed.