Despite or perhaps because of the unflattering comments about him by the parents of his girlfriend, actress Heart Evangelista, reelectionist Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero held on to the first to third spots in the senatorial race, results of the survey that Pulse Asia Inc. conducted in the third week last month showed.
Escudero (Independent/Team PNoy) garnered 51.5 percent, down by 3.4 percentage points from the survey in February but still enough to allow him to be in a statistical tie for first place with reelectionist Sen. Loren Legarda (NPC/Team PNoy).
Legarda, who consistently dominated the surveys, got 55.3 percent, landing her in the first to second places.
San Juan City Rep. JV Estrada of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) shed the biggest points in the Pulse Asia survey that found 15 probable winners in the senatorial race if elections were held between March 16 and March 20.
Estrada lost 5.2 percentage points from 43.8 percent in February to 38.6 percent in the recent survey. He slipped from fourth to ninth places to fourth to 12th places.
“The latest survey result is both humbling and inspiring for someone like me who is seeking the people’s votes,” Escudero said in a text message.
“I am thankful for the continued confidence of our people. It is a driving force for us to continue working even harder to deserve the trust and confidence of the people. But as I have always said, ‘at the end of the day, what will really matter is the vote of the people come Election Day,’” he added.
The non-commissioned survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,800 registered voters nationwide and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percentage points at the 95-percent level.
Compared with the Feb. 24 to 28 survey, no new name broke into the list of probable winners in the March poll, which listed nine Team PNoy candidates and six UNA candidates with a statistical chance of winning a seat.
Those who slipped from their previous survey ratings included Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (Liberal Party/Team PNoy), minus 4.6 percentage points; Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile Jr. (NPC/UNA), minus 4.2 percentage points; and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (Nacionalista Party/Team PNoy), minus 4.1 percentage points.
Former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar (NP/Team PNoy) lost 3.2 percentage points.
Reelectionist Senators Koko Pimentel (PDP Laban/Team PNoy) and Antonio Trillanes (NP/Team PNoy) emerged as the only gainers on the list, both registering a 1.6-percentage point increase from their previous ratings.
Pimentel got 41.7 percent (from 40.1 percent) and landed in fourth to 10th places (from fourth to 12th places). Trillanes got 37.7 percent (from 36.1 percent) and moved up to 4th to 12th places (from ninth to 15th places).
Cayetano (48.7 percent) landed in second to third places, while former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe (Team PNoy, 42.1 percent) tied with Pimentel in fourth to 10th places.
Both in fourth to 11th places were Villar (40.8 percent) and UNA deputy secretary general Nancy Binay (39.6 percent).
Aquino (38.6 percent) landed in fourth to 12th places along with Estrada and Trillanes.
Average of 8 preferred bets
Completing the list were Sen. Gringo Honasan (UNA), 36.8 percent, sixth to 14th places), Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP/Team PNoy, 34.6 percent, eighth to 15th places), former Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri (UNA, 32.5 percent, 11th to 16th places), Enrile (32.4 percent, 11th to 16th places) and former Sen. Richard Gordon (UNA, 30.7 percent, 12th to 17th places).
Registered voters are identifying an average of eight of their preferred senatorial candidates, Pulse Asia said.
The pollster added that nearly four in every 10 Filipino voters, or 39 percent, had come up with a complete slate for the May 13 elections.
At the time of the survey, among the news and issues dominating the headlines were the hostilities in Sabah involving the members of the Sulu sultanate and Malaysian military forces, the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the implementation of the reproductive health law, the suicide of a University of the Philippines Manila student and the election of Pope Francis in the Vatican. Reports by Lawrence de Guzman of Inquirer Research and Norman Bordadora