Top survey groups acknowledged that they did not foresee Grace Poe occupying the No. 1 spot in the partial unofficial count of votes for senatorial candidates.
“We did not see it. But who did?” Social Weather Stations (SWS) president Mahar Mangahas said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Pulse Asia Research Fellow Ana Maria Tabunda also acknowledged that her group did not expect Poe to be in first place.
“We missed Poe. We also missed the order of all those in the Top 12, although all the names in our final survey are there so far,” Tabunda said in a phone interview.
She added that it was still too early to comment on the partial election results.
Poe, who ranked fifth in the final SWS preelection survey and placed second to seventh in the final Pulse Asia survey, defied expectations as she led the partial unofficial count of election returns with 14.6 million votes as of 4:48 p.m. Tuesday.
The daughter of actor Fernando Poe Jr. and actress Susan Roces dislodged consistent survey topnotcher Sen. Loren Legarda (13.4 million votes) and reelectionists Senators Alan Peter Cayetano (12.67 million votes) and Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero (12.66 million votes).
“It was enough for us to have accurately predicted the 9-3 results even if we did not get their exact rankings,” Mangahas said. He was referring to the nine Team PNoy candidates and to the three United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidates who were in the final SWS preelection survey on May 2 to 3, or a week before the elections.
SWS’s final list of probable 12 winners were Legarda (first), Cayetano (second), Nancy Binay (third to fourth), Escudero (third to fourth), Poe (fifth), San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito (sixth to seventh), former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar (sixth to seventh), Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III (eighth), Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino (ninth), Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (10th to 11th) and reelectionists Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (10th to 11th) and Gregorio Honasan II (12th).
The SWS preelection surveys reflected dramatic rise in rankings of Poe. She ranked 26th to 28th in August 2012 and placed 20th in December 2012. She surged to 10th and 11th places in January 2013 survey, and fifth to sixth in February. She slipped to 10th to 11th places between March and April, only to recover in the May survey in fifth place.
Pulse Asia’s final list of probable winners were Legarda (first to second), Escudero (first to fourth), Cayetano (second to sixth), Poe (second to seventh), Binay (third to eighth), Villar (third to eighth), Aquino (fourth to ninth), Angara (fifth to 10th), Ejercito (seventh to 11th), Pimentel (eighth to 13th), Trillanes (ninth to 14th) and Honasan (10th to 14th).
Except for Poe and Villar, who ranked 10th based on partial results of 4:48 p.m Tuesday, all candidates were well within the Pulse Asia final survey rankings.
“If we go by the partial results, perhaps the discrepancy may be attributed to our sample size. We may also factor in the changes in the decision of the voters,” Tabunda added.
“But I’m withholding my judgment because it is still too early to tell,” she said.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Poe’s lead was unforeseen but being identified as the daughter of a late action star was a major factor.
“This means that the issue during the 2004 elections still lives on,” Casiple said in a phone interview.
“It also helped that Poe got the endorsement of deposed president Joseph Estrada although she is running under the administration’s Team PNoy coalition,” Casiple added.
Earl Parreño of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform noted that Poe’s ranking in the surveys rose when she dropped her surname Llamanzares.
“Image buildup is part of the senatorial elections and I think Poe was able to maximize the image of his father,” Parreño said in a separate phone interview.
According to Parreño, three UNA candidates—Jack Enrile, Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito—also banked on the names of their fathers.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s popularity surged during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, but it slipped when he was criticized about the Senate’s maintenance and other operating expenses.
“When the popularity of the elder Enrile slid, the ranking of Jack also slid. As for Nancy, her father is still popular that is why her ranking is still high,” Parreño said.
SWS and Pulse Asia correctly predicted in the 2010 general elections the Top 12 vote-getters albeit with varying rankings.
Both firms were also accurate in picking the No. 1 candidate—Legarda in the 2007 senatorial elections and Ramon Revilla Jr. in 2010.
In 2007, SWS and Pulse Asia missed Trillanes, whom they ranked 16th and 20th, respectively, in their surveys just before the 2007 elections. Trillanes finished No. 11 in the final count.
Also in the 2007, SWS predicted that Sen. Ralph Recto would be No. 7 while Pulse Asia said he would be No. 9, but he ended up No. 14 in the final results.
Asked what factors could have shaken up the survey results for the May 13 elections, Mangahas declined to give an explanation.
“It’s the campaign managers and political analysts who could give an opinion on what transpired because our data are limited to what our respondents told us at a specific time,” Mangahas said.
He reiterated that the firm had been neutral and nonpartisan in all its preelection surveys.
In his Social Climate column in March, Mangahas said that preelection survey results showed that as in previous campaigns, some changes in the monthly standings of the candidates had happened, indicating that voter preferences were not static.