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Aquino, Villar race tightens

Only 2 pts. separate LP, NP bets


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:31:00 03/10/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Opinion surveys, Benigno Aquino III, Manny Villar, Statistics

MANILA, Philippines?Two months before the May 10 elections, the presidential race may have narrowed down to Senators Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III and Manuel ?Manny? Villar Jr., but nobody has a clear lead yet, a political analyst said Tuesday.

?You may have a lead, but it does not necessarily mean that this will be maintained. But it appears that it?s a one-on-one between the two,? Ramon Casiple said of Aquino and Villar.

In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Aquino of the Liberal Party (LP) and Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP) were neck and neck. Aquino?s running mate Sen. Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II, however, continued to lead the vice presidential race by a wide margin.

Of the 2,100 registered voters SWS polled from Feb. 24 to Feb. 28, Aquino got 36 percent, while Villar stayed close with 34 percent.

The gap falls within the margin of error of 2.2 percentage points used in the survey.

With the margin of error, support for Aquino ranged from a low of 33.8 percent to a high of 38.2 percent, while support for Villar ranged from 31.8 percent to 36.2 percent. The respondents were given ?ballots? that they had to mark in private and deposit in a container brought by the interviewer, according to BusinessWorld.

Other candidates

Trailing the front-runners were deposed President Joseph Estrada (15 percent, up 2 points), former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (6 percent, also up 2 points), Bro. Eddie Villanueva (3 percent, up 1 point), Sen. Richard Gordon (2 percent, no change), Vetellano Acosta (0.4 percent), Nicanor Perlas (0.2 percent), Olongapo Councilor JC de los Reyes (0.1 percent) and Sen. Jamby Madrigal (0.1 percent).

Acosta was disqualified by the Commission on Elections last week.

?[Aquino?s] lead is steadily getting smaller,? Mahar Mangahas, SWS president, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel. ?That?s very clear.?

Not a tie

In the SWS surveys on Dec. 5-10, 2009, and Jan. 21-24, Aquino was ahead of Villar by 19 points and 7 points, respectively.

?We?re saying it?s a 2-point lead [in the latest survey]. We?re not calling it a tie,? Mangahas said. ?To say that it is a tie is to lean toward one side. So we?re not calling it a tie unless it is the exact same point.?

SWS said the 6-point decline in Aquino?s rating since January was due to drops in all four areas across the country: 7 points in the balance of Luzon, 6 in Mindanao, 5 in the Visayas, and 3 in Metro Manila.

Villar ?lost 6 percentage points in Metro Manila, 2 in the balance of Luzon, and one in Mindanao, but picked up 5 in the Visayas to trim his overall slide to just 1 point,? BusinessWorld said.

By socioeconomic class, Aquino was ahead in Class D (38 percent compared with Villar?s 34 percent), while Villar was ahead in Classes ABC (33 percent compared with Aquino?s 30 percent) and Class E (34 percent versus Aquino?s 32 percent).

Vice presidential race

As for the vice presidential race, Roxas remained No. 1 with 45 percent. This was actually a drop of 4 percentage points for Roxas from the January survey, but support for Loren Legarda, Villar?s running mate, remained at 28 percent.

Other vice presidential candidates did not gain substantially. Following Roxas and Legarda were Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (17 percent), former Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando (3 percent), former Optical Media Board chair Edu Manzano (2 percent), broadcaster Jay Sonza (1 percent), former Securities and Exchange Commission chief Perfecto Yasay (0.4 percent), and Dominador Chipeco (0.4 percent).

Wild swings

The most recent Pulse Asia survey, released last week, showed Villar?s 29 percent trailing Aquino?s 36 percent.

The different results of the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys could be an indication of voters? ?wild swings,? said Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.

?There are wild swings among the voters, and there are only a few undecided. They have somebody in mind, but their choice is affected by issues that come out in the media. That?s why the trending is not fixed,? he said in a brief phone interview.

The voters, Casiple said, had a ?deep interest? in the presidential election and were closely monitoring the news coming out in the media about the candidates.

Aquino upbeat

?Their choice is affected by rumors that Villar is a secret candidate of the administration, and the issue of incompetence against the other,? he said.

The presidential race has tightened, but Aquino is upbeat. ?I?m still No. 1, but it doesn?t mean we?re satisfied with that. The tightening race means that we?d just have to redouble our efforts,? he said in a phone interview.

Aquino said remaining ahead of his rivals despite what he called a ?tsunami? of political ad and media spending by Villar was in itself an achievement.

?I think our message is getting to its target audience despite our lack of resources. We just make it up with our campaigns and grassroots volunteers,? said the LP standard-bearer.

LP campaign strategist Florencio ?Butch? Abad Jr. said Villar had failed to overtake Aquino in the surveys despite exceeding the limit on ad spending.

Villar happy

In Davao City, a beaming Villar said: ?We are statistically tied.?

Villar said the presidential contest was still between him and Aquino.

?As for me, I am comfortable with my lead and, of course, we still look to Noynoy (as a close rival) although we respect all the candidates. However, (Estrada?s) distance (or lead) from us is still far,? Villar said.

He said he was happy that ?surveys have confirmed that we are responding to the hopes of the people across the country.?

?During my campaign sorties in the provinces the people have shown that they are supporting our vision to address poverty,? Villar added.

He attributed the rise in his ratings to the frenetic pace of his campaign sorties across the country since Feb. 9.

?Of course, the others who are (trailing in surveys), we expect them to get more points now because of their wider exposure,? Villar said.

Estrada elated

Estrada expressed elation over his rising rating. Told that his performance in the SWS survey wasn?t as good as his showing in Pulse Asia?s poll, Estrada said: ?Whose numbers went down? As far as we are concerned, we are moving up.?

Estrada, who?s running for another term after he was forced out of office in 2001, said that if his numbers continued to go up at the rate they were going, he would have a high-enough rating to win come May.

?It?d be over for them,? Estrada said.? In 1998, I started in third place. It?s hard to be No. 1. It?s more difficult (to start) from the top (and then) going down, isn?t it??

The camp of Teodoro welcomed his slight improvement in rating. ?We?re gaining ground right in time for the presidential elections in May,? said Mike Toledo, spokesperson for Teodoro.

Mind conditioning

Gordon wondered how a small sample of respondents could accurately represent more than 50 million voters across the country.

Gordon warned against the mind-conditioning effects of the surveys.

Madrigal said she did not believe in surveys. ?Unless and until these survey groups clarify who are funding them and what their methodology is, there will always be a cloud of doubt on their accuracy,? she said. Reports from TJ Burgonio, Inquirer Research, Gil Cabacungan, Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora, Christian V. Esguerra, Cathy Yamsuan and Jerry Espalanada



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