Pulse Asia: Marcos keeps lead, but Robredo narrows gap
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has retained a big lead in the latest survey conducted by Pulse Asia ahead of the May 9 elections, but the rating of Vice President Leni Robredo has picked up significantly across all regions and income classes covered by the opinion poll.
Voter preference for Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late dictator, dropped to 56 percent from 60 percent in the previous Pulse Asia surveys in January and February, while Robredo’s support jumped to 24 percent from 15 percent the month before.
Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan face-to-face survey of 2,400 people was conducted between March 17 and 21, when official campaigning was underway. At least two presidential debates, both of which Marcos Jr. skipped, also took place during the period.
Marcos Jr. and Robredo were trailed by Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (8 percent), Sen. Manny Pacquiao (6 percent) and Sen. Panfilo Lacson (2 percent). Other presidential candidates included in the poll were Faisal Mangondato (1 percent), former presidential spokesperson Ernie Abella (0.1 percent), cardiologist Jose Montemayor Jr. (0.05 percent), labor leader Leody de Guzman (0.02 percent), and Norberto Gonzales who got zero vote.
Marcos Jr.’s running mate, Sara Duterte, daughter of President Duterte, remained the top choice for vice president with 56-percent support, while Senate President Vicente Sotto III was second with 20 percent.
Between February and March, the rating of Marcos Jr. went down in all areas and socioeconomic classes, with the highest decrease recorded in Mindanao (to 62 percent from 68 percent) and among Class E respondents (to 52 percent from 58 percent).
On the other hand, the 24 percent that Robredo got is the highest she registered in any preelection survey from Pulse Asia. The Vice President’s previous high was 20 percent in the Dec. 1-6, 2021, survey. Her numbers then went down to 16 percent during the Jan. 19-24 poll, and to 15 percent during the Feb. 18-23 survey.
Her voting preference in the latest survey went up to 30 percent from 16 percent in Luzon outside of Metro Manila; to 28 percent from 19 percent in Visayas; to 14 percent from 5 percent in Mindanao; to 30 percent from 17 percent among Class C; to 24 percent from 14 percent among Class D, and to 22 percent from 13 percent among Class E.
Among socioeconomic classes, only Classes C, D and E were represented in the latest survey. The exclusion of high-income Classes A and B has no impact on the results because the proportion of the group at less than 1 percent was small, according to Pulse Asia’s Ana Maria Tabunda.
“Also they live in gated subdivisions which do not allow interviewers access. They are also more likely to refuse to be interviewed,” she said in a text message.
Based on Pulse Asia’s socioeconomic demographic estimates, Class ABC represents only 8 percent. Class D makes up the majority at 78 percent while 14 percent belong to Class E. (See survey results for senatorial candidates on Page A6.)
Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, said the Vice President’s 9-point surge in the latest survey reflected the mounting support for her presidential candidacy.
“What we are seeing now is the turning of the tide,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
He pointed out that the survey results actually showed Robredo scoring a 13-point swing as Marcos Jr.’s rating went down by 4 percentage points.
“The survey numbers are starting to reflect what we have been seeing on the ground all along: The massive crowds, the fierce passion, the untiring commitment of Filipinos from all walks of life, coming together to rally behind Leni Robredo’s bid for the presidency,” he said.
Gutierrez said it also showed that Robredo was now enjoying a “momentum” that would “only further intensify and accelerate” in the run-up to the May 9 general elections.
“With the help of our countrymen who are continuing to do the work, knocking on the doors, talking to voters, we will win this,” he added.
While acknowledging Marcos Jr.’s continuing lead, the survey front-runner’s spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, cautioned against complacency among supporters and campaigners with just a month before the May 9 polls.
“We entreat our supporters, volunteers and campaigners to refrain from complacency and remain (focused) in achieving our common target of 70-percent presidential preference mark,” Rodriguez said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We shall not rest until the 70-percent preference survey polls position is attained, until every vote is counted and the aspirations of the Filipino people become a reality,” Rodriguez said.
Reacting to the latest survey, political scientist Aries Arugay of the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Department of Political Science said on Wednesday that Robredo’s crowd-drawing pink rallies and house-to-house campaigns “are now being translated into voter preferences.”
However, Arugay said Robredo would now have to double down on these efforts as the campaign season hits the final stretch.
Among others, he said, the Vice President needed to consider deploying as much as 100,000 campaign volunteers—10 times more than the number of volunteers who joined her grand house-to-house last April 2—nationwide.
“(The fight) needs to be at the barangay level,” Arugay said, noting that studies from other countries have shown that house-to-house campaigns were the most effective.
This also means that presidential candidates Domagoso and Lacson must continue “chipping away at Marcos’ lead” and not withdraw from the race, he added.
“At this point in time, given the numbers, withdrawal is not sound,” Arugay pointed out. “You’re not sure whether their base is the same as Robredo’s. You might end up bumping up Marcos’ base instead.”
He said he expected future surveys would reveal a bigger bump in Robredo’s numbers, especially since the March 17-21 survey has yet to capture the P203-billion estate tax issue against the Marcoses as well as the intensifying fieldwork by the Robredo campaign team.
On the estate tax issue, Arugay said Robredo, Domagoso, and Lacson all stood to gain from it, but even more importantly, it was crucial that Domagoso, and not Robredo, was the one who raised the issue.
“This is still, after all, negative campaigning,” Arugay noted. “It’s important that it did not come from her because Filipino culture still tends to look down on those who do this.”
—WITH A REPORT FROM REUTERS
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