Grace Poe keeps lead in latest survey
Barely six weeks before the May 9 elections. Sen. Grace Poe appears to have strengthened her position as the front-runner in the race to become the country’s next President.
Poe was the top choice of 28 percent of 4,000 respondents in the latest preelection preference poll conducted by Pulse Asia on March 15 to 20, a week after the Supreme Court ruled she was eligible to run for President.
“Nearly three in 10 Filipino registered voters would elect Sen. Grace Poe as the country’s next President if the May 2016 elections took place during the survey period,” said Ronald Holmes, president of Pulse Asia.
Poe was also the second choice of 29 percent of respondents if their original pick did not pursue his or her presidential candidacy.
Statistically tied at second place are Davao City Mayor and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) standard-bearer Rodrigo Duterte, with 24 percent, and Vice President and United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) bet Jejomar Binay, with 23 percent.
The ruling Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas remained in fourth place at 19 percent, losing a point from an earlier survey, and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago only has 2 percent.
The poll, the results of which were released on Friday, was commissioned by ABS-CBN and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.5 percentage points.
Edmund Tayao, a political science professor at University of Santo Tomas, thinks the race is “still neck and neck.”
“The gap between Poe and Duterte is not yet that big,” he said.
Because of a five-way presidential race, Tayao said the winning candidate will always have less than 50 percent of total votes cast so “breaching 25 percent is really significant already.”
With six weeks remaining before the elections, Tayao said the next opinion surveys will “probably be more telling already.”
“If Poe retains her lead in the next survey and the ranking does not change, that may already be the trend,” he said.
Tayao said the national debates organized by the Commission on Elections have had a significant effect on the candidates’ performance in voter preference polls.
“The debates helped because they forced the candidates to specify their positions on issues. We saw their body language, too. It’s not just a question of being able to mouth substantive positions on key issues but how they respond to attacks on them and to pressure,” he said.
Poe on Friday said the latest poll results would inspire her to work harder.
“This just shows that we need to work hard and there are a lot of heavyweights running,” she told reporters in an ambush interview in Lumban, Laguna, on Friday.
Poe, a foundling found abandandoned in a church as a baby, had faced questions over whether she met the legal requirements to run for the country’s highest office, such as being a natural-born citizen with 10 years residency, but the Supreme Court ruled in her favor on March 8.
Commenting on Duterte’s surge, Poe said she believes people are looking for new leaders and new ways of doing things.
“Maybe that is the reason, but I am not changing my message,” the pressing need to fight poverty and a government free of corruption, she said.
Spokesperson Rex Gatchalian attributed Poe’s improved ratings to her strong debate performance, her visit to as many places in the country as possible, and her drive to communicate her platform to the people.
The Duterte camp yesterday said the latest survey indicated that the Davao City mayor’s campaign was moving in the right direction.
“Both the recent survey results of SWS (Social Weather Stations) and Pulse Asia are indications that everyone is within striking distance. The race is still up for grabs,” said Duterte’s national campaign manager Leoncio Evasco, the mayor of Maribojoc, Bohol.
Evasco said they use the survey results as a guide, whether the ratings show Duterte on top, middle or at the bottom.
“Surveys are guideposts. They are indicators but not really infallible,” he said.
“The presidential race is nearing the finish line and we expect a shake-up in the voter preference as each candidate works hard for victory,” Evasco said.
He noted that Duterte’s numbers improved significantly in Metro Manila which has the biggest concentration of voters.
“Metro Manila and Cebu are battlegrounds and we are happy with our numbers there,” Evasco said.
“But then, there’s still a long way to go,” he said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said he would work even harder to bring his antipoverty platform to the people, according to his campaign spokesperson Rico Quicho.
“We can see that the race is tight. In the coming days, he will work harder to go to the people and lay down his platform to uplift the poor,” said Quicho in a statement.
He said Binay believes that the main issue in the elections is poverty and “only [he] has the proven track record in addressing poverty.”
The ruling LP remained upbeat about the chances of victory for its presidential ticket, with Roxas seeing the race as a close one, and vice presidential bet Leni Robredo pleased about the shrinking gap between her and the two front-runners.
“Our people continue to contemplate, and it remains a close race,” LP coalition spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said in a statement.
Gutierrez said the ruling coalition still believes that Roxas’ core message of building upon President Aquino’s trademark tuwid na daan (or straight path) governance would win over voters in May.
“More and more, Mar Roxas’ message of continuity is being heard. In the last 39 days of the campaign, this message will rise above the mudslinging and fakery unleashed by our rivals,” he said.
As the administration candidate, Roxas has received the brunt of criticism against Mr. Aquino’s policies and his own record in transportation and communications, and as interior secretary.
“In the end, the truth will prevail. We fully trust that the people’s support for Mar and Leni will gain strength, and they will emerge No. 1 in the most important survey of May 9,” Gutierrez said.
Last week, a Pulse Asia survey also commissioned by ABS-CBN showed Poe and Duterte statistically tied at No. 1 with 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively. They were followed by Binay with 22 percent, Roxas with 20 percent and Santiago with 3 percent.
In the latest survey, Pulse Asia noted that if Poe did not continue her presidential bid, her original voters would either shift their support to Binay (25 percent) or Roxas (22 percent).
Similarly, original voters of Duterte would would vote for Poe (33 percent) or Binay (23 percent); Binay’s supporters would pick Poe (39 percent) or Duterte (17 percent) as their second choice; followers of Roxas would shift support to Poe (39 percent) or Binay (15 percent); and the alternative choice of Santiago’s voters would be Poe (28 percent) or Roxas (22 percent).
Across geographical areas, Poe was the preferred President in the rest of Luzon (35 percent), while she and Duterte virtually shared the lead in Metro Manila with 31 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
Roxas, a native of Capiz province, remained the top choice in the Visayas (37 percent) while Duterte retained his dominance in Mindanao (43 percent).
Among socioeconomic groups, Poe and Duterte shared the lead among Classes ABC (30 percent and 32 percent, respectively) and D (27 percent and 25 percent, respectively), while Poe and Binay were virtually tied among Class E (30 percent and 28 percent, respectively).
Registered voters in Metro Manila (30 percent), the Visayas (34 percent) and Mindanao (30 percent) picked Poe as their alternative presidential bet, while those in the rest of Luzon would either pick her as their second choice for President (25 percent) or not vote for an alternative candidate for the post (22 percent).
Poe was the second choice for President among Classes D (29 percent) and E (30 percent). All the five presidential candidates posted virtually the same second-choice voter preferences among Class ABC: Poe (22 percent), Santiago (17 percent), Binay (16 percent), Duterte (15 percent) and Roxas (12 percent).
But 17 percent of those from Class ABC were not likely to support an alternative President in the event that their original pick does not pursue his or her candidacy. With reports from Leila Salaverria, Niña P. Calleja, DJ Yap and Tarra Quismundo