Pulse: Digong widens lead over Grace
THE CAMP of presidential candidate Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is “humbled” by the results of a Pulse Asia survey showing him enjoying a 12-point lead over his nearest rival less than a month before the May elections.
“[T]he continuing rise of Duterte in the surveys [came] in spite of all garbage thrown on him,” Peter Laviña, spokesperson for the Davao City mayor, said in a text message.
But the camp of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas dismissed the ascent of Duterte in the latest Pulse Asia survey, saying the polling did not yet reflect the full impact of his scandalous “rape joke.”
“Definitely. The latest survey does not yet capture the effect of the ‘rape joke,’ which will likely be substantial,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said, referring to the controversy spawned by Duterte’s remarks about the rape of an Australian woman.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said “questionable surveys” did not reflect what he was seeing on the field, which, according to him, was the “reality.”
Binay said it could not be denied that he had a strong core group, which remained intact, “especially in the coming days.”
The survey, conducted from April 12 to 17, showed 34 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for Duterte, up 2 points from the April 5-10 survey. Poe received 22 percent, down 3 points.
Binay dropped 1 point to 19 percent, while Roxas was steady at 18 percent.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago was last with 2 percent, but up by 1 point.
Pulse interviewed 4,000 respondents nationwide and used a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.5 percentage points.
No. 1 in all classes
Ahead in all socioeconomic classes, Duterte got close to half of the votes of the upper and middle classes. In Mindanao, he enjoyed an almost insurmountable lead. (See table on this page.)
Laviña said Duterte’s rise was proof that Filipinos across all classes were clamoring for genuine change.
“This 12-point lead inspires us to work even harder to frustrate the last-ditch efforts by the ‘trapos’ (traditional politicians) to stop the advance and victory of our people,” said Duterte’s spokesperson.
The results of the survey, which ABS-CBN commissioned, were released hours before the third and final presidential debate in Pangasinan.
Poe camp not worried
The camp of Poe tried to put on a brave face in light of the most recent Pulse Asia survey showing Duterte widening his lead.
“We are not worried,” Poe’s spokesperson Rex Gatchalian said in a text message.
The senator will intensify her campaign in the remaining two weeks and focus on telling people about her plans for the government, Gatchalian said.
“We are in firm belief that our advocacies of fighting poverty and unemployment will carry us through,” he said.
Poe’s camp said it would continue to use the survey results to plan its strategy in the remaining days before voters go to the polls.
Poe has dropped to second place in the most recent surveys. Since then, she has increased her focus on discussions about peace and order and resolving crime, two topics that Duterte has made the focus of his campaign message.
She has also brought out popular TV actor Coco Martin, who joined her recent sorties.
Late surge, machinery
Though Roxas’ numbers appeared to be stagnant, Gutierrez said: “We are optimistic that Mar will make a late surge and our machinery will give him the win.”
Gutierrez said he believed Duterte’s popularity among voters had been irreversibly tarnished by the rape joke.
“The man behind the image has been exposed and I expect many will take a second, harder look at him,” he said.
“This may be the high water mark for the mayor. The other interesting fact is that Poe and Binay are dropping, while Mar’s support remains steady,” he added.
Backlash not covered
The Pulse Asia research director, Ana Tabunda, noted that the national print media carried stories on the viral video clip of Duterte making his joke on April 18.
“Television may have reported the rape joke a day ahead but that was a Sunday and the last day of field work,” Tabunda said.
A political scientist expected Duterte’s rating to go down in the next survey, “a possible result of his series of fumbles.”
Since last week, Duterte has been under fire after he joked about Australian lay worker Jacqueline Hamill, who had been gang-raped in the 1989 jail riot in Davao City.
He then dared the United States and Australia to cut diplomatic ties with the Philippines if he became President after their ambassadors criticized his rape joke.
Days later, Duterte said in jest he had wanted to tell a classmate who was suffering from disability due to stroke to just kill himself, even suggesting that the classmate could use a barber’s shaving razor to cut his throat.
Strength also weakness
“Duterte’s strength is also his weakness,” said Edmund Tayao, a political science professor at University of Santo Tomas.
“We have yet to really find if the people have changed their mind. Most likely there will be some voters who will be put off by his comments,” Tayao said.
Duterte got wide support in Mindanao (61 percent) and Metro Manila (43 percent). He was also the top choice in all socioeconomic classes—47 percent in Classes ABC, 33 percent in Class D and 34 in Class E.
In Luzon outside Metro Manila, the leading candidate was Poe (30 percent), while Roxas was No. 1 (34 percent) in the Visayas.
Holmes expected the numbers to change. He said that the survey captured the disposition of the voters only at the time it was conducted and that it was not predictive of how they would actually vote.
Tayao noted that Duterte’s numbers in vote-rich Metro Manila could still move up or down because many “soft voters” were in the metropolis. Soft voters are those who decide on whom to vote for based on what they read, hear or see on media.
Metro Manila has about 6 million of the 54 million who are eligible to vote on May 9.
“Metro Manila can still change. That’s why it’s still going down to be a close race,” Tayao said.
At a news conference in Dagupan City hours before he attended the last presidential debate, Binay remained convinced that he would win the presidential race.
“You know we are repeating history and I’m referring to our experience in 2010,” he said in reference to the vice presidential race which he was able to win over the front-runner then, Roxas.
“So just watch out. This will confirm that Jojo Binay will win in the coming elections,” Binay said. With reports from Niña P. Calleja, Leila B. Salaverria and Nestor Corrales, Inquirer.Net
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