Poe is the median voter's choice: analyst

Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Among all the five presidential candidates in this year's elections, Senator Grace Poe seems to be the choice of the median voter, a political analyst said Wednesday.

Speaking to radio dzMM, Dr. Aries Arugay of the University of the Philippines (UP) Department of Political Science explained why he thinks Poe has been consistently topping pre-election surveys.

The latest Pulse Asia survey, commissioned by ABS-CBN and conducted from February 16 to 27, showed 26% of the 5,200 respondents saying they would vote for Poe if the elections were held at that time.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, who got 24% voter support, was in a statistical tie with Poe. The opposition standard bearer was followed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with 22%, Liberal Party (LP) candidate Mar Roxas with 19%, and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago with a far 3%.

With 29% of the respondents, Poe would also be the voters' second choice for president if Binay, Duterte, Roxas, or Santiago were to drop out of the race for whatever reason.

READ: Grace , Binay hold on to shared lead: Pulse Asia

"Sa teorya kasi sa political science, may tinatawag na median voter. At karamihan ng mga kandidato, kung ano ‘yung posisyon ng median voter sa mga issues, ‘yun dapat ‘yung posisyon nila. Kasi ‘yun ang magpapanalo eh," Arugay said.

"Ito ‘yung parang nasa gitna... Meron kang extremes. Saan nagco-converge yung preferences ng mga botante?"

According to Arugay, Poe has so far been able to effectively communicate in her campaign messages and political advertisements that she intends to keep a "healthy balance" between change and continuity.

Arugay stressed that while Poe has been advocating for change, the independent presidential candidate has also been acknowledging the reforms the Aquino administration has done for the country.

"I think si Grace Poe combines both change and continuity, kasi may sinasabi siya may babaguhin siya, ngunit nakadikit din siya dito sa Daang Matuwid," Arugay explained.

"And also, I think of all the candidates, ‘yung mga Pilipino talagang sides on a candidate na walang bahid, walang extreme positions-- moderate, in the sense that there is something to be continued on the current state of affairs ngunit may kailangang baguhin.

"Sa tingin ko, ‘yung mensahe na pinapahatid ni Grace Poe-- kasi on the other hand, gusto niyang i-address yung traffic, services, but at the same time, you hear her saying na open siyang i-appoint si President Aquino to a position-- so merong both sides eh," he added.

He also said that voters have yet to see a bad streak in Poe, who is relatively new in the world of politics compared to her more seasoned opponents.

"Because we don't have enough information to cast an overall judgment... Kahit may uncertainty, pero alam natin na she doesn't have the bad qualities, or the qualities that we don't want in a leader."

Timeline: Grace Poe's Supreme Court battle 

Arugay said that with the Supreme Court (SC) decision reversing Poe's disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which effectively says that she is a viable candidate for the presidency, he expects the senator's survey numbers to improve further.

"I think in terms of the doubt on whether Grace Poe is still running for president, medyo siguro liliit at liliit na ‘yun near to zero," he said.