Too late to change voters' minds amid Duterte lead, says analyst

Magno Ardenia, ABS-CBN News

Despite the backlash over his controversial remarks and allegations of misdeclared funds, presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte was able to keep his lead in pre-election surveys because it was "too late" for some voters to change their minds, an analyst said Friday.

"By this time many people had already made up their mind, the issues are too late, they won’t affect," said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform said on Mornings @ ANC.

All the latest surveys--- BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations' May 1 to 3 survey, the ABS-CBN commissioned Pulse Asia's April 26 to 29 survey and the final Laylo survey conducted for The Standard--- reveal a more than 30 percent rating for Duterte and around 10 percent lead against closest rivals, Senator Grace Poe and administration bet Mar Roxas.

Casiple also emphasized that the movement for Duterte, who is regarded as the face of the people's protest, has already been established.

“The second factor of course is that Mayor Duterte is an unconditional candidate, he does not go through the usual organizing of voters or so on, it’s a movement, what we call now the 'Duterte phenomenon,' is basically people using him as the face of their protest, of their frustration, in a sense it’s a negative vote and you cannot go against it, meaning it’s better in fact to go for positive campaign if there is no issue involved but I think there’s a big issue here, it’s a rejection of the performance of the last administration,” he said.

He added that Duterte's "soft" supporters may still change their minds but the numbers are not as significant.

“If you’re talking about soft votes, maybe, but it’s only a very small number right now, people have started making their decisions,” he said.

COALESCE OR LOSE

Casiple said Duterte's closest rivals can narrow the gap, either by coalescence or by forming big bloc votes.

"I think the more effective way is to basically talk to each other if they can have one candidate, that's possible, or else have big bloc of votes represented by key politicians," he said.

“This is really a question between actual political death and possibly surviving this particular episode and then trying to get stronger later, meaning you surrender now, you give up now for a stronger positioning later, and that means you go for compromises.”

He said if someone would have to give way between Poe and Roxas, then it should be Roxas because as the surveys say, Poe tops most voters' second choice for president.

“The key here are the survey showing Grace Poe as the number two choice of all the other candidates… It’s not as simple as a let’s say she says we’ll support Roxas and her votes will go to Roxas, I don’t think so, I suspect it will go to Duterte because it’s a changed candidacy,” he said.

Just this week, two different petitions on website Change.org surfaced urging Roxas and Poe to give way to win over Duterte.

But both the two candidates rejected the proposal.

READ: Poe, Roxas urged to give way to stop Duterte