Analyst: May 10 polls a 4-cornered race

By Isagani de Castro, Jr., Newsbreak

Posted at Mar 20 2010 04:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2010 03:15 AM

Noynoy, Erap, Gibo, Villar have ‘winning formulas’
 
MANILA, Philippines – The presidential race is down to a 4-cornered fight between Sen. Benigno Aquino III, former President Joseph Estrada, administration bet Gilbert Teodoro, and Sen. Manny Villar, according to a veteran political analyst.
 
This forecast is based on the electoral track records, composite survey ratings, and the political machineries of these four presidential candidates.
 
“It’s basically a 4-cornered fight,” said Tony Gatmaitan, president of the Political Economy Applied Research Foundation, in an interview with Newsbreak.
 
Elaborating on his unpublished presentation for the Philippine Futuristics Society, Gatmaitan said these four candidates can still come up with “winning formulas” in capturing the presidency.
 
In the case of the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer, he said Aquino must establish a big lead in the vote-rich corridor of Pangasinan to Quezon. He must also capture major cities, particularly Cebu, Davao, Naga, Bacolod, and Zamboanga.
 
In addition, his running mate Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, who is from Capiz, and former Sen. Franklin Drilon, who is from Iloilo, must deliver the Western Visayas region (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental) for the Liberal Party ticket.
 
Contrary to what LP officials claim, Gatmaitan believes that support for Aquino is “soft” since it’s “not based on favors.” 
 
“Middle-class support is soft. You don’t depend on money. That’s why after elections, they (supporters) usually disappear,” he said.
 
However, he noted that there is strong volunteerism for Noynoy, which he inherited from his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino. Backed by volunteers and the opposition party UNIDO, Mrs. Aquino almost beat President Ferdinand Marcos in the official count of the 1986 snap presidential elections. People power eventually brought her to power after the fraudulent February polls.
 
Erap has best electoral track record
 
In the case of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) bet Estrada, Gatmaitan noted that the former movie actor has won every election he has entered—mayor in 1967, senator in 1987, vice-president in 1992, and president in 1998.
 
“The arithmetic is simple [for Estrada]: get 70% of provinces who voted for him the last time around in 1998,” he said. “That would be enough to win in 2010.”
 
Gatmaitan said he’s not surprised with the recent recovery of Estrada in the presidential surveys, where he gained 7 percentage points, apparently at the expense of Villar.  (Read: SWS: Aquino, Villar in statistical tie)
 
“Erap has the best electoral track record [among the candidates]. People seem to be ignoring this,” he said. “Electoral track record gives an idea of the pulling power of the candidate in past contests, and is usually a dependable gauge of future performance.”
 
He attributed Estrada’s increase of 9 percentage points in Mindanao in the latest Pulse Asia survey to his hawkish approach to solving the separatist threats, a popular stance to take among the Christian majority in the south. (Read: Erap, not C-5, caused Villar’s survey drop)
 
In contrast, other presidential bets have proposed peace talks and economic development for Muslim Mindanao.  Due to Estrada’s stand, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has rejected his presidential bid. (Read: MILF endorses ‘fatwa’ against Estrada)
 
Unlike the other presidential bets, Estrada has a hard-core and loyal following among the poor in Philippine society who make up the majority of the 50 million voting population.
 
However, Gatmaitan said Estrada’s new handicap is his age. Being the oldest candidate at 72 years old, “he does not click among the young anymore.” He has not won any mock polls in any college or university.
 
Teodoro must capture Solid North
 
In the case of Teodoro, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer, Gatmaitan said that “it’s not too late in the day to stitch together a winning combination,” even if he’s behind Aquino, Villar, and Estrada in the surveys.
 
He said Teodoro must be the “new champion” of the north, and must work hard toward capturing the support of Ilocanos, including the Ilocano-speaking voters in central Luzon.
 
“The Ilocanos will vote for one of their own. Teodoro is the only candidate who speaks the dialect [Ilocano] fluently,” he said.
 
Although Rep. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. is supporting Villar, Gatmaitan said “Villar is not an Ilocano…and he’s just endorsed by the Marcoses.” Thus, Teodoro can still swing the Ilocos region to his side.
 
Aside from doing well in central and northern Luzon, Gatmaitan said the dominant ruling party must deliver for Teodoro in Mindanao. In the 2004 presidential elections, he noted that President Arroyo “covered her losses” in Luzon with “spectacular victories in Visayas and Mindanao.”
 
Among the 4 leading presidential bets, Teodoro is backed the strongest political machinery.
(Read: Sans NPC, NP may not get dominant minority status)
 
“The party machine vote is the most crucial in real politik," he said.
 
‘Villar must aim for good 2nd’

As for the NP standard-bearer, Gatmaitan said the winning formula is to “aim for a good 2nd (place) in most of the provinces, instead of always fighting for first place.” Villar must “conserve his energy and resources to more manageable situations.”
 
In addition to placing 2nd in many areas, Villar must “dominate the smaller provinces where he is strong with organization and smart money.” He said there around 20 of these provinces, such as Camarines Sur, where Villar must dominate.
 
Villar’s edge is his money, which he has used well in political ads. However, Gatmaitan said this advantage has been contained by the limits to ad spending during the 90-day campaign period, which the candidates presumably are following.
 
Just as with Aquino, Gatmaitan said support for Villar is also “soft” since his “image is contrived.” This is why Estrada has been apparently been able to win over a significant number of his supporters, especially in Mindanao.
 
Another weak point is where Villar comes from, Las Piñas, which, Gatmaitan added, is “not a place to rise to national prominence,” given its limited number of voters. To compensate for this weakness, Villar has projected himself as a “Tondo boy” who may become president.
 
As for the rest of the presidential candidates—Sen. Richard Gordon, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Olongapo City councilor JC de los Reyes, and Nicanor Perlas—they either rate too poorly in surveys, have weak or no political machineries, and their electoral track records are not as established as the four leading bets.
 
Gatmaitan was campaign manager of then presidential candidate Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco in the 1992 presidential elections. He was also involved in the Cory Aquino for President Movement in 1985-86 and once worked for then Sen. Gerry Roxas.