Senator Manuel Roxas II's political ads and his televised wedding engagement to ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez pulled him up in the latest Pulse Asia survey, three sources with access to key campaign data and information told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in separate interviews.
The sources, all credible media campaign analysts, asked not to be named because of the key positions they occupy in their organizations.
Roxas's five percent climb in the May 4-17 survey from his eight percent rating last February is seen as a major development since he was the only one who moved up more than the three percent margin of error.
But in the absence of correlation data, the sources said they cannot calculate how much of the increase can be attributed to the ads and to Sanchez.
"The survey captured what they did. They launched 'Padyak' ads and the wedding engagement on a [high]-rating TV show," said one of the sources.
The wedding engagement was announced over ABS-CBN's top-rating noontime show Wowowee on April 25. This was less than two weeks before the Pulse Asia survey was conducted, which means the news was still fresh in the minds of respondents.
Roxas' "Padyak" ads were also aired during the survey period.
"It's a combination of the two," said another source. "She's showbiz." He said Roxas' relationship with Korina has endeared him to the masses, who comprise majority of the voters.
"It was his ad, and maybe the engagement. But a large factor is the ad, I think. It made people realize that he wants to run," said a third source.
The May 2009 Pulse Asia survey showed Roxas, with 13 percent, had caught up with survey frontrunners Vice President Noli De Castro (18%), Senator Francis Escudero (17%), former President Joseph Estrada (15%), and Senator Manuel Villar (14%).
With a three percent plus/minus margin of error, all five are statistically tied at the top spot. De Castro's 18 percent could actually be 15 percent, while Roxas' 13 percent could be 16 percent.
Compared with the February 2009 Pulse Asia survey, De Castro, Estrada, and Villar slid down one percentage point each. Escudero remained at 17 percent.
The biggest loser in the May 2009 Pulse Asia survey was Senator Loren Legarda, who slipped from 12 percent to 7 percent. Senator Panfilo Lacson declined two percentage points from 6 to 4 percent.
One big difference between the February and May surveys of Pulse Asia is the names on the list presented to respondents. In the February survey, respondents chose from nine names. In the May survey, there were 16 names.
In recent weeks, Roxas' camp has been promoting his "Padyak" ads.
In the TV ads, Roxas, who comes from the elite Araneta and Roxas clans, is shown driving a pedicab and telling poor children that he will take care of their future.
Among the five front runners, Roxas and Villar have had the most number of advertisements. All of them, however, have prominently been in the news.
However, the wedding engagement was hard to beat. It was shown on the top-rating show Wowowee, which cornered 21.8 percent of the nationwide audience during its timeslot on weekends, according to the April statistics of TNS Philippines, the local arm of the worldwide research firm TNS Global.
Wowowee was the most popular noontime show in April, according to the same survey.
The engagement was also widely covered by news and entertainment programs not only of ABS-CBN but also of other networks. The two were also interviewed separately about the engagement.
Roxas' climb in the surveys is reminiscent of his performance in the 2004 elections, which he topped with almost 19 million votes.
His success in the 2004 polls was also attributed to his new relationship with Sanchez, plus his famous "Mr. Palengke" ads.
As early as 2003, rumors about their relationship were circulating. On Valentines Day in 2004, or three months before the elections, news reports showed them together in the concert of internationally renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Roxas' camp calculated then that Sanchez had a 40 percent conversion rate. It meant that without Roxas's camp doing anything, four out of ten votes would vote for Roxas because of Sanchez.
Roxas had ranked 22nd in a September 2003 senatorial preference survey. Eight months later, he topped the senatorial polls.
He did even better than TV-movie star Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., who placed second with about 16 million votes.
Roxas's "Mr. Palengke" brand also had a catchy jingle, "Mr. Suave," by Parokya ni Edgar band, which likewise helped in marketing the candidate.
Officially, Roxas spent P69.4 million for his ads in 2004.