'Mar Roxas may not have the X-factor to get voters' preferences'
MANILA - For Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda, there is one major reason why Senator Grace Poe overtook Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to place second -- behind perennial 2016 presidential survey frontrunner Vice President Jejomar Binay.
"Kasi may isang nag-announce na maaari siyang tumakbo bilang bise presidente. Si Grace Poe po nung habang survey namin tumatakbo mga bandang around that time, na-interview si Senator Grace Poe at sinabi niya sa TV na open siya tumakbo bilang bise presidente at ang konteksto noon ay siya ay inaanyayahan ni VP Binay," Tabunda said.
Poe polled 18%, next to Binay's 26% and about thrice of Roxas' 6%. Compared to the surveys of June-July and September, only Poe gained in November.
Binay, while still frontrunner, has been declining--from 41% in June-July to 31% in September to 26% in November.
Roxas was 7% in June-July, went up to 13% in September and slid back to 6% in November. Poe, on the other hand, polled 12% in June-July (2nd place) to 10% in September (4th place).
The survey occurred from November 14-20. On November 13, it was reported that Binay was considering Poe to be his running mate.
Tabunda said Poe took respondents away from Roxas.
"Ano impact niyan kay Secretary Mar?... Yung dating pinipili na si DILG Sec. Mar, maaaring nalipat kay Senator Poe.
"Open na siya (Poe) tatakbo... You've opened the door, a crack," she added.
Roxas gained in the September survey after he started airing regional advertisements in Visayas and Mindanao. He has also been well covered by media in his current position as DILG secretary.
However, for Tabunda, performance does not guarantee success at the surveys or even, the elections.
The survey period also occurred amid the first anniversary of super typhoon "Yolanda," where Roxas was among the frontline responders of the national government.
"May iba kaming data na nagsasabi na iba naman ang performance rating ng isang opisyal sa kanyang voter preference. Totoo na kailangan mahusay performance mo para iboto ka, pero hindi sapat. Kahit gaano ka kahusay, kung hindi ikaw ang may X-factor na tinatawag," Tabunda said.
NO X-FACTOR FOR MAR?
Asked if it was a valid observation, going by the surveys, that Roxas does not seem to have the X-factor, Tabunda replied: "Sa nakararaming botante? Parang. Mahirap man sabihin kasi sayang."
In a text message, political strategist Malou Tiquia also explained Poe's gain.
"I will not characterize Poe as a surge. It is a steady climb and during the period, she was able to contrast with Binay," she said.
In a separate text message, University of the Philippines (UP) political science professor Ranjit Rye also weighed in.
He said, "Grace Poe's surge is impressive as it is also across classes. It appears she may be the biggest beneficiary of Binay's decline. Her ascension could also mean a segment of voters becoming more and more skeptical about traditional elite politics and politicians. More people are seeing her now as an alternative to carry on the reformism narrative of Noy."
As for Roxas' loss, Tiquia thinks, "Yolanda continually hurts him. He is not a goner but what is clear is he has a very thin base."
Rye, meanwhile, said: "Mar's numbers are dismal and disappointing, but it's too early to count him out. Aside from Binay, Mar is the only other person in the survey that has the machinery and funding to run a national campaign, plus the possible support of PNoy and the oligarchs. It's too early to count him out."
UNA: BINAY NOT THREATENED
Roxas ally, Liberal Party (LP) member Rep. Edgar Erice also weighed in Poe's surge in the survey. "Too early to tell. But Sec. Mar is prepared to continue the reforms of tuwid na daan. Sen. Grace is a good material for the future. Let's prepare her. Choosing a president because of a 'hype' will not be good for the country."
The president of Binay's party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, does not see any reason for Binay to be threatened by Poe.
"We shouldn't be. Because she already categorically said that she is not ready to run for president," Tiangco said.
Tabunda, meanwhile, explained Binay's continued decline.
"Dahil iyan sa mga alegasyon ng korupsyon laban sa kaniya at maaaring may epekto rin hindi niya pagharap sa Senado. Pero mahirap para sa kaniya yun kasi humarap siya o hindi siya humarap, maaari talaga siyang bumaba or mag-stay, maintain. Pero di natin talaga masasabi," she said.
At this point, she said things can still go either way for Binay. "Yung ganiyang prediksyon na yan nagdedepende iyan ano pang mangyayari sa darating na araw lalo na tungkol diyan sa imbestigasyon ng Senado. Depende kung paano ma-handle yung situation."
The survey occurred at the height of the Senate investigation into corruption allegations against Binay as Makati City mayor.
In 2010, Binay won as vice president on the campaign promise that he will do to the country what he did in steering Makati into one of the Philippines' financial capitals.
Tiquia also weighed in on Binay's drop in the survey. "As I said earlier, if he breaches 25%, then he has a problem."
Rye, for his part, thinks, "I don't think Binay's numbers have bottomed out but data has shown his numbers remain resilient. In the latest survey, there seems to be greater consensus with less undecided. Binay is still the man to beat given his base of support and his network of support among local political families in vote-rich provinces."
Tabunda explained that at this point, Binay is still statistically ahead with an 8-point spread over Poe. The survey has a margin of error of 3% which means that anything less than 7% spread would be a tie.
SIMILAR POLITICAL BASES
Tiquia added Poe and Binay have similar political bases. "The fact that bases of Binay and Poe are almost the same is interesting, save in Visayas where VP faired well than Poe."
Poe fares well in both the presidential and vice presidential survey. In the vice presidential race, she was on top with 33%, followed by Senator Francis Escudero at 20%.
Both Poe and Escudero are allies of the Liberal Party. Both were the special guests in the LP Christmas party at Malacañang last week, as confirmed by House Speaker Sonny Belmonte.
Poe was warmly received in the party. Escudero is known to be a close buddy of President Aquino. Both ran under Team PNoy in the 2013 midterm elections where Poe was topnotcher.
Tiquia added, "The choice for VP looks like a pick between Poe and Escudero. Binay, Poe and Escudero were part of the 2004 team of FPJ and interestingly were the main opposition stalwarts in 2007. Escudero endorsed Binay in 2010."
Tabunda said the May 2016 presidential elections is still 17 months away so things can still change. "Dami pang impormasyon lumalabas. Pinagbubuti ng mga kumakandiato ang pagkakataong manalo."
Still, she advised aspirants to heed the surveys. "Dapat tingnan nila para sa kanilang mga strategy."
Voters, on the other hand, should not pay much attention to the survey, according to Tabunda. "Huwag nila pansinin, kami pumapansin sa kanila," she said.
Tabunda concedes media coverage plays a vital role in survey responses. "Dahil gumagalaw nakikita natin malaki epekto ng media coverage," she said.