Duterte a wild card in 2016 polls: analyst

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte could prove to be the wild card in the 2016 presidential race even as two of his rivals show a solid base of voter support months before Election Day, a political analyst said Monday.

Edmund S. Tayao, political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said pre-election surveys are showing that Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe have a solid base of supporters among voters.

"May base support na si Grace [Poe] and VP Binay, hindi sila bumababa ng 20 percent," he told radio DZMM.

On the other hand, he said he does not see a trend of one candidate running away with the lead over the others since the numbers keep changing.

"Wala ka pang nakikitang trend dahil nagbabago pa. You cannot say whose support is eroded by who, like some supporters of VP Binay shifted to Grace or Duterte...," he said.

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted last February 5 to 7 shows Binay's lead in the presidential race slipping from 31 percent in January to 29 percent in February.

Given the plus/minus 3% margin of error, this places him in a statistical tie with Duterte and Poe, who both had 24 percent voter support in early February. Duterte's numbers improved by four percentage points in the latest survey, while Poe's numbers remained the same.

READ: Binay lead slips; Chiz, Marcos tied in VP race: SWS

Former DILG chief Mar Roxas' numbers slipped in the latest survey, from 21 percent voter support in January to 18 percent in February. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's rating was stable, from 3 percent to 4 percent during the survey period.

In the interview, Tayao described Duterte as the "wild card" of the elections despite losing some voter support for his controversial statements.

"Pwede nating sabihin na wild card si Mayor Duterte. Meaning kumbaga alternative siya palagi kung halimbawang magbago ng sentimyento ang mga botante sa ganitong kandidato, pwede mapunta kay Mayor Duterte," he said.

One aspect of Duterte's campaign that needs correcting, he said, is the mayor's penchant for cursing.

He said that while people in Davao City and Mindanao are used to Duterte's colorful language, voters in other parts of the country might not be as ready to dismiss it.

"Mapapansin mo, hindi na nabalik kay Mayor Duterte yung mga nawalang numbers sa kanya before. You could assume that this was probably, had something to do with not only the messaging on the part of the camp of Mayor Duterte but the way the message is also being delivered," he said.

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Tayao said it will be difficult for Roxas to increase his numbers in the pre-election surveys at this point.

He added that the word war between Roxas and Duterte over personal issues does not seem to working for Roxas.

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"May pinagmulan yan...Ang theory nila, if they are able to neutralize Mayor Duterte, the numbers of Mayor Duterte will go to them pero hindi pa natin napatunayan yan," he said.

He also pointed out that no administration candidate has won in the National Capital Region since 1965, which spells trouble for both Roxas and Binay while being good news for Poe, Duterte and Santiago.

Tayao said Binay's decision to campaign heavily on the ground, especially in a tight race for the presidency, will be a factor in the coming elections.

"Yung patingi-tingi na boto, malaking factor yun."


Meanwhile, Tayao said he is not surprised that Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is now tied with Senator Francis Escudero in the vice-presidential race. Both candidates now have 26% voter support in the latest SWS survey.

According to Tayao, Marcos' campaign is covering all grounds while Escudero was almost silent before the official start of the nationwide electoral campaign last February 9.

"Senator Marcos is pretty much everywhere. I barely remember the last time that I must have heard or read about Senator Chiz, not to mention that we know for a fact that Senator Marcos has been vigorously going around the country. Senator Chiz ngayon lang umikot," he said.

The analyst said Escudero did the same thing during the last senatorial election, relying more on campaign ads instead of engaging in a ground war.


Marcos, meanwhile, attributed his latest showing in the survey to the campaign message he is preaching.

"The message of unity that I try to bring to the campaign is something na tinatanggap naman ng ating mga kababayan," he told reporters. "Kahit sino makikita nila yan ang pangangailangan ngayon, ang pagkakaisa."

Marcos said the people have had enough of governments that are divisive rather that unifying. He added that he sees no need to change strategies to edge out his opponents.

"We seem to be moving in the right direction," he said.

"Meron din tayo matutunan sa mga survey, nagbibigay ito ng kaunting gabay. Paiba-iba din kasi ang resulta. Hindi ko masyadong tinitingnan ang survey, basta ako patuloy ang pagsisikap sa aking kampanya." With a report by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News