'Disappointed' Duterte supporters won't automatically pick Poe: analysts

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Supporters of leading presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte will not automatically settle for Sen. Grace Poe in case of a fallout from his controversial rape remarks, a pollster said Thursday.

Poe was the top choice of voters if their original choice dropped outof the race, based on the latest ABS-CBN survey conducted by PulseAsia from April 5 to 10. The neophyte senator stood to get 40 percent of Duterte’s votes.

Duterte topped the survey with 32 percent followed by Poe who got 25 percent. Vice President Jejomar Binay and administration candidate Mar Roxas were statistically tied for third place.

Ronald Holmes, president of Pulse Asia Research Inc., noted that thesurvey did not yet capture public outrage over Duterte’s comments on an Australian missionary gang-raped and killed in a prison riot in1989.

“That may or may not lead toward a withdrawal of support from hisvoters,” he told ABS-CBN News.

“If it does, if you work with second choice preferences in the past,then you can say that a plurality of Duterte supporters will go forSenator Poe. But that’s not automatic.”

Holmes said voter preference could change two weeks from now depending on how “these candidates present themselves at that point in time.”

Peter Laviña, Duterte's campaign spokesman, said other candidateswould likely confront the mayor on his rape comments during thepresidential town hall to be hosted by ABS-CBN on Sunday.

Laviña said Duterte would be “very friendly” and “humorous” like hewas during the previous debates. “Bash Duterte is the flavor of theweek, but of course, Rody can handle himself,” he said.

Holmes cautioned candidates against attacking each other on thecampaign trail, saying the job would be better left to theirspokesmen.

He cited a Pulse Asia survey showing that around 70 percent of voters would reject a candidate “damaging the reputation of his opponent.”

“Attacking their opponents may repel voters,” he said. “It is best todo it in an open way, to do it face to face, and to put the opponenton the spot, but in a way that is not abrasive.