Why Duterte is popular among wealthy, middle class voters

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Why Duterte is popular among wealthy, middle class voters 1
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Fernando Sepe, Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA – A political analyst and a member of the academe said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s growing popularity among the nation's wealthy and middle class indicates a war among the country’s elites.

De La Salle University Political Scientist Julio Teehankee pointed out Duterte is outpolling administration standard bearer Mar Roxas in his own social class ABC, proof that this has become a war of the elites.

Teehankee pointed out, Duterte enjoys a mass base of support across all social classes which is why his rise can be characterized as the rise of a new elite.

In the April 19-24 ABS-CBN Survey by Pulse Asia Research, Duterte was picked by 37% of class ABC, way ahead of Roxas’s 23%, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s 16% and Senator Grace Poe’s 12%.

READ: Duterte, Marcos sustain leads in ABS-CBN survey

“Class ABC accounts for an estimated 4-10% of the population. Even if Mar's number improved in this demographic, it is not enough to compete with Duterte's 37%. This is an indication that there is an emerging counter-elite challenging the old elite,'' he said.

''The Duterte phenomenon is elite-driven. It is not the revolt of the poor. It is the angry protest of the new middle class: BPO workers, Uber drivers, and OFWs."

Teehankee noted this is the elite that has been left out by other elites. 

''They are the ones who are taxed the most and financing Daang Matuwid. They are working hard for their families and the country and yet they are the ones who suffer from lack of public service land and air traffic. Breakdown of peace and order corruption, laglag-bala. The poor have their conditional cash transfer fund. The rich have their PPPS. What's there for the middle class? They've been short changed!"

Overall, Duterte polled 33%, followed by Poe who got 22%, Roxas 20%, Binay 18% and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago 2%.

In an immediately preceding ABS-CBN survey from April 12-17, Duterte polled 34%, Poe 22%, Binay 19%, Roxas 18% and Santiago 2%. That’s a 2-point increase for Roxas and 1-point decrease each for Binay and Duterte. However, the margin of error in both surveys is 1.5%.

Teehankee pointed out, Roxas’s numbers remain dismal outside of Visayas, his bailiwick.

“Mar's only bailiwick is the Visayas and his numbers every where else is dismal. Not enough to be competitive,'' he said.

Roxas shares the lead at the Visayas at 37% with Duterte polling 32%. Roxas trails in the National Capital Region (11%), Balance Luzon (15%) and Mindanao (17%).

For the 2016 elections, Visayas accounts for only over 11 million registered voters based on data from the Commission on Elections gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

NCR has 6,253,249 registered voters; Balance Luzon 24,164,541; Visayas 11,316,789; and Mindanao 12,629,265.

Teehankee was among the first to point out in late 2015 that this race will be between Duterte and Poe in the homestretch -- an observation he maintains.

Teehankee noted Binay’s numbers are on the downtrend.

“Binay's numbers are free falling. His last competitive bailiwick is balance of Luzon where he is third."

Binay polled 19% in NCR, 24% in Balance Luzon, 12% in Visayas and 10% in Mindanao.

On the other hand, Teehankee pointed out that Duterte has momentum, while Poe is the top alternative candidate.

Poe is the top alternative candidate in the April 19-24 survey, polling 33% as the top 2nd choice. She is followed by Binay with 16%, Duterte 12%, Roxas 12% and Santiago 6%.

Duterte’s numbers stayed similar despite his controversial remarks on the rape of a female Australian missionary. What remains to be seen now is if the numbers will hold after the exposés on his alleged hidden wealth.

Teehankee said, ''The momentum is definitely on his side. The bank account issue might be too late to stop him. Grace remains to be the second candidate of choice per Pulse Asia."


Vice Presidential candidate Senator Antontio Trillanes IV led the exposé against Duterte, with the other bets joining the fray later on.

READ: Duterte accounts had P2.4-B in transactions: Trillanes

Teehankee said, Duterte may take a hit but should that happen, the beneficiary won't necessarily be Roxas.

“The momentum is definitely on his side. The bank account issue might be too late to stop him. Grace remains to be the second candidate of choice per Pulse Asia. If they have the goods on him it will benefit Grace or Mar. But Grace will have the better chance.”

Poe has so far refused to engage in any negative campaign against her rivals.

Roxas's campaign spokesperson, Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said, ''Only Mar's ratings improved in the latest Pulse - ABS-CBN survey. He is now tied for second place. We were able to reach this point due to the efforts of so many of our fellow Filipinos who remain committed to the dream of a just, prosperous, and decent Philippines. If we add the effects of Mar's call for action in the last debate, the silent majority now actively campaigning for him, the exposé on the secret bank accounts of Mayor Duterte, and the organization of the Daang Matuwid Coalition all over the country, victory on May 9 is now within reach.

''We will win because Mar and Leni continue to stand up for what is right, good, and decent in all of us, and with so many of our fellow Filipinos have come out to stand with them in this struggle.''

Pulse Asia Research President Ronald Holmes, however, said any changes in the national standings in the survey are not significant.

“Within the margin of error ang changes sa national level for all candidates. Check whether margin of error for NCR from survey to survey is lower than change in Digong's rating. When national preferences do not shift significantly, it means voting disposition remains as in previous survey and developments prior to or during the survey period do not have a substantial impact,'' he said.