'Issues, news may affect voters' preference'

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - News items about candidates, as well as the way they respond to issues, can affect the way voters form their choices, an official of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said on Monday.

Speaking to ANC, SWS Survey Data Library Director Leo Laroza said voters get their information about candidates primarily from news programs and articles.

"From what we know of voters, their main sources of information would still be media, followed by relatives and friends, so voting preferences depend a lot on what they hear from you and how they form their choices. So those are the factors that can change the way they vote, depending on the news that they hear, or depending how specific candidates would react or how they handle certain issues," he said.

"Now that we have the campaign period in full swing, we'll be expecting perhaps some changes. It will all depend on how each candidate will manage their messages," Laroza added.

He said the preference of voters can still change as election day nears.

"At any point, as we approach the elections, voter preference can still change, even if we're just a week away from the elections, the rankings can still change."

The latest BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations pre-election survey conducted from February 5 to 7 showed Binay's lead in the presidential race slipping from 31 percent in January to 29 percent in February. 

On the other hand, Davao City mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte's numbers went up from 20 percent in January to 24 percent in February. He is now tied with Sen. Grace Poe, who retained her 24 percent voter support.

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

Laroza explained that Binay's 29 percent is not "significantly distant" from Poe's 24 percent.

"This 29% is actually not significantly distant from 24 percent. That's the standing right now, but if we look at Binay compared to Mar Roxas, that would be an 11 point advantage now and that's way beyond the plus or minus 3 percent error margin."

"If you just look the events happening between January 10 all the way to February 7, there's a lot of things that happened there that may or may not have affected the voter's preferences but if you just look at the changes from the January results, the biggest gain was for Mayor Duterte, while Mar Roxas lost three points, and Jojo Binay lost two points," Laroza added.

Laroza also said vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos' rise in the survey is notable, as it is the first time Francis "Chiz" Escudero lost the lead.

"Escudero has been the typical leader in the past pre-election surveys, But now, for the first time, he was overtaken by Marcos by less than a percent. We are not sure exactly what could possibly made this sudden gain for Marcos. He had this amazing surge beginning December where he rose from just 19 percent and gained six points by January, and held that position by gaining another point," he said.

The latest survey also showed vice-presidential candidate Marcos tied with Escudero at the top of the vice-presidential race. Both candidates now have 26% voter support in the latest SWS survey.