Duterte boosts lead in new ABS-CBN survey

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

12 points ahead over Grace Poe as support for her dips

Duterte boosts lead in new ABS-CBN survey 1
Leading presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. File Photo

MANILA (UPDATED) - Tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte boosted his lead from his closest election rivals in the latest ABS-CBN survey by Pulse Asia taken 3 weeks before the May 9 presidential elections.

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The poll was conducted from April 12-17 nationwide on a sample size of 4,000 respondents and an error margin of +/-1.5.

Nationwide, 34% picked Duterte, 12 points ahead of closest rival Senator Grace Poe, who was picked by 22%. Duterte led Poe by 7 points in the April 5-10 survey of ABS-CBN by Pulse Asia.

Poe was followed closely by Vice President Jejomar Binay who was picked by 19%. Administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas was close behind at 18% with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago closing the list at 2%.

A total of 450 respondents were polled in the National Capital Region (NCR) from April 12-17 with an error margin of +/-4.6. In Balance Luzon, 925 were polled in North and Central Luzon from April 12-17 with an error margin of +/-3.2, while 875 were polled in Southern Luzon from April 12-16 with an error margin of +/-3.3.

A total of 850 were polled in the Visayas from April 12-16 with an error margin of 3.4, while 900 were polled in Mindanao from April 12-16 with an error margin of +/-3.3.

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Duterte polled almost twice as Poe in NCR, 43 pct vs 22 pct, with Binay at 19 and Roxas at 11. Poe and Binay shared the lead in Balance Luzon , 30 vs 26, with Duterte doing better than Roxas, 20 vs 14.

Roxas no longer has solo domination of the Visayas as he now shares the lead there with Duterte, 34 vs 28 (+/-3.4 error margin).

Duterte’s home base of Mindanao is clearly his with 61% score, almost 4 times the score of closest competitor Roxas.

Duterte now has solo lead across all social classes. Duterte polled 47% in Class ABC—around thrice the scores of his closest rivals, 33% in the biggest voting bloc class D—10 points ahead of closest rival Senator Poe at 23%, and 34% in Class E—11 points ahead of Poe who scored 23%.

Compared to the last survey, Duterte gained 2 points while Poe and Binay shed 3 points and 1 point, respectively. Roxas’ number did not move.

Poe remains the top second choice of voters.

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The survey was conducted before Duterte’s controversial rape “joke” and statements against the United States and Australia gained a lot of media coverage. The controversial rape remark was said on April 12 but did not get much media attention till April 17, a Sunday. The comments against Australia and the US came after the survey.

Duterte lost points after he cursed Pope Francis last year. He later apologized.

Pulse Asia Research Director Ana Tabunda said “the figures for president and VP [vice president] can still change depending on subsequent events. Needless to say, they can stay the same. The rape joke and controversial statements [of Duterte] regarding the US and Australia are probably not yet factored in because the news on these in national newspapers appeared on the April 18th onward. TV may have reported rape joke a day ahead but that was a Sunday and the last day of field work.”

Tabunda added, “Difficult to say if the impact of the rape joke is the same as cursing of the Pope. The rape joke is not as clearly wrong as cursing the Pope. Some voters might think it was just a joke. We will know if Duterte is pulling away if his numbers in subsequent surveys increase further, whatever coverage his controversial statements get and whatever his performance in the [third presidential] debate later.”

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Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes said, “No, the figures do not reflect what may happen on May 9. The rape joke and [Duterte's] statements against the US came out in the papers a day after the field work so they are not factored in. We cannot say what the effect of these on Duterte's vote is until the next survey. Preferences for all positions, including the VP and the senatorial race, show shifts, possibly given campaign strategies and reception of messaging of candidates."

Political analyst Edna Co said, "anything can still change until the so-called hora de peligro," noting that the controversy over Duterte's rape remarks happened after the survey period.

She added: "People should know how to locate surveys. It tells something but not everything."


University of the Philippines (UP) political analyst Ranjit Rye said the new survey "looks like a Duterte surge," but believes the race is still close.

"Three weeks is an eternity in Philippine politics. So much can still happen. The election is tight and still close. So many factors are at play so these are not yet the final numbers. Given the context, it is clear that Duterte has pulled away. He has a solid momentum going forward. This is crucial to have in the last few weeks of a tight contest. This election is for him to loose. Which is why he needs to recalibrate his campaign towards voter mobilization and vote protection. His alliances and their machinery have to be in place. He needs to go beyond singing to his core and to start convincing that segment of the skeptical electorate that he is a statesman capable of policy coherence, of setting up a government, and of taking over. I am certain the message will still be the same but the rhetoric will tone down,"

Rye said the candidates should do well in the third and last Comelec-sanctioned debate to be aired by ABS-CBN on Sunday.

"All the candidates need a strong debate performance. We are in the period of negative campaigning so expect controversy as candidates try to change perception. The Digong joke has had an effect...But at the moment, it looks like a Duterte surge."

De La Salle University (DLSU) Prof. Richard Heydarian said momentum is clearly with the Davao City mayor.

"The latest survey shows that Duterte has further strengthened his stronghold in Mindanao as well as among ABC. Momentum is absolutely with him, and the Duterte support looks more like a movement than just an electoral campaign. Yet, we must wait for the next survey on April 18-23 before we can fully assess the electoral fallout of his rape joke, which may help Poe (strong second preferred candidate) regain some points. At this point though, Duterte seeks to have developed 'anti-fragility'; like a Teflon, he seems to be able to get away with crossing red lines all the time."