MANILA (4th UPDATE) -- Reelectionist Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe shared the top spot in a voter preference survey released Tuesday, which saw former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino out of the likely winner's circle.
Out of 1,800 adults polled by Pulse Asia, 51.7 percent said they would vote for Villar while 50.5 percent said they would support Poe.
Poe, the sole topnotcher in previous surveys, is the only independent candidate among 14 bets who have "a statistical chance of winning," said Pulse Asia.
Preference for Poe dropped by 22-percentage points from Pulse Asia's March 23-27 survey.
Villar, meanwhile, is endorsed by the administration-backed Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which has 9 other candidates in the likely winner's circle, said the pollster.
TOLENTINO, ROXAS SLIPPING
Roxas, an opposition candidate, landed at the 14th to 17th spot, with a voter preference rating of 24.5 percent.
In the previous March 23 to 27 poll, the Liberal Party stalwart ranked 11th to 17th, backed by 31.3 percent of respondents.
Support for Roxas fell by 7-percentage points from the March survey to April 10-14.
Tolentino, fielded by the PDP-Laban chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, placed 10th to 16th in the previous survey, but slipped to the 15th to 17th spots in the latest poll.
Support for Tolentino went down 13 points or from 35.7 percent in March to 22.8 percent in April 10-14.
OLD NAMES STILL ON TOP
"Practically all of the probable winners are current or former members of Congress," noted Pulse Asia.
At the 3rd to 4th spot is action star and former Senator Lito Lapid with a support rating of 45.7 rating, followed by Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, with a voter preference of 43.9 percent.
Political neophyte Bong Go, a former longtime aide of Duterte, placed 4th to 8th, backed by 40.8 of respondents.
Only 2 other newcomers had a "statistical chance of winning" -- former national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, who placed 5th to 9th and 10th to 14th respectively.
Sen. Bam Aquino, meanwhile, was the only LP bet in the winner's circle. He ranked 10th to 14th with a support rating of 28.8 percent.
Former Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada -- both detained for allegedly funneling discretionary funds to bogus organizations -- also made it to the winner's circle.
Also among candidates with a statistical chance of winning are reelectionist Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel and JV Ejercito.
In a statement, Lapid thanked his supporters and said he will continue to travel the country in the remaining days of the campaign period.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga taong sumusuporta sa akin na personal kong pinupunthan, nakakamayan at nayayakap sa aking pag-iikot sa palengke at maging sa mga barangay sa kabukiran," he said.
(I thank my supporters who I personally visit, shake hands with and hug while I go around markets and barangays.)
"Tuloy pa rin ang aking pag-iikot hanggang sa huling sandali na puwedeng puntahan at lapitan ang ating mga kababayan," Lapid added.
(I will continue going around until I can still visit and approach our countrymen.)
FEAR FACTOR IN PLAY, SAYS VETERAN STRATEGIST
With a couple of weeks left before the May 13 polls, it is still possible for Otso Diretso senatorial bets to pull off a surprise win because survey respondents may not be telling the truth out of fear for their safety, said veteran political strategist Aurelio 'Reli' German.
"Ang survey, may chance 'yan na hindi makatotohanan. 'Yung mga sinasabi nila, ng mga sagot nila, maraming mga factors 'yan. Maaring natatakot magsabi ng katotohanan," he told DZMM Teleradyo on Monday.
(In surveys, there is a chance that they don't tell the truth. Their answers are affected by different factors. They may be scared to tell the truth.)
"Sa atmosphere ng politika ngayon, hindi natin alam, baka ma-riding-in-tandem ako kapag sumagot ako ng mali eh... May fear factor. Ang mga tinatanong sa survey, siyempre they want to be sure of their safety," German added.
(The political atmosphere nowadays, we don't know, you might be hit by riding-in-tandem criminals if you give the wrong answer... There is a fear factor. The survey respondents, of course they want to be sure of their safety.)
German also said even those who are included in the "Magic 12" in preelection surveys can never be confident, as the results may still change.
"You can never be kampante... One to six, puwede ka nang maging kampante, pero 7 to 12, mahirap pa rin eh. You can never tell," he said.
(You can never be confident. From one to six, you can be confident, but from 7 to 12, it's still difficult. You can never tell.)
Below is a complete table of the candidates and their rankings:
CHANGE IN METHOD COST CANDIDATES POINTS
Pulse Asia Research Director Ana Maria Tabunda attributed lead changes in the latest survey to the change in their method. Whereas researchers presented a list of candidates in field interviews before, the latest poll used copies of a Commission on Elections ballot.
This led to a drop in voter preference among top candidates, with losses ranging from a low of 1.8 percentage points for Pimentel to as high as 22.1 percentage points for Poe.
Other significant drops were 18.1 for Angara, 14.9 for Go, 12.9 for Tolentino, 9.4 for Marcos, and 9.3 for Binay.
“Before, we had field interviews [where we] presented the respondents with a list. This time, respondents were given copies of the Comelec ballot to shade their preferences and drop it through ballot box,” Tabunda said.
“Mga 10 percent noong sample na walang binotong senador or na-disqualify ‘yung vote, na-invalid ‘yung vote kaya bumaba ngayon 'yung bilang ng voter preference ng bumoboto sa kandidato," she said.
(About 10 percent of the sample did not vote for senators or their votes were disqualified, invalid that's why voter preference fell.)
She said while there may have been “some ease” in choosing from a ballot, where they had to shade their choices out of 62 names, “it’s possible that they are answering out of politeness.”
Some may have also dropped empty ballots.
She said the average number of candidates chosen before was 11 or 12. This figure fell to 8 or 9, especially in Mindanao, where Go has strong following.