MANILA -- At least 5 senatorial candidates each lost significant voters’ support in the latest Pulse Asia survey, in what the polling firm said was the result of its use of facsimile ballots during field work.
Voter preference for Sen. Grace Poe dropped 22.1 percentage points, while Sen. Cynthia Villar lost 12 points in the April survey.
The 2 senators still occupied the first and second spots in a tight race to the top, which an analyst said would have implications on the presidential election 3 years from now.
Top finishers in a senatorial election are usually considered “presidential material,” said Ramon Casiple, executive director of Manila-based think tank Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.
“It pays if you’re on top,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who placed fourth to ninth places, suffered an 18.1-point decrease in his voter preference.
Other candidates also experienced a drop after Pulse Asia’s interviewers sought to “simulate the voting exercise” using facsimiles of the actual ballot, said Ana Tabunda, the polling firm’s research director.
In the March survey, respondents were shown names of all 62 senatorial candidates printed on small cards with large font, she said.
“If they have not seen the ballot before, it could be a problem looking for those names with that small font,” she told ANC’s Early Edition.
Some names might not have been easy to find also because of their location on the ballot, she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s former aide, Christopher "Bong" Go, lost 14.9 percentage points from the March survey, but came in at fourth to eighth places in the latest one.
Another administration candidate, Francis Tolentino, was at 15th to 17th spots, with a 12.9-point drop in voter preference.
Casiple said the decrease in voters’ support for some candidates was not likely caused by unfamiliarity with the facsimile ballots.
“Kung familiar sa’yo yung pangalang Grace Poe, kahit paano iprisinta sa’yo ‘yan, makikita mo,” he said. “When you come across the name, papasok agad sa isip mo.”
(If you are familiar with the name Grace Poe, no mater how it is presented, you will see it. When you come across the name, it will get your attention immediately.)
Tabunda said campaign advertisements might have also affected rankings in the latest survey, citing cases where they opted to “conserve their resources” for the final weeks before the May 13 election.
“There can be surprises, especially since we have a statistical tie up there and we have a very tight race down there,” she said.