MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso's support nationwide plunged in the final stretch of the 2022 national elections, according to Pulse Asia's latest pre-election survey released Monday.
Of the 2,400 respondents in the polls conducted April 16-21, four percent said they would vote for Domagoso if the presidential election was held at that time, down by four points from his rating in March and by six points from February.
The latest survey saw him in fourth place among the 10 candidates seeking to replace President Rodrigo Duterte, whose term ends on June 30.
The top three are the following: former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. (56 percent), Vice President Leni Robredo (23 percent), and Sen. Manny Pacquiao (7 percent).
Pre-election surveys can be considered "snapshots of the moment" and reflect the people's sentiments at the time these were conducted, analysts have explained.
The latest Pulse Asia survey period included the day when Domagoso held a press conference with fellow presidential aspirants Sen. Panfilo Lacson and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales to assert that they are not backing out of the race.
The Manila Mayor, in that event, also challenged Robredo to withdraw.
Domagoso's biggest decline was seen in Mindanao where he lost 6 percentage points (from 9 to 3 percent), followed by Visayas where his 7 percent support in March dropped by 5 percentage points.
In Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, Domagoso also lost 2 percentage points each.
The Manila Mayor's support also waned across all social classes, with the biggest hit coming from Class E, his frequent audience in his campaign events nationwide.
Domagoso, who takes pride in his roots as a scavenger in Tondo, lost 6 percentage points among his supporters from Class E, while supporters from Class D also dwindled by 3 percentage points.
Some respondents from classes A, B and C also distanced themselves from him as the recent survey showed that he lost 2 percentage points from these groups.
'EASTER SUNDAY PRESS CON BACKFIRED'
The joint press conference Domagoso's team organized at an upscale Makati hotel on Easter Sunday is to blame for the Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer's waning numbers, said Arjan Aguirre, a political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila University.
"This is obviously connected to the Easter Sunday press con, where he was perceived to have hijacked the discussion and called for Leni's withdrawal," Aguirre told ABS-CBN News Digital.
"It was worsened by his meltdown in the days to come, where he continued to recklessly malign and attack Leni during his interviews," he said.
The April 17 press conference at the Manila Peninsula was supposed to be a show of unity among Domagoso, Lacson and Gonzales, where they all agreed to call for clean elections.
But Gonzales, Lacson, and even Domagoso's own political party were surprised when the latter suddenly called for Robredo to withdraw her candidacy, a feat which her supporters also pulled against Domagoso in October 2021.
Days after the press conference, Domagoso continued his verbal rampage against Robredo and her camp, calling them bullies and liars who allegedly have been poaching supporters from other candidates.
"These post-Holy Week campaign stunts backfired at him because he seemed to appear to have orchestrated the joint press con to push for his campaign," Aguirre said.
"It was an amateurish move. It's like he was ranting about the aggressiveness of his rivals, looking for someone else to blame for his sluggish performance in the campaign."
PULSE ASIA'S NUMBERS 'IMPROBABALE'
The results of Pulse Asia's April pre-election survey are "improbable," said Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel Jr, citing a Tangere survey that supposedly showed Domagoso at second place with 20 percent of support as of April 22.
"I find it (Pulse Asia survey) improbable... Medyo ang layo naman ng 4 and 20. I don't think that's an accurate number," Ramel said.
He also denied that the Easter Sunday press conference could have turned off some of Domagoso's supporters.
"It fired up nga the pace. There were a lot of groups that switched to Mayor Isko [after that] so I don't think that's a result of the Easter press con," said Ramel.
"I believe Mayor Isko will pull a surprise win on May 9," he added.
Domagoso was supposed to have an interview with reporters in Quezon City on Monday afternoon, hours after Pulse Asia's survey was released, but his camp said the engagement had to be canceled due to an "important meeting."
In an interview in Aklan province last week, Domagoso said he remains optimistic he could still pull a surprise win despite his single-digit survey ranking.
The Manila Mayor said he is drawing inspiration from the United States' 1948 presidential election, where President Harry Truman pulled an upset victory against New York Governor Thomas Dewey.
"If we all believe that history repeats itself... Gov. Dewey has been leading the survey for 1 year, even to the point that Chicago Tribune printed the newspaper for tomorrow that Dewey won," Domagoso had said.
"But it turned out na tahimik lang pala yung tao. Kinabukasan, ang nanalo, si Truman," he added.
(But it turned out that the people were just silent. So the next day, it was Truman who won.)
Domagoso noted that in 2019, a pre-election survey showed that he ranked 3rd in Manila's mayoralty race, but defeated political titan and then-incumbent Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada, by getting 51 percent of votes on the actual day of the elections.