By Pedro “Junie” Laylo Jr., Standard Resident Pollster

Surveys are like photographs. They therefore capture only moments in time. But then a picture can express a thousand things. And when placed one after another, it can tell stories. The Standard Poll has captured three snapshots so far on the presidential race – in November 2009, December 2009 and January 2010. With the campaign period about to commence, a story is starting to build up.

Front-runners tied in pre-campaign period

Less than two weeks before the official start of the campaign period, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar – frontrunners in the presidential race — are locked in a statistical dead heat of 36% vs. 34%.

Data by major areas give telltale signs and data by region provide further information. Aquino’s vote shares decreased 10 points with significant declines in Northern/Central Luzon (great drop in Region 3) and in Visayas (huge drop in Region 7). Preference for Villar increased 7 points with considerable increase in Visayas (especially in Region 7).

The Economic Class factor

The Masa economic stratum (Class D) is a whopping 68% nationwide and is a critical voter base. In December 2009, 46% went for Aquino and only 27% were for Villar. Come January 2010, Aquino votes tapered to 37% and Villar’s improved to 34%. When you couple this with Aquino’s eroded base among the upper and middle classes (51% to 38%) and the very poor (45% to 32%) and Villar’s vote increases across the board, a neck-to-neck fight looms.

The Age Group factor

There are also revealing results by age groups. The youth groups with ages ranging from 18 to 34 used to be the turf of Aquino, with 46% and 43% vote shares in December 2009. But this is no longer the situation in January 2010 with only 38% and 35%  going for Aquino in these respective age cohorts. Villar, on the other hand, gathered up votes in these sectors with a significant climb among those aged 18 to 24 from 29% to 41%.

The Core Voters

Analyzing the core vote of the candidates may also help explain the statistical draw between Aquino and Villar. Aquino suffered a decline in core voters from 24% in December 2009 down to 17% in January 2010, while Villar had a slight increase of core voters from 14% to 17%. Total votes up for grabs has also increased to 53% this January 2010 from 48% last December 2009.

Reaching out to voters

There was also a significant movement on what voters perceive as the most effectual means to reach out and convince them. News about candidates aired on TV, TV commercials/ advertisements and stories of personal visits in their place of residence are still considered as the top means to make them aware of candidate’s positions and advocacies. The candidate’s participation in discussions and debates however showed an uptick nationwide from 28% in December 2009 to 33% in January 2010. Increases in preference for debates and discussions among candidates are most evident in NCR, Visayas and Mindanao.

Slogans of Presidentiables

The January 2010 Standard poll also tested for resonance of some of the slogans of the candidates for president. Results reveal that all of the slogans tested for are well-liked by voters. What is noteworthy about the results is that when the degree of liking a slogan is ranked according to percentage of voters saying they like the slogan, “Sipag at Tiyaga” tops the list. “Tunay at Tapat na Nagmamahal sa Masang Pilipino” ranks second. In third to fifth place are: “Galing at Talino”, “Pagbabagong Kailangan sa ating Bagumbayan” and “Tanggalin ang Tiwali. Itama ang Mali. Laban na Tapat. Laban ng Lahat”. Last place is held by the slogan” Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino”.

Issues Raised Against Specific Presidentiables

Some of the current issues hounding some of the Presidentiables were looked into in the January 2010 Poll. Respondents were asked whether they perceive a presidential candidate should not be voted for or should still be voted for given specific issues raised against them, without naming any names.

When the percent saying “should no longer vote for this candidate” is ranked from highest to lowest, the following are in the top 5, in this order: 1. “If allegedly involved in murder”, 2. “If being labeled as “autistic”, 3-4. “If reported to be allegedly involved in anomalous projects”, 3-4. “If reported as having mistress or mistresses”, 5. “If had been charged in court before”.

Tabulated against voter preferences, currently the issues do not appear to make any dents or changes in vote shares and rankings. As of now, voters may say one should no longer vote for such a candidate but actual vote for those candidates are still not affected. We have yet to see what will happen as the campaign period takes off in the weeks ahead.

In the coming weeks and months, the changing landscape of the 2010 presidential race will unfold and the Manila Standard Today Poll will be there taking photographs.

The results of the Manila Standard Today Poll and The Laylo Report can be accessed in the web at https://mstpoll.wordpress.com. Questions, comments can be sent via email to mstpoll@gmail.com.


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