Senator Benigno Aquino III, The Liberal Party’s standard bearer, has pulled ahead of his Nacionalista rival, Senator Manuel Villar. Jr., taking a 13-point lead in the latest survey by the Manila Standard.

The survey which asked 2,500 registered voters to cast ballots for their presidential, vice presidential and senatorial choices, was conducted from March 21 to 23, and had a margin of error of two percentage points.

Support for Villar is in the downtrend in urban areas, specifically in the National Capital Region where he lost seven points, while Aquino added eight more points, said Pedro Laylo, resident pollster at the Manila Standard, comparing a similar survey conducted last month.

Nationwide, Aquino racked 39 percent of the vote in the March poll against Villar’s 26 percent. In the February 20 to 26 survey of the Manila Standard, Aquino obtained 34 percent against Villar’s 32 percent.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada was the choice of 17 percent of the respondents, picking up one percentage point since last month’s survey, while administration standard bearer Gilberto Teodoro Jr. maintained his 6-percent rating.

Senator Richard Gordon and evangelist Eddie Villanueva obtained 2 percent each, while other presidential candidates scored less than 1 percent.

About 5 percent of the respondents said they were still undecided as to who they would vote for in the May 10 elections.

In North and Central Luzon, Villar’s nine-point lead in the February survey was trimmed to only three percentage points.

Aquino also regained in impressive lead in South Luzon and the Bicol region, where he vaulted from Villar 42 percent to 21 percent.

The son of the late President Aquino also posted a nine-point gain in the Visayas to 49 percent, while Villar has lost 8 points to garner only 27 percent in the region. “By economic class, there is now a considerable 22-point difference between Aquino and Villar among the upper and middle classes,” Laylo said. Among the upper and middle classes, Aquino led Villar 41 percent to 19 percent.

Among the very poor, Aquino held a 12-point lead over Villar , or 39 percent to 27 percent. Estrada, whose support is strongest in this class, garnered only 21 percent in the latest Manila Standard survey. By age group, Aquino continues to enjoy a slight lead among those aged 18 to 24. Villar lost his slight lead among those in the 25 to 34 age bracket and dipped nine points, giving Aquino a 15-point advantage. Aquino also widened his lead among the 35- to 44-year-olds. Among those 45 and older, Aquino had a seven-point jump while Villar went down by six points.

Tables Aquino pulls away from Villar 0310-RP

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