A credible poll

My favorite pollster, Junie Laylo, has alternately challenged and confirmed what his bigger competitors have been saying in their own surveys of presidential contenders in the coming elections in May, in his latest The Standard Poll. And unlike those from the other, more-established survey companies, the results of Laylo’s polling, his methods and his analysis do not leave me scratching my head in disbelief.

The most telling finding of Laylo’s latest research, the result of 1,500 face-to-face interviews conducted nationwide from Sept. 21 to Oct. 1, is the apparent steady hold of Senator Grace Poe on the lead in the race for the presidency. With 32 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for Poe, the senator has almost double the percentages of her two closest pursuers, Vice President Jejomar Binay (14 percent) and former Secretary Mar Roxas (19 percent).

Elsewhere in today’s newspaper, Laylo also reports that Poe’s running mate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, holds similar sway in the vice presidential sweepstakes. In the hotly contested battle for the second-highest post in the land, Escudero handily wins in his native Bicol region, where presidential candidates have decided to look for running mates with Bicolano roots, in an obvious effort to neutralize the senator’s strength and attract some of that hometown advantage in the traditionally bloc-voting region.

Laylo explains that the survey was taken soon after Poe’s Sept. 14 declaration for the presidency at the University of the Philippines. Even if Poe has been mostly quiet since that time, preferring to issue safe, boilerplate media pronouncements, Laylo says the senator’s obvious charisma, her compelling narrative as a foundling and her relatively clean public image have kept her in the lead—even improving on it substantially—in the survey.

In the last The Standard Poll conducted last May, Poe had a “mere” 24 percent compared to the 28 percent of then-frontrunning Binay and the measly 4 percent of Roxas. The Laylo survey also notes—and confirms —the trend of Roxas’ vastly improving poll numbers and Binay’s continued fall.

In addition to Poe’s acceptability to most voters, according to Laylo, she is also the second choice of nearly all the candidates. This is why, in the third graph that The Standard Poll used, Poe is the beneficiary of the votes of all the other candidates, should they withdraw from the race, he said.

On the other hand, Laylo also said it is telling that Binay, while he is still a statistical tie with Roxas for second, is not the second choice of the people who want all the other candidates apart from the vice president. In other words, and contrary to common perception, Binay may have the most solid base of all—but he loses every time another candidate is added to the mix.

As for Roxas, Laylo believes that the concentration of resources and advertising in the provinces by the administration candidate is working wonders for the third major candidate who used to languish in single digits. Roxas may still be the least-favored major candidate in Metro Manila, but he has made up for that big handicap by using his “endorsement” (however you want to interpret that) in the provinces, where his gains are the most evident.

There are more nuggets of political wisdom that can be mined from Laylo’s latest The Standard Poll and I shall be discussing them in future columns. It’s still early days in the race, after all, and any poll is only a snapshot of the social weather (or the people’s pulse) at a given time.

But I’d rather pore over Laylo’s poll results than those of any other pollster. I see no reason to change in the near future.

* * *

On the same day that Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago declared that she may make another run for the presidency, an administration-friendly news Web site immediately cast doubts on her physical fitness, given that she’s already been stricken with cancer. Maybe it’s just me, but I find this to be a thinly-veiled attempt to dissuade voters from going for Santiago, because of her potential to alter the fragile “health” of Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party candidate.

There’s nothing physically wrong with Roxas, of course. But I think Santiago’s entry into the presidency race would certainly split the Western Visayas (or Ilonggo) vote that the LP bet claims like it is his birthright.

The reason why every major party tried to land a vice presidential candidate from the bloc-voting Bicol region, after all, was—as I’ve already said above—to neutralize Chiz Escudero. And if Miriam (who comes from Iloilo, the biggest of the Ilonggo provinces) runs for President, she would most certainly take away local votes from Mar—perhaps even from his home province of Capiz, where Santiago is also very much admired.

The LP just can’t take some of the same medicine that it tried on Chiz of Sorsogon when it forced Leni Robredo (of Naga City) to run with Mar. Santiago ruins the Roxas narrative of sweeping the Ilonggo vote—which is perhaps why she really should seek the presidency.

Topics: Jojo Robles , Robles , Laylo , poll
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