The Pulse Asia survey on “senatoriables”—field research of which was done from March 23 to 27—has the following names in the top 20: Grace Poe (with 97 percent awareness and 70.8 conversion to votes), Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Koko Pimentel, Serge Osmena, Erwin Tulfo, Lito Lapid, Bato de la Rosa, Jinggoy Estrada, Imee Marcos, Bam Aquino and JV Ejercito, in that order, having statistical chances of winning IF the vote was done on said period last month.
All of them have at least 90-percent awareness level, with varying degrees of conversion to votes. Erwin Tulfo, for instance, has 90-percent awareness compared to General Bato’s 98 percent, but the former has a higher conversion of 36.7 percent voting for him compared to the latter’s 33.1 percent.
Robin Padilla is high on awareness at 97 percent, but only 26.2 percent will vote for him. Scanning through the list of more than 50 names however, he is the only Muslim candidate with a good chance of winning. Besides, the guy, for all his cinematic swagger, has the passion and love of country one seldom sees in celebrities. Lito Lapid, the former senator metamorphosed as a rebel commander in ABS-CBN’s never-ending Ang Probinsyano telenovela, has a re-invigorated 97 percent awareness, with 33.8 percent conversion. As things stand, should he decide to gallop back to the Senate, the probability of making it is high.
Gina Lopez, despite her high profile as an environmental crusader, is known by only 65 percent of the electorate, with only 14 percent vote conversion. If the survey was done a year ago, when Lopez was making waves as DENR Secretary, she would likely have scored higher on both metrics. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.
I normally advise friends and clients who cast moist eyes in joining the “august” that they ought to have at least 70-percent awareness six months before E-Day and conversion of 25 percent before they plunge into the senatorial sweepstakes. That is not a cut-and-dried benchmark, and there are a lot of other things to consider, but then again, I reserve my thoughts for friends or clients.
Besides, it’s early days. Unfortunately for the wannabes, they have to make a decision come the first week of October, which is Comelec’s deadline for a campaign that begins second week of February next year and elections on May. For all practical intents, the campaign period is really seven months instead of the legally mandated 90-day period. That is a lot of time to perk one’s awareness and strategize high conversion.
We did write in this space (February 7, 2018) a list of possible “moist eyes,” in reaction to Speaker Bebot Alvarez’ nomination of some likely PDP-Laban candidates for the 2019 senatorial race. Some 90 percent of the names we listed in that February 7 article were included in the Pulse Asia list of potential candidates.
At the time, no one had an inkling that Special Assistant to the President Bong Go would even entertain the idea of running for senator, and it was only in mid-March when the possibility was raised. It thus comes as no surprise that his awareness rating is still 60 percent, with only 6 percent conversion. Most likely, that 60 percent has breached the 70-percent threshold by now, but conversion is a function of the right mix, beginning with the right strategy, other than merely being the “pambansang photo-bomber.” There is plenty of time, and Bong has many friends who can help as far as vote conversion is concerned.
Another good friend, Harry Roque, has reached the 70 percent awareness threshold, but has only 8.7percent conversion. The awareness will surely go higher because he is seen or heard almost every day in the news programs.
Clearly, the re-electionists will get re-elected, and some “balikbayans” like Serge Osmena, Lito Lapid and Jinggoy Estrada have very good chances of returning to their seats. Balik-senadora Pia Cayetano is a cinch, being high up there with Poe and Villar. Re-electionist JV Ejercito’s chances are likewise good, but a brother-and-brother run for the Senate may end up in each cancelling out the other. Mayor Erap, the former president, will have a hard time trying to patch up his sons and one could only wish him good luck as he does, the survey coming out on his 81st birthday at that.
Sad to see Mar Roxas, with 96 percent awareness, converting the same to a mere 25.4 percent of voters. He may not have fared well as presidential candidate last 2016, eclipsed by President Duterte by light years, but he was a damn good senator, just like Serge Osmena. Both deserve to return to the Senate, but my sources say they are both disinterested.
The administration would be well-advised to include most if not all re-electionists in a coalition ticket even if all but the Senate President is a PDP-Laban member. If the President’s party decides on an all-member ticket, the chances are they would be hard put to get even four making it, despite the President’s personal popularity. Bam Aquino, the lone LP senator in Pulse Asia’s list of likely winners, could be pulled down by the opposition’s inability to put up a twelve-man slate for 2019, but even if he has spoken against the administration on the human rights issue, he ought to be credited for performing well in his first term.
With Poe, Villar, Cayetano, Binay, Angara, Pimentel as “shoo-ins,” there would be room for only six more, and depending on which of the Estrada scions actually run, plus Imee Marcos and General Bato (although I am told he would go for a local post in his native Davao del Sur instead), Bam Aquino and Lito Lapid, plus Robin Padilla, the 2019 senatorial elections will be “sobrang sikip” for newcomers other than those the President himself handpicks and campaigns for.
Still, a lot can happen between now and September. While the administration seems to have a surfeit of wannabes (Koko Pimentel listed 20 last week), and the opposition has too few, misplaced hubris on the part of the leaders of PDP-Laban in choosing their candidates could turn presently cooperative senators of the administration coalition into “independents” during the second half of President Duterte’s term.
This article would not be complete if we do not mention the stunning performance of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in the first quarter senatorial dipstick. With 94 percent awareness level, and virtually half of that converted into votes, she too is a sure winner. Yet again, the word from Davao is she is staying put in our beloved South, where her city is now considered the political capital of the nation.
That is for now. Who knows what 2022 will bring?