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Sunday, March 26, 2023

[ANALYSIS] Sara Duterte remains a candidate to beat; Isko, Bongbong & Manny in their growth momentum

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Pulse Asia has released the results of their September 2021 Nationwide Survey on the May 2022 Elections. Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte and Senator Tito Sotto emerged as the top choices for the President and Vice President, respectively.

We ask our editors (Jan Argy and Emil) to give their insights on the latest results of the Pulse Asia survey to help you, our dear readers, to make sense of the numbers. Below are their key insights:

OVERALL IMPRESSION: At this point, surveys do not mean much. It is just a snapchat of today’s preference which could change as evidenced by previous election results.


  • In all post-edsa elections, former President Erap Estrada was the only survey frontrunner before the filing of candidacy who actually won the election. 

  • In the last two elections, survey laggard/dark horse (former VP Binay and VP Robredo) beat the odds and won. 

  • In NCR, it’s no surprise that Bongbong Marcos (BBM) is the frontrunner. In 2016 surveys, he would average between 37-43% in the last surveys of most firms before the election. He’s not getting the same support now because the Mayor of Manila is also running and is cutting his lead. Among the serious contenders, Pacquiao is the tail-ender. 

  • In Balance Luzon, Isko Moreno and BBM are statistically tied. BBM is leading north of Manila and Isko leading in the south. The fabled Lingayen to Lucena corridor which contains at least 40% of the voters delivered for the eventual winner except for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in  ‘04. Among serious contenders, VP Leni and Mayor Sara Duterte are tail-enders. 

  • In Visayas, Mayor Sara Duterte and Sen. Manny Pacquiao are statistically tied on top. I’d assume Eastern Visayas is going to Mayor Sara Duterte and Western Visayas to Sen. Pacquiao. BBM is the tail-ender despite the fact that he hails from Leyte and incumbent officials from the province are his family members. 

  • In Mindanao, Mayor Sara is the runaway survey leader with 47%, more impressive than her Dad’s 29% in Sept 2015 by Pulse Asia. All other candidates are single digit except Sen. Pacquiao, which should be a concern for her. The Pacman is eating away a source of her votes. Isko is the tail-ender in Mindano with only 3%.

  • Among classess, Isko and BBM are statistically tied among Class ABC. While Mayor Sara is the favored candidate in Class D&E. Sen. Pacquiao shows a strong following among Class E. Though Class D is the biggest voting group, a very strong showing in class abc or E could help a candidate pull away from the pack which happened in 2016 when the older Duterte got the support of 49% of class abc.

  • 7% are still undecided and I counted at least 17% of the vote would be up for grabs if it is limited to 6 serious contenders (Mayor Sara, VP Leni, Mayor Isko, Sen. Pacquiao, BBM, Sen. Lacson). 24% (7+17) of undecided votes still give anyone of the 6 the chance to win. And the fact that we don’t know how much of each candidates votes are soft voters that can be swayed makes everything still fluid.

  • In the VP race, Sen. Tito Sotto has a double digit lead over all other candidates. He wins in all regions except Mindanao. He also wins in all classess and double digit lead in class D&E. The reason for the strong showing is that 60% of the voters think Duterte shouldn’t run and Sotto benefits from it being the only known/well-known candidate for VP. At some point in his career, we look at him as the clown in the Senate but once he was elected Senate President he became a strong contender for a higher post being the third person in the line of succession. It also helps that his nephew Vico is doing well to deodorize the Sotto name. 

  • In the Senate, the survey looks good for the incumbent and returning Senators with pedigreed surname as always. Some relatives of incumbent Senator are also doing very well landing in the top 12 (Villar, Cayetano, Binay). The top spot will depend which ticket they run. The winning Presidents ticket gives them advantage to sample ballot access and distribution. 

CONCLUSION: In a four way fight (Mayor Isko, Mayor Sara, Sen. Pacquiao and Sen. Lacson), Mayor Isko and Mayor Sara are statistically tied according to the survey. But in actual voting Mayor Isko would lose to Mayor Sara because the latter has the support of the machinery of the administration who could cut off his vote and bring in votes from political warlord. If Mayor Isko wants to win, he should at least pull away with 6% more than the next candidate but even that would be a tight race. Mayor Sara but not Go, is still the candidate to beat.

– Jan Argy

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Sara Duterte, Bong Bong Marcos, Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao are statistically tied in terms of their survey numbers’ growth trajectories; Big hurdles ahead for Leni Robredo


  • Sara Duterte’s 8-point drop from previous survey (June 7-16, 2021) is notable but generally not concerning since it indicates that her ratings have yet to reach a new peak. Preventing her from peaking early in the election season is a wise strategy. Although it renders her, Bongbong Marcos, Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao statistically tied or equidistant in terms of growth trajectory of their respective ratings.

  • Manny Pacquiao is clearly not a top choice of the upper and upper-middle class voters as shown by his single-digit share of ABC voters (4% in February, 4% in June and 7% in September). His figures in ABC at this stage of the electoral season are even lower than that of Erap Estrada in 2010 election. Erap eventually received 7% of ABC voters last 2010. Manny Pacquiao has two options, either he would copy the Erap model where bulk of the votes will come from D and E to land him a respectable finish next year or he may spend resources campaigning for ABC voters to reach a double-digit growth in this category in the next survey.
  • Vice President Leni Robredo’s single-digit share of ABC and D votes in February (ABC-4%, D-8% & E-8%) June (ABC-6%, D-6% & E-5%) and September Pulse Asia surveys (ABC-8%, D-8% & E-11%) are notably concerning. As shown by 2010 and 2016 elections, a viable presidential contender must already be registering double-digit shares in ABC and D at this stage of the electoral season. Her overall ratings remain single-digit although increasing dismally (February- 7%, June- 6% and September 8%). It is to be noted, though, that VP Leni improved from 5 to 10% in Metro Manila, 6 to 12% in Visayas, and 5 to 11% in Class E.
  • Based on her survey ratings, Vice President Leni Robredo faces the toughest challenge to convert voters among the rumored and announced Presidential contenders. She has the choice to either opt out of the race and help Isko Moreno to consolidate the opposition’s votes or gamble that the announcement of her candidacy, and the votes from the undecided and Grace Poe should the latter decide not to run will help her reach double-digit shares of votes in the next survey.
  • Senator Lacson’s figures are reminiscent of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s numbers last 2016 election. Although, in terms of overall growth, he is statitstically tied with VP Leni Robredo’s numbers.

CONCLUSION: Bongbong Marcos, Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao’s survey numbers are already in their growth momentum. Their overall ratings are elastic at this stage of the electoral season.

Sara Duterte as the outlier and early frontrunner faces the twin challenge of generating momentum anew to re/convert voters while preventing her ratings from peaking prematurely at the same time.

Vice President Leni Robredo lies in the sweet but tricky spot that can enable her to peak at the right moment— that is if she’s given similar boost, ground and financial support if not more than what she got in 2016 election.


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