The Social Weather Station released its latest survey, and here's an extract from their press release:
Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III took the top spot in the people's three best successors to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2010, according to the Third Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, fielded over September 18-21, 2009.
Sixty percent gave Sen. Aquino's name in response to the question, "Sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang Konstitusyon, ang termino ni Pang. Arroyo ay hanggang sa taong 2010 lamang at magkakaroon ng halalan para sa pagka-pangulo sa Mayo 2010. Sinu-sino sa palagay ninyo ang mga magagaling na lider na dapat pumalit kay Pang. Arroyo bilang Presidente? Maaari po kayong magbanggit ng hanggang tatlong sagot." [Under the present Constitution, the term of Pres. Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed Pres. Arroyo as President? You may give up to three names].
The next most popular successor was Sen. Manny Villar, who was mentioned by 37%.
Aquino and Villar were followed by former Pres. Joseph Estrada at 18%, Sen. Francis Escudero at 15%, and Sen. Mar Roxas at 12%.
The survey found Vice-Pres. Noli De Castro mentioned by 8%, Sen. Loren Legarda by 5%, Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro by 4%, Sen. Panfilo Lacson by 2%, and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay by 2%.
At 1 percent each were MMDA Chairperson Bayani Fernando and Brother Eddie Villanueva.
Six percent could not give an answer, and 4% had no one to recommend. The accompanying illustration, however, is more illuminating:
The question of the public's own shortlist of successors for presidency has been tracked for two years now. Over that time frame, some names have remained in the running, and new ones have been added by the respondents. An interesting take on the results reported over the past two years can be found in Atheista.net's It's Time To Coin A New Term: Getting Roco'd, particularly in relation to two potential candidates, Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero.
Regarding Legarda, Atheista has this to say:
The sidelight perhaps is Loren Legarda. She probably won't run for president; nor has she any chance of winning the top office for the rest of her life, but for a stretch of time from September 2007 to February 2009, Legarda was actually within striking distance of the top spot. This is reminiscent of the late Raul Roco's performance in surveys prior to 2001 wherein he was constantly topping polls. While it was clear that Roco did himself in with the exposure of his lackluster political machinery, dodgy choice of senatoriables and *ugh* running mate; it is unclear what Legarda did to sabotage her own chances. A lot of people hated Legarda for flip-flopping on Gloria - and ironically, this is despite the already growing hatred for the GMA Administration back in 2004 -- but she still managed to bag 44% of the respondents' votes of confidence back in 2007. I guess that only means that the 2004 incident was not the reason why she was dropped. The only hypothesis I could offer is that her supporters identified with Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar - the two candidates whose popularity rose as hers was plummeting.
And here's Atheista on Francis Escudero:
One interesting sidelight is how surprisingly bad Chiz Escudero's showing has been. Despite topping the recent senatorial polls and taking every opportunity to spew out empty words on television, Escudero's preference ratings have stayed pretty much the same over the last 2 years. There is no momentum at all. I won't even be surprised if he finishes a distant third (or even fourth) when all is said and done. Joseph Estrada might even erode his chances of a third spot finish (not that it matters!) since Escudero's base of support is supposedly the youth - a demographic that is also captured by the Aquino juggernaut.
Personally, I think the survey results are useful not in terms of presenting a snapshot of how voters might vote, were elections held today, but rather, who, in the public mind, are the real contenders at this point in time. I've suggested in the past that we're seeing a return, in voter attitudes and orientation, towards seeing the presidential contest as a two party fight, which is a more natural order of things as far as a presidential system with no runoff elections is concerned.
From this perspective, the fight for the presidency is between Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Villar Jr. The other candidates will determine who gets to shave off votes from the leading contenders and who ends up losing more votes to the minor candidates more than the other.
Philippine Commentary in Why SWS Presidential Survey Does Not Add Up To 100% But 300% looks at the survey methodology, and proposes,
My take is that when the respondents get to that third possible choice, they end up naming their father, mother, wife, uncle, mayor, themselves! or some other unknown that together with everybody else's third choices usually make up to half of the SWS data! But as it should, the data does add up to 300% in all columns. I have a theory I cannot prove, that it is actually the second placer in these SWS polls that represents a kind of plurality choice. Noynoy has come out of nowhere (less than 0.14 percent!) to take a whopping --but sympathy confounded--60%.
Now there's a graphic in the entry that's quite interesting. Philippine Commentary for some time has been pointing out that what gets lost in all the reporting and commentary on the SWS surveys is the percentage of undecided voters or those who decide on no choices whatsoever:
The Chart above does not include the present survey, the first one which has Aquino manifesting himself as a top-of-mind choice among respondents as a potential president. If you remember the surveys, prior to the Aquino phenomenon, had Villar as the front-runner; in fact it seemed entirely possible he'd reached the critical 25% threshhold political pros considered the make-or-break level for a presidential candidate: it's what would mark a candidate as the man to beat in a presidential election in a multi-candidate race.
There were questions raised about whether or not Villar's reaching the crucial 25% level in the surveys represented his peaking too early or not; this question was complicated by the entry of Aquino, and initial survey findings of his obtaining startlingly high figures not only in Luzon, but the Visayas (Lito Osmena's privately-commissioned Cebu survey) and Mindanao (Rodrigo Duterte's privately commissioned Davao congressional districts survey).
Whether one doubts the usefulness or even methodology of the question SWS has been tracking for two years now, the question of whether or not Villar had peaked too soon, for example, or the percentage of support Aquino actually enjoys, can only be answered by surveys that ask potential voters to make specific choices based on who they'd vote for, were elections held that day.
There was a rider -a privately-commissioned set of questions- attached to the SWS September 18-21 Survey, which addresses the questions of who, specifically, voters would vote for, for the presidency, vice-presidency, and in terms of tandems.
Here are the results of that privately-commissioned rider set of questions:
Based on the above, Villar seems to have peaked; or at the very least, the entry of Aquino, whose national results are in harmony with previous location-specific surveys, and make him the front-runner, means the Villar campaign has to work doube-time; what I don't know, because these were the only results provided me, is if there were other candidates reflected in the results or whether the rider limited the choices to the figures above.