In a sense, the campaign is over for many voters: at least, this is the impression I get. The surveys seem to agree that the undecided number about 6% of the electorate, which can make or break the chances of either of the leading candidates. The campaigning then, as it enters the middle period (the home stretch comes after Holy Week), focuses on three things: keeping the base, chipping away at the base of other opponents, and convincing the undecided. But the respective bases of the two leading candidates seem to be fairly stable and much as the campaign has taken an increasingly aggressive tone, the bases don’t seem to be shifting so much. This makes for a campaign in which those bases will probably tend to tune out, having made up their minds.
This is particularly true because the big push for many candidates took place before the official campaign even began: in the November-February period.
Normally, the formalities surrounding party conventions and the nomination of official candidates was supposed to take place in January, followed immediately by the presidential campaign itself in February. Because of automation, the filing of candidacies was moved to November and there was supposed to be an artificial hiatus until February, except the Supreme Court decided there would be no hiatus so to speak, which meant that essentially an extended pre-campaign period took place from October to February.
In chronological order, here are the latest surveys.
I. The first reported out was Pulse Asia, February 21-25, 2010 (released March 5, 2010):
The survey tells us that at the time it was conducted, Aquino enjoyed an overall 7 point lead over Villar nationally; leading in the NCR (16 pts.), Balance Luzon (2 pts.), Mindanao (19 pts.) and very slightly in the Visayas (1 pt.); and among Class ABC (8 pts.), Class D (8 pts.) and Class E (3 pts.)
This was remarkable because it answered two questions pending since the January surveys:
1. Would either of the main contenders show a game-winning trajectory? From his earlier, spectacular, numbers, Aquino has settled on a percentage in the high 30’s; after a herculean effort, Villar shot up but seems to have lost some steam. If, however, Aquino had slid and Villar, in turn, had actually overtaken Aquino, then a bandwagon effect might have been created. But neither before, when the resources that could be poured into the effort were limitless, and since, when a much more strategic effort is required, has Villar managed to actually overtake the frontrunner.
2. Did the C-5 Controversy have any effect? It seems it has.
See the following:
II. Next came the Manila Standard Today survey,February 20-26, 2010:
Again in terms of plotting the trajectory of the candidates, see the following:
III. And finally, Social Weather Stations, February 24-28, 2010, which used the simulated ballot for the first time.
In terms of the two leading contenders, Aquino leads in the NCR (by 22 pts.), Visayas (5 pts.), and Mindanao (2 pts.), and Class D (the largest class, by 4 pts.); Villar leads in Balance Luzon (4 pts.), among Class ABC (3 pts.) and Class E (2 pts.).
While the Pulse Asia survey tells us the main divisions are between those voting on the basis of a candidate not having a corruption record and those putting forward caring for the poor:
It’s interesting that the Manila Standard Today survey (run by the same fellow who used to undertake in-house surveys for the President) asks a lot of questions focusing on messaging. Look at the slides on voter conversion, on their awareness and favorability, and their slogans, and so forth.