Will it narrow to a Noynoy or Manny contest for president?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-01-17

The 2010 presidential election can evolve into a two-man contest between Senators Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar, the consistent first and second placers in the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys since November 2009.

The November and December SWS and Pulse Asia surveys show that the third, fourth and fifth placers among the presidential candidates are either weakening or are not gaining ground. At this juncture of the campaign, those who are holding fourth and fifth places are up against extremely great odds if they cannot even rate in double digit by January.

The SWS December 27-28 survey which was commissioned by a Villar ally showed that Noynoy Aquino is still the man to beat as he continues to maintain a 44% rating. The same survey showed Manny Villar solidifying his second place position by increasing his rating to 33% - thus pushing the contest towards a two-man selection.

In the January 13 news story of STAR’s Jess Diaz, the same SWS survey of December 27-28 showed that if elections were held today, Aquino will win it over an expanded field with a margin of anywhere from 10 to 11% — that means over 4 million votes. If it does boil down to a two-man race, Aquino will beat Villar with the projected vote of 52% versus Villar’s 44%.

The November and December SWS and Pulse Asia surveys would indicate that Manny Villar has succeeded in doing one thing but has failed to accomplish the more important thing for him to do to be able to beat Noynoy Aquino. Villar has succeeded in taking points from the rest of the candidates trailing him but he has failed to remove points from Aquino, the man he has to beat in order to win.

The SWS finding of a 52-44 vote split in favor of Aquino in the event of a two-man race proves that Villar fails to take any points away from Aquino. Aquino even gained, from 44 to 52. That 8-point margin equates to over 3.2 million votes.

The 52-44 Aquino versus Villar vote equity in a two-man race corroborates findings of qualitative as well as quantitative research studies which your Chair Wrecker saw during the last two months. These studies showed that Aquino also benefits from the pullout of other candidates. One study showed that if Joseph Estrada leaves the presidential race, Aquino tends to get the biggest block of Estrada’s voters.

In marketing cases, it has long been established that dominant brands tend to get a big chunk out of other brands that exit from the market. Dominant brands also enjoy the strongest brand loyalty.

The same study that showed Aquino getting the bulk of Estrada voters if the former president withdraws also showed that Aquino enjoys an impressive voter loyalty. When asked about the possibility of changing their minds, 85% of Aquino voters said that they will not. The average 45% Aquino ratings in the November and December SWS and Pulse Asia surveys tend to corroborate that loyalty.

No doubt, there will be many more developments between now and Election Day which can affect these ratings and the standings of the candidates. To win, Villar must substantially erode the strong Aquino base.

It must be noted that the SWS December 27-28 survey was conducted during a period when Villar ads were all over media and when Aquino had hardly any advertising. It was also conducted when nobody was really attacking Villar as Aquino tended to attract the bulk of the attacks because of his dominant position.

It must also be factored that it is only now that Aquino is really defining his candidacy. He was a late starter and had spent the past three months in preparing his campaign organization and platform. Expect gains for Aquino when he starts to address some of those questions of people who are not yet sold on him.

Villar made the monumental blunder of openly attacking Aquino. Before the January 9 La Salle Alabang Forum, the attacks against Aquino were conducted mostly on the internet and those on print, radio and television were ventilated by other persons. But Villar, like the Japanese on December 7, 1941, personally dropped his bombs against Aquino. That was a monumental blunder because he just gave Aquino the moral high ground to attack him back and Villar just happens to be a very vulnerable target.

Another factor that Villar may have overlooked was that he has showed inconsistency in his ratings. Villar already scored a 33% rating in the SWS June 19-22 survey but he later dropped to the lower 20s. How will Villar’s ratings fare when they start attacking him with all those corruption issues that have been hounding him?

That privilege speech Joker Arroyo delivered against Villar when they were both members of the House of Representatives is an atomic bomb comparable to the one dropped on Hiroshima. The big problem of Villar is that he has been under fire for corruption even before he became a presidential candidate while Aquino was never smeared with any corruption charge. With such a heavy baggage, how can Villar win an election where voters are desperately seeking to end the corruption that steals from the people a better life, if not their future?

They are now desperately trying to smear Cory Aquino just to be able to erode that aura of Mr. Clean of Noynoy Aquino. Many Filipinos may be suffering from the Information Gap but they are not stupid.

Cory Aquino was hailed as an Icon and Saint of Democracy by no less than TIME Magazine. Do these detractors think that people will change their minds about Cory just because some paid hacks working for some very corrupt people are attacking her?

Whatever they are now saying to destroy Cory they have said those before. But none of these were taken against her. It was Cory the world believed and not the lies that her detractors were peddling. The way Filipinos and the rest of the world honored her in death confirmed this.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. We learn that lesson early on in school. My Kumpadre Manny Villar may have been absent when they taught that.

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