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SWS: Binay, Poe statistically tied; Duterte rises

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A new Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll shows the 2016 Philippine presidential race is a statistical tie between Vice President Jejomar Binay and neophyte Senator Grace Poe.

More than a third of the country's voters would like either Binay (36%) or Poe (31%) to succeed President Benigno Aquino III, based on the SWS survey exclusively published in Business World on Thursday, April 16.

It's a statistical tie, considering the survey's ± 3-point error margin and its limited 1,200 respondents. They were asked from March 20-23 who they believe would be the "best leaders to succeed" Aquino. Respondents were allowed to name up to 3 names top of mind. 

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte showed a 10-point surge from his 5% in December. Data made available did not show, however, how many of the respondents picked him as their first choice. But an earlier March Pulse Asia survey also captured Duterte's rise. (READ: Duterte is No. 3 in presidential preference poll

Business World does not have a breakdown of the number of respondents who named both Binay and Poe. A look at disaggregated numbers should also show whose name is first mentioned in those cases.

Using a different methodology, the Pulse Asia survey conducted a few weeks earlier showed a wide lead for Binay (29%) over Poe (14%). Respondents were only allowed to pick one name from a long list of potential candidates. These numbers are expected to move drastically when the list is shortened to show only those who are actually running for the post.

In allowing respondents to give 3 names, the SWS survey can show which candidate can steal from the support base of another. A closer look at the data should show Poe's potential of eroding Binay's support base – should she decide to run for president.

Duterte's rise 

The SWS survey shows that given the error margin, the numbers of Binay and Poe overlap. Binay's numbers range from a low of 33% to a high of 39%, while Poe's numbers range from a low of 28% to a high of 34%. Binay could be ahead of Poe by 11 points. Or Poe could be ahead by one point. (READ: Nate Silver: Avoid errors by paying close attention to poll's 'margin of error')

1% is equivalent to an estimated 500,000 voters, considering the total registered voters of 50 million in the 2013 polls.

It's also a 10-point surge for Poe since her 21% ratings in the last SWS presidential survey on December 14. Binay's numbers were statistically unchanged from 37% in December.

The rest of the potential 2016 candidates are tailing far behind. Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, also the Liberal Party's presumptive presidential candidate, and Duterte are tied with their 15%.

For Roxas, it's a 4-point drop from his 19% in December 2014. This is in sharp contrast to Duterte's 10-point increase from his previous 5%.

The respondents also named Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (11%), former president Joseph Estrada (11%), Senator Francis Escudero (8%), Senator Ferdinand Marcos (7%), and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano (4%). The movement of their numbers from December are all within the error margin.

Binay's resilience, Poe's rise

Poe saw a surge in her numbers last year when Binay was reeling from the blow of back-to-back corruption allegations. 

Her name has been floated as a possible alternative to Roxas, whose numbers are dismal, to become the administration candidate. (READ: No praise of Mar from Aquino at mayors' event

Poe has expressed some openness to the possibility in spite of her qualms. 

Binay's numbers, on the other hand, continued to show resilience in the face of the controversies. (READ: A year of tracking poll: Binay bounces back)

Reacting to the survey results, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma said, "Surveys provide periodic and timely feedback on the public pulse at any given time. We prefer to focus on implementation of priority development and reform programs at this time."

Rico Quicho, the Vice President's spokesperson for political concerns, said in a statement, "The Vice President is truly grateful for the trust and recognition as shown by the results of the latest SWS presidential survey. This is defined by the competence and compassion of the Vice President as manifested in his programs in Makati especially in health and education and assisting OFWs as Presidential Adviser on OFW concerns and the gains achieved by the Pag-IBIG Fund."

He also said, "The Vice President is focused on the task at hand and would continue to provide his kind of leadership and performance whoever will be the other presidential aspirants."

Poe, for her part, said in a statement, "I am humbled by the results of the survey. I view it as a positive appreciation and validation by a good number of our countrymen of my work within and prior to the survey period."

She continued, "It inspires me that our people approve of what I have been doing and I will continue to do what I think is right and for the best interest of our countrymen. Patuloy akong magsisikap na gawin kung ano ang tama at makakatulong sa mas nakararami. (I will continue trying hard to do what is right and what is helpful to the majority.) " Rappler.com