By Rommel C. Lontayao, Reporter
The Manila Times
Vice President Noli de Castro topped the latest survey of likely presidential candidates for the 2010 elections, but former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. narrowed the gap.
In a poll conducted by Pulse Asia from October 14 to 27, some 18 percent of the respondents said de Castro is their first choice as president in the next elections.
Villar and former President Joseph Estrada were tied for second, with 17 percent each.
And in a bittersweet development for Villar, who resigned as Senate president on Monday (see related front-page story), his popularity surged five percentage points from the last Pulse Asia survey that gave him only 12 percent.
Senator Francis Escudero was the fourth-most popular choice with 15 percent, followed by Senator Loren Legarda with 14 percent.
The other names picked by respondents include Senator Panfilo Lacson with 7 percent; Senator Manuel Roxas 2nd, 6 percent; and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, Chairman Bayani Fernando of the Metro Manila Development Authority and evangelist Eddie Villanueva, each with 1 percent.
Regions and economic brackets
According to the survey, respondents in Metro Manila preferred Escudero (22 percent) over all other likely presidential candidates; followed by Villar (16 percent), Estrada (13 percent), Lacson (13 percent), de Castro (9 percent), Legarda (8 percent), Roxas (6 percent), Binay (5 percent) and Fernando (3 percent).
In the balance Luzon—which covers all regions on the island, except Metro Manila—Villar and de Castro each got 18 percent. Next came Estrada, 17 percent; Escudero, 16 percent; Legarda, 8 percent; and Roxas, 6 percent.
Respondents in the Visayas preferred de Castro (22 percent), followed by Legarda (21 percent), Villar (18 percent), Escudero (12 percent), Roxas (11 percent), Estrada (8 percent), Lacson (4 percent) and Villanueva (1 percent).
Estrada got his highest preference rating in Mindanao, where he was chosen by 30 percent of the respondents. De Castro followed with 20 percent; then Villar, 13 percent; Escudero, 11 percent; Legarda, 10 percent; Lacson and Roxas, 5 percent each; and Binay and Fernando, 1 percent each.
Among respondents belonging to the upper socioeconomic brackets, Pulse Asia said Villar got 19 percent, followed by Escudero (17 percent), de Castro (14 percent), Roxas (12 percent), Estrada (10 percent), Lacson (9 percent), Legarda (8 percent), Fernando (4 percent) and Binay (1 percent).
For the middleclass, both Villar and de Castro had the highest preference ratings with 18 percent each. They were followed by Escudero (17 percent), Estrada (14 percent), Legarda (12 percent), Lacson (8 percent), Roxas (5 percent), Binay (1 percent), Fernando (1 percent) and Villanueva (also 1 percent).
Estrada remained the most popular among the masses, as he got 27 percent of the respondents from class E. They preferred him over de Castro (19 percent), Legarda (18 percent), Villar (14 percent), Escudero (10 percent), Lacson (5 percent) and Roxas (5 percent).
The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent in the national level, and plus or minus 6 percent in the regional levels, Pulse Asia said.