The latest Pulse Asia pre-election survey puts Partido Federal Pilipino presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on top but Liberal Party presidential bet and Vice-president Leni Robredo is slowly catching up.  

A possible “re-match” between Robredo and Marcos (referring to their 2016 contest forvice-president that ended in a Marcos protest case at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal) is suggested by the Pulse Asia survey of December 6 to 11.

The survey had 53 percent of the 2,400 respondents saying they would vote for the son of the late dictator if elections were held then.  Robredo, on the other, won the nod of 20 percent of respondents, up from the measly eight percent the Vice-president got in the previous Pulse Asia poll.    

Coming in tied for third place with eight percent voter support each were Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Sen. Panfilo Lacson took the sole fourth spot with six percent of respondents saying they would vote for him if elections were held during the survey period.

Retired general Antonio Parlade Jr. and labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman registered less than one percent of voter preference with 0.01 percent and 0.004 percent, respectively. 

Marcos’ lead on his rivals was clear across all regions and all social classes. In both Metro Manila and Mindanao, he took more than half of voters with 61 percent and 64 percent, respectively. 

With classes ABC, Marcos had 53 percent support versus Robredo’s 24 percent. It was the same story with classes D and E, where he and Robredo were 54-19 percent and 49-21 percent, respectively. 

This was the result despite the dominant headlines at the time the fieldwork for the survey was conducted: President Duterte’s accusation that an unnamed presidential candidate was a cocaine user, and there were also the petitions for disqualification against Marcos. 

The campaign starts February 8, but there is already partisan excitement leading to May 9 when the nation decides whether it should remain in the hands of inept and corrupt nominees of political dynasties or elect reformists attuned to true public service.

If the son of the former dictator maintains his wide lead, he would be able to recapture the presidential palace that his disgraced family abandoned in 1986 as they fled in panic to Hawaii at the height of the People Power Revolt.

But a statistical detail cautions that it may not be that easy for Marcos to sweep the 2022 election, even if he and Robredo generally maintain their early campaign momentum.

Robredo sprung to second place to Marcos after leaping to a 20-percent share from her eight percent in the previous September survey, where her scores across regions and economic classes ranged from eight to 12 percent. In this last survey, her range across classes improved 10 to 25 percent.

Robredo’s regional percentages have shot up since September in the National Capital Region (14 from 10 percent), Balance Luzon (24 from eight percent), Visayas (25 from 10 percent) and Mindanao (10 from four percent). Across classes, her standing also improved: ABC (24 from eight percent), D (19 from eight percent) and E (21 from 11 percent).

Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez said her big jump is a “definitive affirmation of the energy and momentum of the people’s campaign that emerged” after she declared her candidacy.

Like other observers, he said the 2022 elections loom as a showdown between Robredo and Marcos, who dueled in 2016 for the vicepresidency. Their fight, triggered by Marcos’ protest, went all the way to the Supreme Court that sat as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which resolved it in favor of Robredo.

Robredo has famously said of Marcos, “I beat him once, I can beat him again.”