SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago was the top pick in the mock polls conducted on November 26 at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) with 1,507 students or 65.75 percent of the 2,292 respondents choosing her as president.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was a far second, garnering 18.32 percent of the votes.
The three other presidential candidates had voter shares of less than five percent: Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas got 4.97 percent, Sen. Grace Poe, 4.36 percent, and Vice President Jejomar Binay, 2.01 percent.
“The candidate with the greatest youth support has greater chances of winning, not only because of the sheer size of the youth vote, but also because of their persuasive power. People listen to the young because it is their future at stake,” Santiago said.
Some 54 million Filipinos are expected to vote next year, 20 million of them aged 18 to 35. Even if only 75 percent of youth votes can give a candidate 15 million, close to the number that propelled Benigno Aquino 3rd to the presidency in 2010.
Santiago said that her victory in the mock elections validates the results of a Facebook-based survey where she also emerged as winner, with 48.36 percent of respondents favoring her.
“In the 1992 elections, the youth not only voted for me, they campaigned for me on a volunteer basis. This new generation seems ready to do the same through social media,” said the senator, who has some 3.2 million followers on Facebook and 2.1 million followers on Twitter.
Only UPLB students who are qualified to vote in the 2016 elections were allowed to participate in the mock polls. The respondents were also asked to write their student numbers to prevent double voting.
Similar to the voting process in actual elections, students who voted in the mock polls were given sample ballots and were asked to shade the circle before the names of their preferred candidate, UPLB political science instructor Miguel Enrico Ayson said.
This is not the first mock polls Santiago won in UPLB. She was also the landslide winner, getting 57.44 percent of the total 1,170 votes cast in a May 2015 polls conducted by a class of social psychology students.
She was followed in that survey by Duterte (7.01 percent), Poe (5.56 percent), Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero and former Sen. Richard Gordon (4.44 percent each), Vice President Jejomar Binay (3.5 percent), and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (2.31 percent).
Santiago also topped a survey on the official Facebook fan page of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, with 64 percent of the total 135,622 votes cast from October 16, the deadline of filing of certificates of candidacy, to October 25.