IT looks like things are getting interesting in the maneuvering for political advantage by politicians going to next year’s elections. The shift that I have long predicted has happened. In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Sen. Grace Poe has finally overtaken former front runner among presidential wannabes, Vice President Jejomar Binay. Expect the swagger of stalwarts of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to flame out.

The survey was conducted nationwide from May 30 to June 5 and results showed Poe was favored by 30 percent of the respondents. Only 22 percent favored Binay, giving Poe an 8-percentage points advantage. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte came in third with 15 percent while Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas was third with 10 percent, tied with former president and Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Binay’s fall was slow, but it was sure. I even expect those behind him in the ratings now, like Duterte or even Roxas, to get closer to him or overtake him in the ratings before the deadline of the filing of the certificates in November. As I said, Binay is damaged goods and I have faith in the capability of majority of the voters to see him for what he really is.

This should convince the Binay camp that glossing over the accusations of corruption against the VP won’t work. The past days, he has been talking about many other things, including vowing to go against corrupt government officials if he becomes president. That statement is grating to the ears because he himself could not even adequately explain how he and his alleged dummies could amass wealth worth billions of pesos.

Meanwhile, the survey results could go to the head of Poe and her advisers. I could imagine her advisers telling her to go for it in 2016 even without the needed machinery and resources. The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) has offered to adopt her as the party’s standard-bearer for 2016 with Sen. Francis Escudero as her running mate. That fits snugly with Poe’s announced preference to partner with Escudero.

But I doubt if NPC can provide adequate machinery the way the Liberal Party (LP) in 2010 propped up the candidacy of Benigno Aquino III for president. The party chief-cum-financier is reportedly sickly and NPC lawmakers are now part of the administration coalition. It would be different, however, if Poe is adopted by either the LP or UNA.

If Poe does run for president under the NPC, she wouldn’t have a political leader in either Cebu province or the city. That would create a situation similar to when her father, Fernando Poe Jr., ran against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004. In that election, Arroyo badly trounced Poe in Cebu, sparking claims he was cheated.

Besides, survey results are not etched in granite. In the campaign, the rating could shift rapidly depending on the conduct of the campaign. If a candidate does not have fanatical support like Aquino had in 2010, he could fold up in the face of relentless assault on his image by his opponents. An example is former senator Manuel Villar, who was an early frontrunner but eventually lost in the 2010 polls. The point is, a formidable machinery can be a saving grace (no pun intended).

The survey is also encouraging for Duterte and, to a lesser extent, Roxas. Duterte is just 7 percentage points from Binay and 15 percentage points from Poe. But like Poe, Duterte has still to acquire a decent nationwide political machinery. Roxas rates lower than Duterte but can rely on formidable machinery and the possible anointment by PNoy.

(khanwens@gmail.com)