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Of surveys and trends

Malacañang and the rest of the yellow administration’s bet for the 2016 Presidential elections are elated about the results of the Social Weather Stations survey which showed that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s rating had slipped into third place with their bet moving in to the second slot.

The SWS survey which was conducted early this month, showed that Senator Grace Poe remained on top as “the people’s choice” with a rating of 47 percent (up by five points compared from her 42 percent during SWS June survey) while the VP slipped to third place as Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas miraculously took second place, with his ratings shooting up to 39 percent from a mediocre 18 points in the June survey.

According to news reports, the survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide, 300 each in Metro Manila, balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao (sampling error margins of 3 percent for national percentages, and 6 percent each for Metro Manila, balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao).

With due respect to the SWS, I have repeatedly pointed out in previous articles that though these surveys might provide some basis in terms of providing a snapshot of the sentiments of a segment of our society, it does not factually represent the true outlook that will determine the choices of the voting public. The 2010 national elections is the prime example of this.

During the campaign period, the VP, then Makati mayor, was a consistently laggard in all the surveys that came out. However, when election day came, the votes undoubtedly showed that the public’s choice was Binay. This belied the supposed veracity of the trending and survey results previously conducted. Moreover, exit polls data showed that support for the VP actually cut across party lines, and that despite differences in the choice for the presidential slot, party members were close to unified in their choice for the VP.

Given this reality, I echo the VP’s statement that “the true survey is on election day” and that “these surveys are just popularity surveys, name recall.”

Moreover, I also would like  to emphasize that the biggest factor that influences survey results is the questions provided by the pollsters. Hence, when you conduct a survey and you direct the survey participants to just choose three names, you have already drastically limited their choices and indirectly guided the outcome of the questionnaire that you present.

And with a plus/minus 3-6 percent margin of error, we could also assume that the 42 percent of the administration bet is tied with the VP’s core support of about 35 percent, which has remained constant. This solid base among the Filipino masses represents the people who supported the VP in the 2010 elections and his daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, during the 2013 polls.

Also, there is the contention that the sample population taken for the survey represents the right ratio of the income classes and regional tendencies. While the image of the VP may have taken a beating among the A and B classes because of the year-long Senate hearing, his face-to-face interaction with the majority of the rest of the population can never be battered by the mudslinging PR machinery of the administration bet. 

It is laughable that the administration bet just zoomed up in the survey. Laughable since we know that this bet will never get a single vote from the provinces which were devastated by Yolanda. Add to this his proven incompetence in Zamboanga during the siege and their handling of the fallen SAF 44.

The masses will, in the end, favor the candidate which came from their class and not from the cacique, landed, ruling elite.

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