After every election, I write in this space that the results confirm the predictions of the two leading pollsters – Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia (PA). In 2016, not only did I note that the results of the 2016 presidential election validated the projections of the two pollsters, I also wrote that the rankings of all the presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the two polls corresponded to their place in the actual ranking. elections.
I defend election polls when critics question the integrity of the polls. In 2010, presidential candidates Gilbert Teodoro and Richard Gordon asked how 2,000 poll respondents could represent the feelings of an electorate of 50 million voters. Teodoro’s campaign manager said Teodoro ranked No. 1 in all the universities the candidate spoke at and that the students who said they would vote for him numbered in the tens of thousands. The late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago raised the same question when she ran for president in 2016. Like Teodoro, she ranked Iffirst in a survey of university students.
In reaction, I wrote that one can also wonder how 10, 20 or even 30,000 university students canflect the feelings of 50 million voters or how middle to upper class students in the National Capital Region can possibly represent the entire electorate. University students belong to the middle to upper income groups, are between 18 and 22 years old, are mostly single, highly educated, well-informed by the media and highly politicized. Their choice of candidate differs of the voting preference of the electorate taken as a whole.
This confidence in election polls comes from the fact that I worked for Robot Statistics, the first opinion pollster/market researcher Ifrm in the country. In fact, it was my Ffirst job right out of college. It was the Philippines afIfLiate from Gallup Polls when I was with the company. I had also earned enough credits in statistics – as an AB-Commerce student, then as a graduate student in psychology, then as an MBA student – to have a good understanding of random sampling, the margin of error and the level of confidence. (Robot enrolled me in Ateneo’s Graduate School of Psychology because he planned to get into motivational research then.)
But when the results of the survey conducted by Pulse Asia from January 19-24 showed Bongbong Marcos as the preferred presidential candidate of 60% of respondents and Leni the choice of only 16%, doubts swirled in my mind. In the three elections where Bongbong ran in the national elections ofIfthis, he did not obtain more than 35% of the votes of the electorate.
When Bongbong first ran for senator in 1995, he received 8,168,788 votes, or 31.7% of the votes cast that year, short of the number of votes needed to win one of the 12 seats in the Senate. Iffilled. He ran again in 2010. He garnered 13,169,634 votes or 34.5%, good enough to win him a Senate seat. When he ran for Vice President in 2016, he received 14,155,314 or 34.5%. But Leni Robredo beat him with 14,418,817 votes or 35.1%.
Bongbong had done nothing since the 2016-2021 elections to raise his political stock or win the admiration, gratitude or goodwill of the electorate. I asked how he could be preferred by 60% of respondents as he is running for president against the same person who beat him for vice president, who is now only preferred by 16%?
Leni as Vice President hadn’t done a bad job of reducing the number of people who elected her Vice President to half. In fact, she has done a lot for the people, especially the marginalized, despite President Rodrigo Duterte hampering her efforts to serve the people. In contrast, Bongbong was concerned about his election protest during the same period.
Some political pundits say that Bongbong’s message of “Muli Babangon(“Rise again”) instills nostalgia for the “golden age” under his father’s presidency. Bongbong’s troll army had flsocial media flooded with tales of a robust economy, awe-inspiring infrastructure, and the enduring peace and order that his father’s reign was. Since young people have not lived under martial law, they believe what they read on social media.
But netizens have saturated social media with factual evidence that belies the claim that Ferdinand Marcos’ 20-year reign was the “golden age” in Philippine history. Their posts show that his rule was marred by massive corruption, rampant human rights abuses and an economy still on the brink of collapse.
In addition, the Philippine Conference of Catholic Bishops (CBCP) issued a pastoral letter on February 25 that spoke of the “gross and subtle distortion” of history, the trivialization of the people power revolution and the seeding of false information.fluence the opinion of the people and to slander and blackmail people. The pastoral letter called attention to “troll farms that sow the virus of lies.”
Bongbong’s critics have said that even if the tale of a “golden age” were true, it does not necessarily follow that the son could duplicate what his father had achieved. He does not have a brilliant mind, the zeal for work and the determination to Iffinish what he set out to do – qualities that his father possessed. He showed during the campaign that he didn’t have the oratorical skills or the power of persuasion to be able to lead people.
He was branded a coward for not participating in Comelec-sponsored debates and for refusing to be interviewed by respected local journalists and foreign correspondents.
All that bashing seems to have had little effect on his rating in the Pulse Asia surveys. In the March 17-21 survey, Bongbong’s score was 56%, down 4% from his 60% in January. This is still 21% more than the 35% he obtained in the actual elections. The April 16-21 survey did not reflect a change in people’s attitude towards him. Fifty-six percent still preferred him to the other candidates.
Bongbong’s near-constant high rating in the Pulse Asia polls has been met with skepticism, if not criticism, not by politicians who do poorly in election polls, but by respected professional statisticians. Dr. Romulo Virola, former Secretary General of the National Statistical Coordinating Council and Professor of Statistics at UP, Diliman, found many “flaws” in current Pulse Asia election polls. He pointed to the over-representation and under-representation of certain demographic groups. Such overrepresentation and underrepresentation of subgroups could have skewed the survey results.
Arvin Boller, a senior lecturer at the Ateneo School of Social Science, says no president since 1986 has won the votes of a majority of Filipinos. Pulse Asia surveys show Bongbong could potentially pull it offff. He sees three possible reasons for the 56% rating: 1. Bongbong’s campaign is extremely effefficient ; 2. there is a method Flaw in the conduct of the investigation; 3. There is a conspiracy behind the survey results.
Well, today we will know the results of yesterday’s elections. If Pulse Asia’s numbers for Bongbong Marcos and Leni Robredo match or closely approximate election results, then Pulse Asia will be affirmed as a credible election outcome forecaster. If the results show a victory for Leni Robredo, Pulse Asia will collapse, taking the entire polling industry with it.
Oscar P. Lagman, Jr. is a retired business executive, business consultant, and professor of management. He has been a politicized citizen since his university studies in the late 1950s.