“Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?” Robert Orben
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — I don’t believe in surveys.
I have covered presidential and local elections in the Philippines since 1992, and I can absolutely declare that many surveys conducted by different “independent” firms months–or even weeks-before the election day, didn’t match the final results.
Surveys–depending on who “sponsored” them– were sometimes used to condition the mind of the public.
Or confuse the undecided voters.
Election 1992 winner Fidel V. Ramos of the Lakas–NUCD (People Power–National Union of Christian Democrats) was never a front-runner in various surveys, but edged Miriam Defensor-Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (PRP)–5,342,521 million votes or 23.58% against 4,468,173 million votes or 19.72%.
Survey leaders Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. (3,316,661 million votes or 14.64%) of the Nationalist People’s Coaliation (NPC) and Ramon V. Mitra (3,316,661 million votes or 14.64%) of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Struggle of Democratic Filipinos) wound up third and fourth, respectively.
Cojuangco’s runningmate, Joseph “Erap” Estrada won over Mitra’s runningmate, Marcelo Fernan by more then two million votes.
The only difference was the 1998 presidential race where Estrada clobbered Jose “Joe” De Venecia by more than six million votes (Erap got 10,722,295 votes or 39.86% against De Venecia’s 4,268,483 million votes or 15.87%).
SWS and Pulse Asia surveys consistently showed Erap in the front seat from day one during the campaign period.
Also making difference was De Venecia’s runningmate, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was consistently ahead on all the surveys against LDP’s Edgardo Angara–12,667,252 million votes or 49.56% against 5,652,068 million votes or 22.11%.
Survey networks couldn’t make a “profit” because Erap’s and Gloria’s victories were exceptional.
They were extremely popular at that time and their respective rivals were perceived to be “pipitsugin” or weak.
Election 2004 winner Macapagal-Arroyo was way behind Fernando Poe Jr. of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (Coalition of United Filipinos) in SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, but romped off with a slim margin–12,905,808 million votes or 39.99% against 11,782,232 million votes or 36.51%.
Surveys were split between vice presidential winner Noli de Castro and Loren Legarda, who lost only by less than a million votes, 15,100,431 against 14,218,709.
Election 2010 winner, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr. of the Liberal Party (LP) was also making waves in various surveys owing to the popularity of her late mother, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, but SWS and Pulse Asia surveys showed his closest rivals were Manny Villar of the Nationalista Party and Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro of the Lakas Kampi-CMD.
In fact, many survey outfits saw Villar the winner weeks before the elections on May 10, 2010.
The former speaker of the House, who reportedly had P20 billion war chest, finished third with 5,573,835 million votes or 15.42%.
Strangely, Teodoro, who was the most popular candidate in social media, especially in Facebook, wound up fourth with 4,095,839 million votes or 11.33%
The most popular candidate in the May 9, 2016 elections in Facebook today is Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte.
He also topped the recent SWS and Pulse Asia survey followed by Grace Poe.
They were followed by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) bet Jejomar Binay and LP administration candidate Mar Roxas.
The Comelec, however, has declared Binay’s party as the dominant minority party in this year’s elections, while LP is the dominant majority party.
The poll body’s declaration means that LP and UNA shall be entitled to the following privileges:
–get the fifth and sixth copies of election returns (ERs), respectively, to be produced by the vote counting machines;
–receive electronically-transmitted precinct results;
–get the seventh and eighth copies of the Certificates of Canvass, respectively; and
–assign official watchers in every polling places and canvassing centers.
Philippine elections are won not only by popularity but more importantly by machinery, as shown in the past presidential races.
A candidate may be popular, but his popularity can’t be translated into votes automatically.
Also, national candidates are usually being carried by party candidates in the local elections for governors, mayors, and provincial, city, and municipal councilors.
Most of the voters not reached by survey organizations are loyal to their villages chiefs, who are mostly loyal to their mayors and governors.
The LP had boasted that 67 out of the 82 incumbent governors showed up at the three-hour gathering known as “show of force” at the historic Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City recently.
A total of 169 district representatives and 74 city mayors were also in attendance.
Will LP change the course of history once more by proving both the SWS and Pulse Asia wrong?