First of two parts
Winning elections is not just all about money for if it were then the previous presidential candidates with oodles of money should have been president. It is also not about winnability, it is more than that. In fact, if one is so much ahead of the pack, the candidate can peak early or he can be the contrasting proposition to make a case for the others in the running, hence be the ripe fruit good for the picking.
The challenge in any election is to get the right person for the job and not because of a Machiavellian streak of who is winnable or worst, who is the lesser of the two evils. When electoral choice is limited to that, then only the loaded ones win because they define the kind of candidate we should vote for and to a certain extent we give it up in favor of the gatekeepers—the holder of the money bags and the proverbial mind conditioning surveys.
2016 should be a search for a leader who must be willing and able to “define reality with great clarity; engender trust by demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the selected strategies to make things better and provide more opportunity.” A lot of this can get lost in the fog of winnability.
Another danger of seeing political leadership only as winnability is that the party may begin to see the national interest and its own partisan interest as the same, with all the implications for bad governance.
And we know that winnability also has to do with a capacity to raise campaign money—an “absolute necessity but which can also have a corrupting influence. Who pays the piper calls the tune.”
One result of the exclusive winnability strategy is that the campaign will just be the trading of insults and a lack of trust between the two camps. When visions, issues and programs are replaced by horse races and personalities, we limit our choices.
Taking the broader view would mean a different kind of campaign more focused on substance that includes a national debate so that the country gets an independent opportunity to assess the claims made by the candidates.
We cannot have the 2010 striptease on the release of an unfinished survey by a TV giant without informing the public that the areas used to measure were all bailiwicks of the 2007 opposition. We cannot have the results of a pushed survey directly used as headline stories. We just cannot afford the gaming of surveys cause it will surely be to the detriment of the public.
Commercial survey outlets should do this country a great service by stopping horse races among undeclared names as well as stopping the public dissemination of the same. Surveys are there to guide candidates and not to push the envelopes to voters in a non-election year and among names with varying measured capacity.
At a cost of P250,000 a quarter at 60 names, that’s a whopping P15 million per quarter for just a copy of tables and charts. And yet when you look at the results, the re-electionists, balik Senado, who ran and lost are all at the top and some decent names, just because they have no national base, are below. Methodologically, why mix them? And there is the issue that all names are not declared candidates, save for the automatically seeded re-electionists.
These survey firms need to stop the practice of doing horse races among oranges and apples and making the result public because it does not serve anything. They need to stop this because it tilts the board in favor of those who have a base, a national name, has been doing media interviews and the works. No way can a new blood with a good record figure in the Top 12 among names picked from media assets and included in the awareness and preference tests in a nationwide survey. The business model works for them but it does not serve the public well.
Worse, it primes the voters that only those who place in the Top 15 matter so if a decent name does not climb up the Top 20, s/he should not run and yet nobody plans to be No. 1 in a senate run. One only looks at the potential of being No. 1 if a candidate breaks rank 5 and that happens only during campaign periods. One rarely plans to be No. 1 in a Senate run unless one’s measured capacity is 40 percent and above at the beginner’s gate.
Presidential and Vice Presidential
Surveys on horse races made public also work against the non-declared candidates because they are shown the door early on. This should not be the case because there are so many factors that one should consider in running. One may be winnable but may not have a vision, program, organization and money.
Worse, if one does not rank, the money dries up and no amount of labeling the potential candidate as decent, a good manager, etc. could undo the damage a survey has done.
To be continued next Tuesday.