Getting to Know Filipino Voters

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​Political Mindscape 2 or PolMindscape is a national psychographics survey done by the Philippines’ first and only registered lobbying and political management firm, Publicus Asia Inc. Backed by 13 years of professional experience in political consulting in Manila and the ASEAN region, the non-commissioned survey was conducted by PUBLiCUS’ technical arm, Vox Opinion Research on 22 February to 4 March 2015 and covers political interests, attitudes, opinions (or IAO) and beliefs of young voters between the ages of 17-45. It includes interviews with a nationally representative sample of young Filipinos (n=1,500). The first PolMindscape survey was a commissioned survey done last 2009 and made public during the organizational meeting of the Association of Political Consultants in Asia or APCA (PH Chapter) last 28 November 2014.
 

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Psychographics versus Demographics

​Often campaign planning in the country focuses on demographics, on variables such as social economic status, age, gender, locale, among others. Demographic analysis “can cover whole societies, or groups defined by criteria such as education, nationality, religion and ethnicity. While psychographics is the “study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.” The sooner candidates realize that elections are not about them rather, more and more about the fragmented voters whom they can only connect if they understood what makes them stand out in terms of shared IAO.

 

​With psychographics, it will no longer be a mass bombardment of TV ads placing more and more money on frequency and forgetting all about reach since the candidate may not know what is important for the voters. There are two kinds of votes: market and command votes. It is easier to deal with command votes because those are the candidate’s hard support.  

 

How one deciphers and listens to market votes is a function of psychographic variables. Segmentation, targeting and positioning of the voters can only be made if the candidate knows his voters, which can be broken down to High Anxiety, Low Information and Moderate Expectations. Political campaigns typically do a good job of connecting with the first two categories and a relatively poor job with the “moderates”.

 

 

Voters care most about character
Each election candidate brings to the table a unique set of characteristics and propositions. Journalists, voter advocates, writers, and interest groups frequently opine that Filipinos should think about platforms rather than personality when considering the people running for office. Results of this survey shows that young voters still put candidate character above experience, positions, and education when considering their votes for President and Senator.

 

It is simplistic to say, however, that people vote on personality.

 

They vote based on their perception of the quality of a candidate’s character. Among a long list of a person’s features, voters most frequently chose the following candidate traits as being most important in considering their vote for President: Maka-Diyos (14%), May malasakit (Compassionate 14%), Mabilis magdesisyon at kumilos (Decisive 13%), Matalino (Intelligent 12%), and Mapagkakatiwalaan (Trustworthy 12%). For Senator the most frequently identified important traits are Mapagkakatiwalaan (Trustworthy 15%), Maka-Diyos (12%), Matulungin sa nangangailangan (Helps the needy 10%), and Maka-masa (Pro-poor 10%).

 

For presidential candidates, it is of prime importance in choosing whom to vote that their locality received personal help from the candidate (26.3%), the second most important is being pro-poor (18.8%). This interest in local help is reflected in the young public’s interest in what is happening in local politics (78% interested), and many agree that most of the issues being discussed in Manila do not affect their own personal lives (55%).

 

Voters were asked to rank in order of importance in their vote choice, the following candidate traits: candidate’s character, level of education or course studied, experience in politics, views in life, beliefs or principles in life. By a large percentage, candidate character is ranked most important or second most important by young voters. The rest of the options have fairly equal distribution of responses, none clearly besting the others.

Voters are exposed to many sources of information and opportunities to talk about whom they are going to vote for. Chart 1 shows the percentage of young voters that agree with some statements that describe things people do to learn about the candidates. Most voters try to get to know the candidates and their political parties well, while smaller majorities consider other people’s opinions and discuss the elections with others. Sixty-six percent (66%) say that they sometimes don’t know enough about a candidate to vote for him or her.

Chart 1. Percent of young voters agreeing with statements

When probed about the visions in life of a political candidate, the potential voters are particular about the track record of the candidate in terms of fulfilling promises (23%), applying personal outlook in life in serving the country (20%) , and assertiveness (19%).

 Attitudes about politics

The survey carried a number of questions that asked about people’s attitudes regarding politics and the elections. Many young voters, 46%, agree that elections do not bring about change. This is a cynical view of elections that does not necessarily mean they will not participate in the process, since 91% of them say they intend to vote in 2016.

Conflict in politics is believed to be bad (80%) while 61% say that is about helping the needy. Corruption, which is often identified as one of the biggest problems in Philippines politics by voters, is thought to be fixable if a leader is chosen who is against it.

Telephone and the Internet

Telephone subscription is still at low level; less than a tenth have telephone subscription. Cellphone ownership and usage, though, is near universal; nine in ten own a cellphone and four in ten are actually smartphone owners. Internet access at home is limited to about a tenth of the adult population; others access the internet through internet cafes, at school or office, and through data connection. 

Traditional media use

More than half watch news on TV at least four times a week; specifically those from NCR, urban areas and class ABC homes. On the other hand, those from rural Visayas areas, predominantly the class E, are the least likely to watch news on TV. Overall reach of radio is significantly lower than TV. Only about a third of the adult population listens to news on the radio, specifically those from North Luzon and the younger age group (17-24 y.o.). Higher incidence of those who listen to radio at least four times a week is notable among the older age segment, 35-45 y.o., and in the Visayas. Newspaper readership is much lower as compared to radio and TV consumption. Only about a fifth of the adult population read news on newspaper. Most of the NCR residents, specifically those from class ABC homes, read news on newspapers once a week.

Television is still the most popular medium for advocating ads for political personalities followed by radio and posters. About half (46%) claim that they had a better opinion about certain political personalities after seeing their political ads, specifically those from South Luzon and Mindanao.

Social media use

About half (42%) use Facebook and only a few use Instagram. Most popular device used to access the social media is smartphone followed by computers.

Readership of news via the internet is at the same level as the newspapers’ reach, i.e. about a fifth of the adult population. Adults from NCR, urban areas, class ABC homes and 17-24 years old read news online at least four times a week. Those from rural areas, class E and older age group (35-45 y.o.) are the least likely to access news on the internet, likely due to poor internet signal or low purchasing power to acquire/access the internet.

A very small minority (5%) follow political personalities through Facebook or Twitter, generally to show their support. Surprisingly, there are more adults in Mindanao who follow political personalities through the said social media. 

Do you believe in surveys?

More than six in ten are aware of opinion surveys; awareness level of opinion surveys is significantly higher in North Luzon and urban areas. Only about half of the adult population express confidence in the reliability of the results of polling surveys; Visayas and Mindanao register notably higher incidence of adults who find polling survey results trustworthy.

Interstingly, only about a third of those who acknowledge the trustworthiness of polling survey results admit that they will not change their voting preference based on the output of polls; notably those from North Luzon. Voting preference of those from South Luzon and Mindanao, on the other hand, are more likely to change based on the polling survey results. 

Who influences voter more?

More than half consider the recommendations of their family (86%) as well as the information/communication they see on TV (56%) to have the biggest impact on their choice of political candidate to vote for. Those from South Luzon also consider the recommendations from public officials (34%) and friends (35%) in deciding who to vote for. In Mindanao, word-of-mouth within their neighborhood (30%) also plays an important role in their voting preference. 

Factors affecting preference on E-Day

Come election day, voters’ preference may differ or change depending on the political TV ads (69%) that they will be exposed to, more notably among the voters in Visayas (76%) and Mindanao (79%). Around four in ten, on the other hand, may change their decision as to who to vote for based on the sample ballots (42%), political jingles (35%) and posters (34%) that will be propagated during the election day. Endorsement of the incumbent president is ranked 6th at 13%, with Mindanao having the highest at 23%. 

Considerations in choosing a president

About half of the potential voters have a soft heart for a Presidential candidate who personally helps (53%) the masses in different areas; maka-masa (38%) and personally visits and seen campaigning in the community (21%).

Probing further on how best to show compassion for the people or “pagmamalasakit sa kapwa,” adults expect a compassionate presidential candidate to prioritize his countrymen’s welfare (39%) by providing livelihood (10%), medical/health benefits (8%), assistance during calamities/tragedies (7%), scholarships and housing projects instead of taking personal advantage of the country’s wealth (5%).

Looking into experience, a political candidate, specifically a presidential candidate, who is considered “inexperienced” or “walang karanasan o kulang pa sa karanasan” is not well versed/or does not have sufficient knowledge about politics (78%), and about leadership (14%). It is also apparent that a presidential candidate’s previous political experience plays an important role in the voters’ considerations; only about a fourth are willing to consider a presidential candidate with no or limited political experience.

Issues that the next president should be able to address

Livelihood or jobs (74%), education (57%), economy (43%) and health care (43%) are the top local issues that the next elected president should be able to address. Corruption is ranked at 5th with 35%.

 Time left

Candidates have some months remaining to convince voters toward their side since most Filipinos do not think about whom they will vote for until a month before the election or less. Only 12% say they start thinking about it one year before the election, 12% about 6 months before, 13% one month before, 25% a week before, and 24% one day before voting day. Another 6% say they only think about it on the day of the election. 

Perceptions on Corruption of Incumbents

There is almost an equal split of those who believe that nearly all (43%) vis those who say that there are only a few (51%) of the incumbent government leaders have taken advantage of their position. About half, also believe that majority (49%) of the politicians are corrupt but more than a third (38%) have no opinion regarding this issue. 

Among all the former Presidents of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino (40%) tops the list of not corrupt Presidents. Her son and incumbent President Noynoy Aquino is at a distant second place (18%). Among the former Vice-Presidents, Noli de Castro has the most mentions as a not corrupt official (37%). The incumbent, Jojo Binay is at 12%. 20% did not pick anyone while 21% said none.

When asked to agree or disagree with the statement: “ang pipiliin kong pangulo ay di korupt”, 76% agreed while 26% disagreed.

There is still a larger proportion of the potential voters’ population who believe that President Noynoy Aquino is not involved in any form of graft and corruption (37%). However, there is a higher incidence of those who doubt President Aquino’s trustworthiness in the NCR (32%) and urban areas (28%).

Approximately eight in ten believe that Vice-President Jejomar Binay is corrupt, specifically those from North Luzon (25%) and among the class ABC (41%) homes. Only 23% said the Vice President is not corrupt. More than half also claim that they will not vote Jojo Binay for President in the coming elections, more notably in NCR (76%) and among the 25-34 years old segment (68%). Those who still consider Binay as a contender for the Presidential race, amidst the corruption issues directed to him acknowledge and highlight Binay’s accomplishments in Makati (43%) (i.e. housing projects, scholarship programs and assistance for the OFWs), his intelligence, assertiveness and kindness. 

Views on Politics and Democracy

More than half of the potential voters believe that resolving corruption (48%) and having efficient political environment in the government depend on the commitment and harmonious relationship (47%) among the leaders. Four in ten, on the other hand, advocate that there is democracy (44%) in the Philippines. And consequently, political leaders should be transparent (44%) with their governance, while Filipinos should exercise their right to vote (40%) and report anomalies (38%) in the government because it’s an expression of their unity with the nation.

More than a third consider election as an expression of political system (34%). About a fourth, though, agree that politicking is a form of berating one’s political opponents (26%). Also about a fourth consider politics as a means of helping those in need (26%) and joining rallies is the citizens outlet to air their complaints against the government (26%). Only a few (24%) believe that corruption is a sole problem of the government and that politics has nothing good to offer to the society (17%).

Views as a Voter

As voters, close to six in ten agree it is their responsibility as citizens to exercise their right to vote (59%), because their votes are important (58%) and can change a nation (47%). Corroborating their stringent considerations in choosing who to vote for, about four in ten confirm that they scrutinize and examine the political candidates (47%) and parties (44%) vying for positions in government, specifically their previous experience in public service (37%).

About three in ten claim that they are interested to understand the local happenings in politics (33%) and voting system in the Philippines (26%), and feel guilty if they fail to exercise their right to vote (28%). A fourth admit that they listen to the opinion of other people (23%) when they are deciding which candidate to vote for because they feel that sometimes they don’t have enough knowledge (24%) about a political candidate.

Technical details

The total sample size for the survey is 1,500 equally distributed across the following areas: NCR, North Central Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Respondents were selected through multi-stage probability sampling for selection of sample spots and allocation of sample units in each stage, resulting in an error margin of +/- 3%. The survey questionnaire was designed by Publicus Asia Inc. and fieldwork conducted by PUBLiCUS at their cost.

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