Supporters of Digong Duterte hold the Pulse Asia surveys aloft, like some sort of a political bible, the contents regarded as the gospel of political truth. Supporters of Grace Poe do the same, but this time the source of their celebration were the results of another mainstream survey entity – the SWS poll work released April 17. The reason is this: The Digong leads in the Pulse Asia surveys with consistency while Grace Poe led The Digong by a slim margin (just 1 percent) in that SWS survey.
Meanwhile, those who are just looking for clarity in the survey results are asking this question: Which survey data is closer to the truth – the Pulse Asia surveys with Duterte holding the commanding lead or the one by SWS with Poe with a very slim lead? Which survey entity has been conducting surveys with real rigor? The conflicting results are not only confusing to the ordinary voters and to the political class but to the election donors as well.
Indeed, which of the two surveys hewed to the truth and analytical rigor? Who between Poe and Duterte is the real leader in the presidential race? Filipino voters are not used to see-sawing, rapidly-shifting polling leads. Previous presidential surveys that covered at least three election cycles had been more or less unanimous on the leader and eventual winner.
The divergence in the results – Leni Robredo also edged out BB Marcos in that SWS survey released April 17 – does not suggest that the data had been skewed to favor one candidate over the other. The cash-rich media networks have been bankrolling these polls and they want the polls to be as accurate and scientific as possible. A mere 30-seconder from a high-rating TV network costs a fortune and what they pay the survey entities is peanuts compared with their election-related revenue. The integrity and rigidity by which the polling entities do their work is a given as they are being incentivized to do so.
While no clear, most likely winner has been identified by the polling work, the survey numbers agreed on one thing – the main competitors now are Digong Duterte and Grace Poe. The other tough contender – Mr. Binay – has seen his once-formidable polling lead evaporate. Unless he pulls off a miracle, Mr. Binay, at least according to the numbers, will be a very sad man after the May 9 polls. The only remaining flicker of light is the fact that Mr. Binay had pulled of such kind of improbable feat in 2010. And he can do a two-peat.
Digong Duterte, the consistent leader in the Pulse Asia surveys, is probably waiting with bated breath for the results of the survey post his joke on rape, a true rape case that involved an Australian woman missionary at that. Leaders of the Church have been on the attack over the crude joke of Mr. Duterte and the Australian community has said its piece as well.
Will Mr. Duterte slide in the polls from that immoderate remark? We will see. Should the post-joke surveys still show voters’ faith in Mr. Duterte, then Mr. Duterte shall have survived the worst episode of his campaign and will most likely cruise to victory. If not, then Grace Poe will take a comfortable and not-so-tenuous lead.
A new survey by the Church, with Poe leading on its “trust issues” seamlessly intersects with the Church’s condemnation of Duterte’s rape joke. The only problem here is that the Church has no proven track record in sinking down candidates that it opposes for one reason or another. In the 2013 senatorial elections, most of those labeled Team Patay and supporters of the RH Law won despite the Church’s open campaign against them.
OK, one question is left unanswered. What about the declarations from the LP-led ruling political coalition that Mr. Roxas, the administration candidate, will defy the survey figures and win in the elections? Two answers: bunk and baloney.
For all his supposed smarts and political sophistication, Mr. Roxas has been running the most orthodox, the most traditional campaign in the current election season: a campaign strategy that will get no traction in the 21st century. Mr. Roxas has premised his victory on the massive delivery of votes from provincial and regional warlords and armies of grassroots volunteers. And endorsements from political heavyweights.
For the nth time, I will say this. Endorsements from political heavyweights, including the President of the republic, are as worthless as the pledges from provincial and regional warlords. Historically, the only voting blocs that deliver are the religious groups, the small ones and not the mainstream Church. Outside of these religious groups, all voting blocs are as hollow as hollow blocks. The regional and provincial warlords will get your money and resources but don’t deliver the numbers to match their fealty.
Mr. Roxas is uber-popular with the Makati Business Club and the Davos crowd. The MBC top guns are, however, the type who can’t even convince their drivers, maids and gardeners to vote for their chosen candidate. The Davos crowd cannot vote. Mr. Aquino, at this point, will probably say I will take a bullet to save the candidacy of Mr. Roxas. But Mr. Aquino is the endorser you need if you want massive rejection from the voters. He is a negative factor, not a positive one.
The polling numbers now say that the presidential contest – after the rough and torturous winnowing of Mr. Binay – is now between Ms. Poe and Mr. Duterte. Whether that is a welcome development for our unstable democracy, or a sad one, can only be judged by history.