IN First World countries, the serious and focused web traffic during election seasons is dominated by the pollsters, statisticians, number-crunchers. People who genuinely know how elections work ignore the media chatter, especially those coming from pundits spewing hot air and those coming from the talking heads -cum -gasbags. The punditry and the broadcast bloviators, perched on their high-horses and often ill-informed on political science generate most of the noise and, take note of this, 99 percent of the predicting errors.
I have nothing against pundits and talking heads engaging in unscientific number-crunching but the stark reality is this: what they say is mostly hot air.
So when Beltway insiders cum pundits say that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is collapsing and Nate Silver says that she has – given her current numbers – an 80 percent chance of winning the Democratic primary, it is Silver’s take that is taken very seriously by political operatives. Joe Biden’s presidential dream, despite all the chatter of Hillary collapsing, cannot take off because his supporters read and believe in Silver’s numbers. The pundits have megaphones, true, but the real political scientists have very little respect for their supposed wisdom. It is mostly hot air and bluster.
This might as well be the case in the current Philippine election cycle.
The punditry’s take on Mar Roxas is representative of politics without the underlying science. Why? Because Mar Roxas cheerleaders, along with some big-name pundits, claim that Mar Roxas can still win, based on rosy but essentially faith-based scenarios. The scenarios they have been invoking, sorry for the bluntness, are all contrary to the science of politics.
Ok, what are the anchors of Mr. Roxas’ faith-based victory in 2016?
Basis Number One. The LP is a giant vampire squid that will suck the blood and energy out of the competing political coalitions. This is, the cheerleaders claim, Mr. Roxas’s primary route to victory.
This claim is essentially flawed as it assaults both polling numbers and the country’s electoral history.
Mr. Roxas’ numbers have fluctuated from a low single-digit to 15 and 20 percent of the votes in a field with just three serious contenders—he, Mr. Binay and Senator Poe. Despite the perception that the LP is a political juggernaut and most of the elected leaders are behind Mr. Roxas, his numbers have not moved, signifying the worst fate a presidential could ever face—polling numbers low and in stasis.
All polls, from the serious ones to the amateurish ones, have categorized Mr. Roxas as a potential loser. Of the three major wannabes, only he and Senator Poe have been getting positive media. Mr. Roxas has been getting mostly positive coverage. And Mr. Aquiono makes sure that The Anointed is at the front, back and center of critical state affairs. Even with that, he can’t get past the still competitive figures of frequently – slimed Mr. Binay.
The strength of the LP is overrated. When we speak of the LP now, we should remember these acronyms: KBL in the 1986 snap elections, the Laban coalition of Monching Mitra in 1992, the Lakas-NUCD-CMD coalition of Joe de Venecia in 1998, the Lakas-NUCD-CMD in 2010.
All of these giant coalitions failed to carry their presidential standard bearers. More, their candidates lost miserably to the eventual winner and were never competitive in their respective races.
Basis Number 2 is the all-out support of President Aquino to The Chosen One.
That carries weight, of course, but it is a limited one. Mr. Aquino has fervent loyalists among the business and political elite. The problem is this: this is a very limited constituency. The president of the one percent has a command over the votes of the one percent.
To the grief of the Aquino/Roxas people, Klaus Schwab and the rest of the Davos crowd and the Manila-based foreign businessmen, the people who adore Mr. Aquino, cannot vote in Philippine elections. It is a rare case of me and my neighbors and my lumpen friends having a say on our nation’s destiny. And we can state this with 100 certainty: We will not go with the Aquino candidate.
( The parachuting foreign journalists who never tire writing glowing articles about the free market and social Darwinism of Mr. Aquino sadly cannot vote.)
Basis Number 3 is the superior CV of Mr. Roxas.
While this is true, Filipino voters do not look at CVs and IQ level when they vote for their presidents. This is validated by our electoral history. Otherwise, Gibo Teodoro would have won the 2010 presidential elections. The late Raul Roco, twice my choice for president, would have won in one of his two attempts.
Right now, if nothing changes with the perception that Mr. Roxas is just an Aquino clone and is just a heartless technocrat like Mr. Aquino, the end-game for Mr. Roxas can be told by the numbers.
His LP monolith will end up like the KBL in the 1986 snap elections, the Laban of Monching Mitra in 1992 and the Lakas-NUCD-CMD in 1998 and 2010.
What else is being conveyed by the current polling numbers?
Mr. Roxas will likely end up 3rd place behind the winner and runner up. I further fear the entry of Mr. Duterte into the race. Should that happen, Mr. Roxas will end up fourth place.