Only Binay and Roxas have electoral machinery

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Opinion surveys almost by definition capture only people’s whims at the moment, and often do not reflect well-considered views, except perhaps when such a survey is conducted a few weeks before the actual election.

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Polls, therefore, mostly tell you which candidate is the most popular at the moment. But especially in a poor country like ours, popularity doesn’t all translate to votes. Call it the electoral or command machine, a candidate’s network, his organization’s capability to buy votes, voters’ memory due to a candidate’s actual visit to a town, or as the Americans term it, the ground campaign—this X factor is not captured by polls until perhaps a few weeks before the elections.

This was very dramatically demonstrated in the 2010 vice presidential contest. Roxas then, hands down, came to be the most popular candidate at that time, miles ahead of Jejomar Binay, Loren Legarda and Bayani Fernando. As election day neared though, Roxas’ voter-preference peak of 49 percent rating began slipping steadily to 39 percent by April.

That of Binay rose steadily to 21 in March, and leapt to 25 percent in April and climbed further to 37 percent in May.

Binay during these months did not launch any special image-boosting program to create a breakthrough in his popularity, but neither did Roxas commit any monumental blunder to damage his image.

It’s not just popularity that wins elections, but popularity and machinery.

It’s not just popularity that wins elections, but popularity and machinery.

The reason for Binay’s rise in voter-preference ratings was that, in April and May, he rolled out his machine, his network. This was built up over the years by such moves as setting up Makati’s sister-city relations (and, of course, they came along with donations such as ambulances) with the majority of cities and municipalities, his Boy Scout network, and his links with his UP law fraternity Alpha Phi Omega (APO), which he had strengthened over the years. APO has been one of the most elite frats in UP, with its members occupying the commanding posts in mainstream business and politics.

Binay’s machine delivered 21 percentage points more, adding to his voter-preference rating of 21 percent in March, so that he got 42 percent of the actual votes cast in the end.

VP contest

In contrast, Roxas had never developed such ground network, and is not a member of any similar fraternity, nor a leader of a nationwide organization as the Boy Scouts. His world is that of the traditional elite and the country’s big business, who really don’t care about elections.

With his cacique mentality, Roxas thought that his popularity, together with the Liberal Pary’s machinery and huge finances, were enough to win the vice presidential race. His final votes stood at 40 percent, one of just two cases (the other being Villar’s in 2010) when a presidential or vice presidential final votes fell from the candidate’s ratings two months before the elections.

This “machine” is a complex one, more of a living organism that a candidate has to personally nurture for several years.

For instance, even if a candidate has billions of pesos of campaign funds to spend (as Roxas, Manuel Villar and Ramon Mitra had done in different elections), someone must still do the work of approaching the mayors or the governors to deliver the bribe money to the local political leaders, as well as the task of distributing the all important sample ballots on election day. That is the function of the political machine. A candidate would have to have his trusted allies – mainly, from governors down to the mayors and their ward leaders – in place all over the archipelago – all with some loyalty to their candidate and confident that their candidate still has a chance of winning. Such a network, however, can’t be built overnight.

To believe that 100 percent of the masses choose their candidate is naive. More often, especially in the rural areas, it is the political leader in his community who tells the masa whom to vote for, and he follows that directive for various reasons, even for such irrational fear that he would be found out if he didn’t.

I visited the provinces in the 1992 elections, when the LDP’s Ramon Mitra supposedly had a formidable machinery in place. I saw for myself how two governors, supposedly pillars of Mitra’s party, the LDP, would tell the people to just keep Mitra’s sample ballots and posters in their warehouse. This was because they had already given their commitment of support to Mitra’s rival who, I was told, had already parted with some money – P500,000 each to the two governors.

How much does the political machine contribute to the actual polls? I’d compute this as the difference between the actual vote percentages and the March survey ratings, after which a candidate fully mobilizes his machine.

My estimates of these “machinery votes” for presidential contests since 1992 are shown in the following table:

since 1992 final

In the 1992 elections, the machinery-generated votes ranged from 5 percentage points (for Ramos) to 10 percentage points for Cojuangco. The big number of votes garnered by the San Miguel owner confirms the well-known strength of his political machine, built up during Marcos’ 13 years in power, his network among coconut planters and the nationwide distribution system of the beer giant.

In the 1998 elections, the machinery votes delivered 12 percentage points to Estrada and only 3 percentage points to Jose de Venecia and Raul Roco. The latter two candidates’ machinery had collapsed by May, with their financiers closing the tap, as Estrada’s popularity seemed insurmountable.

In the 2004 elections, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s machine delivered 8 percent, which was crucial in defeating the popular Fernando Poe Jr., whose network managed to generate only 5 percentage points more votes.

In the 2010 elections, Benigno Aquino 3rd’s machine delivered 5 percentage points in addition to his already high ratings, with Estrada’s 9 percentage points generated by his network not enough to overcome Aquino’s high popularity rating of 37 percent in March of that year.

So how do we rationally forecast the elections this May, factoring in the machinery votes? The presidential polls so far show the following:

2016 polls 2

Poe’s ratings peaked in June 2015 at 42 percent, before drifting down to 27 percent in March this year. Her popularity is far from the kind her adoptive father FPJ enjoyed, whose ratings never dipped below 31 percent throughout the campaign period. This, of course, is not unexpected, as she, unlike her father, is not herself a movie persona but the daughter of the popular persona of “Panday.”

She has actually flamed out, with confidential polls I have seen putting her ratings down to 12 percent, both because Filipinos must have grown tired of her as a novelty and as her renunciation of her Filipino citizenship has put serious doubt on voters’ minds about her patriotism.  It is Duterte who has mainly taken away the preference votes from Poe.

Binay, meanwhile, has survived the intense and very well funded black propaganda against him undertaken by Aquino’s yellow army, with his polls stabilizing at 24 percent. Duterte’s ratings have been going up from the single-digit levels to over 20 percent because of his shocking sound bites Filipinos like. Roxas’ ratings can’t go past the 20s.

Poe and Duterte, however, don’t have a machine, and time has run out for them to build such a network at this point. They have deluded themselves into thinking that politicians expressing support for them would mean that they would actively campaign for them. The politicians who appear to be supporting them only do so in their calculation that Poe’s or Duterte’s popularity would rub off on them.

They and their political strategists, amazingly, seem to think that popularity converts into votes 100 percent. It seems to me that Poe’s strategists are the two young sons of William Gatchalian, with Estrada providing some advice through the fog of his often drunken, aging mind.

The leaders of Duterte’s camp are people who have hardly gone out of their Davao provincial world, except for strategist Lito Banayo, one of Estrada’s close advisers and operators before and after he won the presidency in 1998. The Dominguez brothers (Sonny and Paul), as well as big financial supporter Antonio Floirendo, have dabbled in political campaigns but remained basically businessmen without being known to have national political networks.

Contrast these to Binay’s camp, whose campaign is being run by Ronaldo Puno, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report in February. Puno’s expertise in running a campaign is unmatched by anyone in the country, having studied the country’s political landscape and built up his own network first, as one of Marcos’ liaisons in local government for 13 years and then, as DILG secretary under Estrada and Arroyo. Most significantly, Puno had run the uphill but successful presidential campaigns of Ramos in 1992 and Arroyo in 2004.

Without a national political machinery running, Poe’s and Duterte’s March ratings are not likely to change much on election day, or at best, perhaps would by only a few percentage points.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago is the classic case of a candidate zooming up the heights of popularity seemingly defying the political landscape, as Poe and Duterte appear to be doing. But even the fiery Miriam, without a machine, could generate only two percentage points of additional votes on election day, so that her April 1992 poll rating of 18 percent gave her only 20 percent actual votes in the end. That wasn’t enough to defeat the 24 percent Fidel Ramos received, with his machine generating 6 percentage more points from his April rating of 18 percent.

Roxas has the Liberal Party’s, and more importantly, the incumbent President’s machine. But the precedent here could be the largest party’s candidate in 1992 and the ruling-party’s candidate in 2010 – Ramon Mitra and Jose de Venecia, respectively – both of whose popularity (or lack of it) was in the same league as Roxas’ now.

Mitra’s machine delivered only 4 percentage points, while De Venecia received only 2 percent more votes. Both lost in that election.

Like Mitra and de Venecia, Roxas’ machine could stall because he has been landing 4th in the polls, and no presidentail candidate with such basement ratings has ever frog-leaped past two leading candidates to win. The people running his machine, the governors and mayors, as they have always done, are likely to leave a perceived loser, pocket the funds Roxas gave them, and jump to his rivals’ camps as the election nears.

My bet is that Binay’s machine could deliver 10 percentage points from his March ratings, using as a basis for this, Arroyo’s 8 percentage points machinery votes in 2004 and half of the huge 21 percentage points in votes the vice president’s machine generated in the vice presidential contest in 2010.

I’d give Roxas an optimistic 4 percentage points in machinery-delivered votes, which is what Mitra, also the No. 4 dweller in the 1992 elections, received. Poe’s and Duterte’s machines, at most, could deliver only 5 percentage points, similar to what FPJ’s machine delivered in 2004.

My forecast, therefore, using past data on machinery-generated votes since 1992, and based on the SWS’ March voter-preference surveys, is as follows:


2016 forecast

I’m betting, however, that Binay could get as high as 40 percent, with a steep loss in Poe’s rating to 12 percentage points divided between Duterte and Binay.

The indisputable lesson of Philippine elections is this: It is not the most popular candidate according to opinion surveys, or he who has the strongest machine, who gets  the highest votes, but he or she who has the most optimal mix of both popularity and political machine emerges the winner.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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48 Comments

  1. naisama nyo po ba ang factor ng social medial machinery at actual volunteerism ng mga warm-bodied supporters ni Duterte?

    • Andrew Felipe on

      Social media preference of voters is one of the factors on determining the popularity of a candidate.

    • Pero how can social media go, ni hindi nga lahat dun registered voters. Also, most naman doon bots.

  2. Their writers and bloggers and their own surveys are their MACHINISTS of today… Who ever candidate that can transmit the best CATCHY TEASERS and SOUND BITES to the voters will win …..He he

  3. Tiglao should also expose Grace Poe’s candidacy and the people controlling her from behind the scenes

  4. Atty.Jun Paredes on

    As an old political pro, the duterte phenomenom is comparable to Magsaysay in 1953, where his opponent incumbent Pres. Quirino had the political machinery while Magsaysay had volunters called the MPM (Magsaysay for President Movement) My father was the organizer in wWstern Mindanao. Duterte has the same charisma as Magsaysay. the people saw themselves in the persona of Duterte. Like Magsaysay, the result will be a landslide win for Duterte on May 9 ! !

  5. The political machinery crap being peddled in in this article ran smack on the March 30 Social Weather Station where Jojo Binay plummeted to 17% while Grace Poe climbed to 34 % more than a month before the May 9 election.
    Ito ho ang mga votes na makukuha ng 4 na presidential bets if election was held in March 30:
    BP-SWS Mobile Survey showed 34 percent of voters picking the independent senator Grace Poe; followed by Duterte of PDP-Laban, 31%; LP’s Mar Roxas, 17% and UNA’s Jejomar Binay at 17%; and Sen. Miriam Santiago, 1%.

    Pabagsak na ho si Jojo Binay. Ang tunay na labanan ho wala ho sa dami ng governors or mayors na hawak ng candidate kung hinde ho sa galing ng propaganda at paninira sa TV – source ng information ng mga tao sa urban at doon sa ika pitong bundok ng Tralala.

  6. I love this convincing unlike the junk sewerage waste sewage n false Aquino/Asia Goebbels propaganda … Educating. 2 survey outfits … Insulting to intelligence.

  7. antonio cope on

    The forecast is correct If Binay does not have an extremely heavy baggage – corruption issue and pending corruption cases. All past contenders mentioned in the forecast were not saddled with documentary evidence of corruption. Anyway, it is just a mere forecast.

  8. In todays world of new technology with social media is on top, there is no need to have a machinery of money for the electoral party.. The silent majority will be at the social media , who will be the winner in this coming election. It is Merriam defensor santiago, who will be the winner in this coming election as well as BBM for Vice President. with internet technology, everything will be save and hence this is the big opportunity to campaign each candidates, thru internet social media, etc. FB which is the most popular for campaigning our electoral candidates. With proper internet communication everybody will be connected and have access throught the world…Survey by this government held, will be no match for the social media which will be the true result after election..
    Now, if you have a machinery or best organizational chart of communication thru internet, to connect to the people even they were at home , you had a chance to win..Even you dont spent, so much money for campaigning.. Just make your own web site, and distribute it what you have.. the whole world will know who you are..its very easy…If you are a bad, leader of your country, the whole world Will be known. You cannot hide anything now in this world of technology. The people who have no information is NOTHING….

  9. SILENT MAJORITY on

    GET REAL FOLKS, ang voter base ni BINAY predominantly from Class E, madalang penetration ng Social Media & Surveyors nyo sa sector na yun.
    Supporters are also different from mere Onlookers.
    There are further differences to Supporters who will actually deliver votes vs. Supporters only active with multiple social media accounts. location elsewhere come actual election day.
    Huwag kayong pretentious, feeling Madam Auring na ang dating,hehe

  10. We can prove the effectiveness of internat and social media in this coming election.

  11. I will bet my whole fortune, Duterte will win in the election. Gone are the days when local officials have strong influence over their constituents. The power of technology, social network, and communication that the grassroots now possess will prove Tiglao is wrong.

    • Dumer Garcia on

      Hi, is there any way to contact you after the election to claim on that bet? I’m not betting anything, but it would be nice if you donated all your wealth to some charity after the votes have been counted and if ever Duterte loses. Thanks!

  12. while binay and roxas has the machineries as claimed by mr tiglao BUT ang mga tao ang nag volunter na maging machineries ni DUTERTE. hope mr tiglao will see for himself the monstrous people attending the rallies of DUTERTE. you can check this out mr tiglao at youtube. last night sa bohol, at maski saan si DUTERTE grabe ang naghintay at nag attend sa rally. ang mga immigrants at ofws sa labas ng bansa ay nagsupport ni DUTERTE. the people has enough and gusto ng PAGBABAGO. DUTERTE will be the next PRESIDENT OF THE PHILPPINES!

    • Agree. Mr Tiglao kung nagkaroon ka ng Share sa corruption ni Binay medyo mahiya ka naman

  13. THAT’S VERY TRUE SIR..!! RIGHT NOW THE MASS-BASED MACHINERY OF BINAY IS ALREADY BEING FELT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE AND WILL REACH THEIR PEAK ON THE EVE OF ELECTION DAY..!! GUMAGAPANG NA PARANG ANAY NA TAHIMIK PERO GUMAGAWA…!!!

    • Yes gumagapang na machinery ng Magnanakaw ng Makati. at gagapang din sya papunta sa BILIBID kasama ka. Sa mga sususunod na survey sya ang pinakakulilat.

  14. adonis b. rocha on

    Mr. Tiglao’s article is a good brain thinker and is right but NOT NECESSARILY CORRECT ! The best political machinery is held by BBM and whoever hooked with BBM and had a tacit collaboration come election day, will be the winner. Only in NCR and some parts of S. Luzon and C. Luzon will be a free for all, division of spoils so to say. No matter how proportionate it will be, it wont match the vaunted venom of the Solid North, Visayas and Mindanao bailiwicks of BBM , who will be the hands down winner for the vp race in 2016.

    Make no mistake, I am no fan of BBM but that is the reality on the ground with the vaunted political might and networks of BBM. Unless, PNoy and cabals make the computers work in favour of Roxas or GPL and with PNoy’s hatred of a Marcos comeback, BBM machinery and loyalty has no match with that one stroke of the finger on the computer voting machine at the day of final tallying. And BBM himself will be the primary target of the PNoy’s computer machine.

    Without PNoy’s fingers dabbling on the keyboard of the computers, the pairings that will emerge as winners in this 2016 prexy and vp race will be as follows:
    a). Binay – BBM ( Binay is surely to wake up from a very very bad nightmare,
    the Marcos family and Imeldific hate him to the bones)
    b). GPL – BBM (The Marcos Imeldific and family wont play second fiddle to
    Cojuangcos and cohorts).
    c). Duterte – BBM ( Needs an insurance basket from Digong and at most 35%
    chance only).
    d). Roxas – BBM (Hands down winner. Blood ties is thicker than water, The Marcos
    and Imeldific will find this a very very match marriage, within the
    family to deliver the vaunted Solid North, Visayas and major parts
    of Mindanao. Roxas and BBM wont be zero in NCR, Southern
    and Central Luzon either).

    And the first casualty of the Roxas presidency is none other than the CJ and the 8 justices who voted for GPL by raping our constitution. They will surely be impeached and/or ceremoniously be led to early retirement to spare them from grave embarassment.

  15. Mr. Tiglao, I beg to disagree with you this time, it is not only Binay, Roxas but more so Grace Poe Llamanzares had the most electoral machinery. GPL is supported not only by NPC but also SMC ( Danding “Pacman Cojuangco and Ramos Ang ) who lend her SMC’s Helicoters and Private Jets for her and party’s shorties, by ABS-CBN, Channel 7 and also Pnoy himself who offered her the services of Solgen and the appointed SC justices to vote in her favor.
    Binay has the solid support ofUNA and Roxas have the few LP machineries and the only one who have no electoral machinery, except the people and nitizens, is Duterte-Cayetano.

  16. Jun Espedido on

    Good and keen analysis Mr. Tiglao. Pero wag po nating kalimutan na ang social media ngayon ay sobrang aktibo kumpara noong mga nakaraang eleksyon kahit pa noong 2010. Halos Lahat ng mga botante ay may access na sa internet at mas marami ngayon ang young voters. Matalino at madali nilang nakakaliskisan ang kandidato na iboboto nila. Kaya sa aking palagay Hindi mare replicate ni VP Binay ang panalo Nya noong 2010 eleksyon.

    • agree. binay will lose the election despite of his massive vote buying . anyway pera ng bayan gamit nya sa vote buying

  17. SILENT MAJORITY on

    Kudos to the author for this excellent Evidence-based article & analysis of past election trends.
    Panic na lalo opponents ni VP Binay who apparently has the SURE-WIN strategy.
    Reality-check ito sa mga nagmamarunong na advisers ng kalaban nya who deluded themselves into concentrating on Social Media win, & still contributing to the annoying election landscape on Facebook, robot softwares on Twitter, trolls on news discussion boards,etc.

    • Silent Majority sorry po, si Binay na notorious corruptor sa Makati suntok sa buwan ang panalo- sa surveys po pahulog ng pahulog ang numero sa kanya -iba noong vp election kasi hinde pa nabulgar ang corruption nya

  18. You didn’t include in Roxas’ machinery the 41% unopossed local politicians as arranged by LP. That’s will give him 15% as equity of incumbency.

  19. With Binay losing Cebu machinery and many more deserting him, I don’t think he will recover the lost ground in terms of bailiwick. I still believe Digong will do an Erap who has no machinery but very high on popularity.

    I think this will Poe vs Duterte with the latter prevailing at the end.

  20. Pollsters will have to re-engineer their procedures after the election. The 7-eleven survey is more realistic than any of the paid polling companies…

  21. On paper this maybe so, but the overwhelming support for Duterte which has not been seen in this country may still prove you wrong.

    • Rodan Guerrero on

      Duterte just like Grace Poe is just a BIG BLUFF in Phil. politics…I agree with the columnist view….On ly Binay and Roxas have the grassroots support. But who would like Korina Sanches to become First Lady of this country? I am for Binay! Binay will jail all these GREAT PRETENDERS….

    • SILENT MAJORITY on

      Do you have proof?
      Supporters are different from mere Onlookers.
      There are further differences to Supporters who will actually deliver votes vs. Supporters only active with multiple social media accounts. location elsewhere come actual election day.
      People like you with tunnel-vision offering only an opinion based on nothing is how the thinking majority despise your candidates.
      Kayo mismo nangangampanya para sa mga kalaban nyo with stupid rants, sayang ang oras ng mga tao sa pagbasa ng comment mong nakaka-bobo. Huwag mo kaming igaya dito sa mga nauuto nyong gullible na mga tao sa social media.

  22. Given such prognosis, it might be better for Digong to slide to the VP post and tie up with Jojo. I guess Alan can always go back to his senate seat while Greg can be given the Defense portfolio thereafter. Greg will have a formidable adviser in the person of
    Manong. If Digong does not make it, he can always be given the DILG portfolio and he will have a chance to solve criminality in six months. Even if Bonget wins, he may still trust Digong with the DILG portfolio. The name of the game is winning and I hope those politicians may have their wisdom for once in their lives. What is important is for beneegno to land in jail – unless there is a quid pro quo to the support of the three sisters for Jojo.

    • That’s not feasible. Not allowed by law for anyone to change the position he is vying for.

    • Lean Tiongson on

      I doubt if a quid pro quo with the sisters will even be in the cards for now… and even after, mahirap magkaroon ng quid pro quo with a group who permitted their machinery to destroy his reputation and significantly make his trip to the presidency difficult… Kung sana di nagresort ang LP ng blackpropa, baka pwede pa… at this point, the Yellow issters have themselves to blame if in case noynoy ends up in jail…

      And dont think that Grace will not jail him, if and when the cases catch up to him… naku, Grace will be the first one to throw him to the dogs… hahahaha… After what he did blasting grace? ..

  23. Necifora Cabrera on

    May the best win, who could bring more successful and great our nation, with sincere and dedication to all filipinos who needs more attention especially those in need, May God bless who is the most and capable.

  24. Mr. Tiglao you seem to know well the ins and outs of our election. What you have said is really happening. I have an uncle who is a political leader in the province and totoo po na in paper iba kunwari ang iniendorso ng governor, pero ang totoo may iba namang ipinapangampanya sa kanila.

  25. Binay is really the candidate of the silent majority. These people does not show they are voting for him because they don’t want to be rediculed by people who have access to social media mostly belonging to middle class. Come election time Binay will win.

  26. Sir, the total doesn’t add up to 100%. I suppose the figures will just have to be adjusted proportionately. So ending would be 27:22:29:22.

  27. powerful logical MUST Read by ALL political pundits.

    re: popular + political machinery optimal mix, presumably being ADDRESSED by every (presidential) candidate, including that “last-mile-to-the-polling-booth”.

    nice perspective. cheers!

  28. The total of your 2016 Forecast after adding Machinery votes to SWS March 2016 ratings is 118 (should not exceed 100) so there is some error in distribution of machinery votes.

    • Casual Observer on

      Good observation. That’s 18% off the correct total which is significant by any standard. This makes the table misleading if not useless. The data should be corrected, instead of apportioning the error. The error could only be in the first line, considering that the points for machinery votes total only 24. If this line was off by 18 points, that would make machinery votes only 6 points, or roughly just two points for each, to be generous. If so, then machinery votes do not matter much. Which makes the point of this article also useless. The total projected turnout for May should have been broken down into percentages for the winner and others. From this figure, state the portion attributable to machinery votes. The balance is attributable to other factors other than survey results. In other words what directly contributed to the candidate’s total output. But then again, a presentation like that will be be speculative, and not as authoritative as what the above presentations attempts to portray. In other words results (survey, actual, or otherwise) should have been the sum, and not an addend.