• Presidential job approval ratings: Are you satisfied?


    My recent series (in three parts) on PH public opinion polling focused entirely on the work of SWS and Pulse Asia with respect to the 2016 elections, and the comparative ratings of prospective and declared candidates for high office.

    I meant to add a fourth column to the series, which would focus on presidential job approval ratings, in order to complete the picture of public opinion research in the country.

    This column tackles this final topic of the series.

    In the earlier parts, I concluded that SWS and Pulse Asia twisted and kneaded public opinion into a pretzel; in this fourth part, I submit the finding that the two pollsters conduct job approval polls in a way that pollsters in America and Europe will not comprehend.

    The leading survey organizations in the US and Europe design, structure and conduct their job approval surveys under a nearly uniform standard. They all describe their ratings as job approval ratings.

    The only explanation for the SWS-Pulse Asia’s free-wheeling style is that their survey subject is President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd, who is different, eccentric, and weird.

    The US system
    In the United States, presidential job approval ratings were introduced by George Gallup in the late 1930s to gauge public support for the President of the United States during his term. An approval rating is is given to a president based on responses to a poll in which a sample of people are asked whether they approve or disapprove of his handlingnof his job.

    A typical survey question asks:
    “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Benigno BS Aquino 3rd is handling his job as President?”

    Like most surveys that predict public opinion, the approval rating is subjective. However, the approval rating is generally accepted as a statistically valid indicator of the comparative changes in the popular mood regarding a president or public official.

    In the Gallup Daily, the Gallup organization tracks daily the percentage of Americans who approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. Daily results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,500 national adults; margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    Rasmussen Reports also conducts a presidential tracking poll.

    Other pollsters, like Roper and Pew Center, conduct regular surveys on Obama’s job approval.

    Responses from respondents are uniformly tabulated according to three answers: approve, disapprove, and no opinion.

    The difference between approve and disapprove answers in the given survey is denominated as the index approval rating.

    PH pollsters in a different universe
    SWS and Pulse Asia exist in a different universe from US pollsters.

    They rate public perception and approval of the President and other top officials in their own fashion.

    They give the traditional job approval rating new and descriptive names and tags.

    SWS calls its job rating a “satisfaction rating.”

    Survey respondents are asked whether they are “satisfied” or “dissatisfied” by the President’s job performance. It is no different from a market research test of a new soft drink or food product. SWS denotes the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction answers as “the margin of satisfaction” rating of the President.

    For its part, Pulse Asia’s approach is to appear to do more in assessing public opinion.

    It attempts to do two surveys at once with the same respondents during the same survey period. The two are:
    1, an approval rating survey; and
    2. a trust survey.

    By undertaking a trustworthiness survey on top of the approval survey, Pulse Asia looks public-spirited.

    In fact, all it does is ask the respondent this added question: Do you trust or distrust President Aquino as president?

    The difference between trust and distrust responses is then recorded as the trust rating of the President.

    By introducing these new tags, SWS and Pulse Asia effectively take their surveys out of the traditional job approval survey. They confuse the public about what it is exactly that they are reading.
    Indispensable to Aquino during crisis
    SWS and Pulse Asia have been most useful to President Aquino during the biggest crises of his presidency, when his approval ratings plunged to record lows.

    Among these crises are:
    1. The government’s response to supertyphoon Yolanda/Haiyan, when government was heavily criticized for its incompetence and insensitivity.

    2. The President’s acccountability for the Mamasapano incident/massacre, wherein 44 elite commandos of the Philippine National Police were killed by Muslim rebel forces.

    3. The administration’s authorship of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the

    Supreme court ruled as unconstitutional, and cost P150 billion of public money.

    4. The bribery by the administration of members of the Senate, in the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.

    In each of these crises, public anger and disapproval of the conduct of the President rose to their fever pitch. But through clever survey methodologies and deft question wording, SWS and Pulse Asia have been able to come up with consistently high satisfaction and approval/trust ratings for Aquino.

    Media as key to reform of PH polling
    There is a basic unreality to Aquino’s job approval ratings, when set against the problems and the quality of governance. The public does not believe them.

    The true believer in these ratings appears to be Aquino himself, who takes them so seriously he now boasts about non-existent reforms and achievements. Lately, he has taken to railing against people who, he claims, are grabbing credit for his achievements.

    The real remedy to the dishonest surveys of SWS and Pulse Asia is serious competition from honest-to-goodness pollsters.

    There are professional public opinion research firms in the country, which conduct highly respected market research for top companies. But they are loathe to tackle public affairs research because of sleaze.

    Media organizations, in my view, hold the key for reform in public opinion polling in the Philippines. Since the media provide oxygen to SWS and Pulse Asia by publishing and broadcasting their survey results, they can force them to follow strict ethical guidelines.

    In the US, media organizations like the New York Times enforce a strict code that survey firms must comply with before they will report survey results. They regularly commission surveys themselves.

    The moment the media commission professional and honest surveys, SWS and Pulse Asia will be forced to shape up and change their ways.

    Then can we the people see opinion polls that reflect what we think and what we feel about our leaders and the burning issues of the day.



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    1. The simplest way is to ignore these survey firms until they outlive their useful life. I myself do not believe in these two low lying opinion pollers. These two firms are all in there for the money. For them money makes the world go round. To the intellects who analyze what’s going on will simply discard these conditioning of the mind setting. To those who rides on the bandwagon..try to be more discerning this time… theres o many crooks lurking around so don’t be the next victim

    2. I always wonder why the ratings of this so called president remains high when in fact he has done nothing at all. I believe that there are people behind who is protecting him or covering him every time he committed errors. His oligarch friends, some media perhaps, yes? Tell me who are these people. Every one knows his blunders from A to Z and yet his trust & satisfaction ratings remains high or just dropped the figures a little bit just to make it believable. I hate liars, liars, liars. Its high time to send them to hell. That’s where they belong.

    3. You have three excellent choices:

      First, GIBO TEODORO

      Second, DICK GORDON

      Third, Serge Osmena

      And of these three will beat any and all other wannabee VPs, from Chiz, to Sonny, to Alan, to Bongbong, to Leni. None of them singly or even in combination can come close to the track records of any of the foregoing BEST VP FOR JOJO BINAY. Forget Gringo…he has toooooo many baggages…and he has a big obstacle he will drag into your camp…HE IS NOT TRUST WORTHY, and is well known for his TURNCOATISM…and FAILURES (6 failed coup d etat attempts…deng this guy is a an anarchist loser, also.

      Short of any of these aforementioned VP choices…go for Kris Aquino, before Mar changes his mind and shelves Leni for Kris.

      Digoy and Bongbong are not serious contenders. Their bravado and much bruited lock in bloc voting groups are all overrated. Charisma is not transferrable. Bongbong has not shown or demonstrated that Muck U. Farcos has transferred any of his charisma to his son…Besides, Bongbong’s performance in the senate is lackluster, he won as a 7th placer. Nothing impressive about that. As for Digoy, he is a local toughie…in Davao. He can’t be a tough guy for the entire country…look what happened to Erap. Look what happened to the Poe King (ina’t ama ay meron ding mga problema as porengers…speaking of history repearting itself…huh Grace).?

      Gibo…Dick, Serge…Any of these three will be perfect fit as “substitute President” in case Jojo is unable to complete his term for any reason. This will send the message throughout the country that Jojo really and truly cares to support the continuity of democracy in Inang Bayan.

      Forget Gringo. He smells of trouble and can cause your team to be split…And God help you if you end up with Bongbong as your Vice President. He will unload on you his obsession to give his father a hero’s burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani…and you do not need this kind of polarizing problem early in your incumbency as the new President elect in 2016,


    4. sibat na tapat on

      Pre-election poll ratings adversely affects peoples true preferences for not a few voters tend to sway toward candidates with high chances of winnability gauging from poll results rather than on the basis of excellent platform, proven quality service records and trustworthiness which is the right way of exercising one’s right to vote. No wonder both legislative and executive branches of our government are filled with undesirable and corrupt members unmindful of people’s needs and welfare

    5. Please anybody publish the names of owners and people running the SWS and Pulse Asia. So the people can speak all their curse directly on them!

    6. Please anybody publish the names of owners and people running the SWS and Pulse Asia. Para maging particular yung smga sumpa ng mamamayan para sa kanila.

    7. Until the media regulate the polling methods of SWS and False Asia, they should not publish any survey results by the two polling firms. Their results often mislead the public into believing something that is the opposite of what they report.

      • jesus nazario on

        Sue them and the media publishing these survey firms’ lies as soon as this admin exits !

    8. Whether there is ‘False’ (Pulse) Asia and SWS, or not, the fact remains that there’s no such thing as “matuwid na daan” and “Kung walang Corrupt, walang mahirap”. These are only catch phrases that don’t mean anything since there are no proofs to back them up.

      In Philippine politics, I think people are made to believe in fantasies; Since majority are so poor, they might as well believe in these fantasies, to ‘ease’ the ‘pains’ of not being able to eat square meals every day, despite continuous struggle to earn a decent way of living.

      First, there’s the “matuwid na daan” . It is based on the fact that GMA and other ‘big’ fish/es are being incacerated, but not the ‘big’ fish/es who are close to Pres. BS Aquino like Purisima, Torres, Puno and other department heads. In other words, it is ‘selective’ and ‘divisive’, proving to be a vindictive move by the administration. I don’t even have to mention about the other catch phrase which is too obvious to mention.Yet, the administration’s candidates pride in promising to continue them.

      The other presidential candidate promises to continue what has been ‘started’ by her adoptive father. What was it, in the first place? Be a heroine and protect the downtrodden and the oppressed — and make move movies?

      And, finally, another candidate promises to continue to be “pro poor”, but the plunder cases filed against him belie his claim. Perhaps, he has money to dole out or to help the poor which, actually, were the people’s money.

      Conclusion: Nothing of substance will be attained in our political system because we have to live in “fantasies”.

      May God bless the Filipino people; may God bless the Phlippines.

    9. Ang media at survey ay itinuturing nilang isang negosyong madaling pagkakitaan at kapangyarihan magagamit sa sino man banta sa kanilang pakinabang.
      Sabi nga ,kung sino ang handang magbayad, bukas ang buong palad nilang paglilingkuran. Mali man o tama ang iyong ipinaglalaban may katapat yan ng halaga na kailangan nilang bayaran. P-AG-IBIG SA BAYAN? WALA SA UTAK AT PUSO NG MGA YAN! Nababasa lang yan!

    10. These two survey firms SWS and Pulse Asia shall be condemn for not reporting properly. I know the National Press Club and other organization that govern the media shall impose case against these firm. D ba ang motto ng media ay pawang katotohanan at walang kinilikiligan ang pagbabalita. Eh itong ginagawa ng SWS and Pulse Asia ay hindi makatotohan at mayroon silang kinikilingan lalaonglalona na itong SWS na ang pinuno ay si Mang ahas halatang halata na may pinapaboran. Bakit hindi binibigyan ng kaso o reprimand ng orgnisyon na namamahlala sa media. Bakit? anong klase batas mayroon tayo na hindi magbigyan ng reprimand itong SWS and Pulse? Mr, Yen siguro naman may alam ka na cocontrol o magbibigay ng reprimand sa SWS at Pulse Asia sa kanilang survey na hudi makatotohan, Wala ba tayong batas diyan? Sa akin pagalam mayroon tayong batas na cocontrol sa media eh bakit hindi nila bigyan ng reprimand ang maling pagbabalita. Pakisagot lang Mr Yen itong katanungan ko..

    11. This ratings are unreal! Surveys are just Assumptions that does not Hold .
      It’s not to be taken seriously unless the Candidate himself has influence over it and stirs it on his own favor. They are just another manipulating device!