Those are the poll figures of the latest PulseAsia presidential-preference survey for respondents in the National Capital Region (NCR), which, as I explain below, is the only believable part of this pollster’s most recent report, for its polls conducted January 24 -28.
For the NCR, Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares and Vice President Jejomar Binay are statistically tied with 33 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Davao City Mayor Rodolfo Duterte is third with 16 percent, while President Aquino’s man Manuel Roxas 2nd, is fourth with 11 percent.
The NCR results are very significant by themselves as the region is the country’s political and cultural capital, the information infrastructure of which is the most developed in the country. It is in the NCR that Aquino and Roxas’ intense black propaganda since last year against Binay was mostly disseminated — and obviously failed.
However, Pulse Asia’s figures from the “Balance of Luzon,” Visayas, and Mindanao are so obviously out of whack and cannot be explained that these can’t be believed, so that Pulse Asia’s national-level figures are without credibility.
Based on Pulse Asia’s own figures, how could the following changes have occurred in just a few weeks between its two polling dates, Dec. 4 -11 and Jan. 24- 28, 2016.
* Llamanzares’ voter-preference jumped 10 percentage points, from 29 percent to 39 percent among respondents in Luzon outside of NCR.
* Binay lost 14 percentage points in the Visayas region and 16 in Mindanao.
One can argue that Llamanzares’ rise in voter-preference was merely due to the fact that she was continually in the news (which therefore improved her name recall) because of the big question whether she would be disqualified for not being a natural citizen, or lacking the 10-year residency requirement, or both.
Nothing, though, can explain why Binay lost that huge 14 percentage points among Visayan respondents and 16 points in Mindanao. (The Ombudsman announcement on the Binays’ case was made Feb. 5.)
On the contrary, it is the ratings of Roxas that should have dipped in the days up to Jan. 28, when Juan Ponce Enrile accused Roxas and his boss Aquino of botching up the Mamasapano operation that resulted in 44 Special Action Force troopers being slaughtered. Instead, Roxas’ ratings increased from 17 percent to 21 percent, if one is to believe the Pulse Asia report.
The purported plunge in Binay’s ratings, combined with some increases for Roxas, had the effect of making it seem that the two and Duterte are statistically tied, which would of course be a dream situation for the cellar-dweller, Roxas.
How could Binay’s ratings be made to appear to have plunged, while Roxas to have inched upward?
Only through a clever manipulation of samples for the Balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, especially since there is less homogeneity of people’s perceptions in the provinces compared to Metro Manila, which is actually a melting pot of sorts of people from all over the country.
For a professional survey, the number of samples for the three regions should be proportional to the voter population per region. But we don’t know if Pulse Asia did that.
For instance, could it have over-represented Capiz and Negros in its sample for Visayas, and known Liberal Party command-vote areas such as the ARMM for its samples for Mindanao, so that Binay’s ratings plunged 14 percentage points in Visayas and 16 points in the region?
I’ll believe Pulse Asia if it discloses exactly how its samples are distributed per province in regions other than the National Capital Region. After all, even if Pulse Asia keeps insisting they’re professionals, Aquino’s cousin the clever Rapa Lopa was once its president.
Voter-preference ratings do not suddenly plunge or rise without reason, especially outside the National Capital Region, where the information infrastructure that determines people’s perceptions is so much more underdeveloped than in metropolitan Manila, and where people’s perceptions change over a longer period of time.
Having said all these, the polls’ basic flaw, as I have pointed out in previous columns is that they are usually forced-choice surveys, with respondents knowing little of the topic or not having decided yet, in the case of voter-preference polls, but being forced to give a choice anyway.
Based on international studies, the undecided account for 20 to 35 percent of responses, although in voter preference polls these grow smaller as election day nears.
The real impact of voter-preference polls, especially in this country, is in terms of the campaign contributions candidates obtain, with the rich proportioning their contributions according to survey results.
Who would give real money to Roxas, after all, if his ratings have been in the cellar?
I wouldn’t be surprised if his camp moved heaven and earth to manipulate Pulse Asia’s recent poll, since three months to election day, every sign — including polls by the Social Weather Stations — indicates that the Administration candidate will be buried by a landslide, not only due to people’s anger over his overlord Aquino’s incompetence, but over Roxas’ own bungling, the worst of which was his paralysis as the Special Action Force troopers officially under his command were being massacred in Mamasapano.