IN every presidential election, there are “three possible campaigns any candidate can run: challenger, trying to regain the top position for his party; incumbent, trying to stay in the palace by the river for the party in power; successor, the toughest campaign, offering continuity.” But first, there is ambition. But anyone audacious enough to run knows already how to bluff. Then, one has to project grit and determination.
Rudy “Digong” Duterte is a tease but the ride paints him as the anti-thesis, the anti-establishment candidate. The tease is such a ride that people compare him to the boy who cried wolf, while others see in him the complexity of a shrewd warrior, setting himself apart from the rest and yet, always surprising people. Duterte is the wild card of 2016, a wild card that can mean a fall out, a shutout or a win.
The Greenbelt incident though is an unnerving tease. Disheveled and all, Duterte walks on a Sunday evening in an Ayala mall in Metro Manila and mall rats chant his name. This is a sign that he has traction in the metropolis. For the mall visitors to approach him and get selfies in a snobbish setting is another sign of the non-masa wanting him to consider December 10 (date of substitution) seriously. That was the Sunday after the filing. And as soon as the collective sigh was made, immediately a fresh smile comes upon supporters and the air is once again full of excitement. Will he? Won’t he?
And so the wild card is played on a deck of highly charged atmosphere where one candidate has been checked with three DQ cases, another threatened of being jailed with lawyers, like headless chicken, fighting it out whether the VP has immunity and the recent player being asked for her medical certificate while the successor goes around town campaigning, plastering every intersection with huge posters claiming to high heavens virtues that contradict putting up the posters and spending hundreds of millions to shore up the polls.
Interestingly, a friend who did an NCR survey being shared online (yes, it is authentic) showed stunning results. This was shared October 19 via text. The survey was done during the weekend after filing at 1,200 respondents: Poe 31%, Binay 30%, Roxas 12%, Santiago 12%. And with Duterte as substitute: Duterte 33%, Binay 21% Poe 13% and Roxas 7%. What would be your analysis? NCR is not a Roxas country. Santiago, not doing any heavy lifting, is at par with Roxas, who has done a lot of heavy pumping. Poe and Binay are statistically tied in NCR. Duterte has traction in NCR and he leads everyone, if his name is added (no declaration re substitution yet) and Binay holds on to his core.
The vice president derby had Escudero 37%, Marcos 23% and Cayetano 17%. A huge jump for Marcos when compared to the results from the commercial survey firms. Will Cayetano get a lift from the wild card, if he substitutes? Will Marcos gain more if the Santiago-Marcos tandem is finally sealed? Will Escudero suffer with the filing of DQs against Poe? And as has been stated before, the vice presidential contest is quite exciting with no mud being thrown by any candidate yet. Hope, they offer a much better narrative than what the candidates at the presidential derby are showing.
Another non-commissioned survey will be on the ground this week. The survey is designed and funded by Publicus Asia Inc. via its Vox Opinion Research arm. The survey uses a homegrown survey application that speeds up data encoding and crunching, limiting fieldwork to three days. This survey will be in vote rich areas and another, in rural areas by November. Publicus shared to the public its non-commissioned survey titled, PolMindscape2, a nationwide psychographics study on Filipino voters, 18-45 years old.
Why are non-commissioned surveys important in a democracy? Because there are no subscribers, survey periods are unknown so one does not measure intervention but the latent strength of a candidate. It is not 3 or 4 weeks delayed but in real time thereby lessening the impact of spin and propaganda and enabling the candidate to design an effective response to real data not dated. Imagine a campaign team reacting to data three to four weeks delayed and coming up with a wrong reading and a wrong response? That can maim a candidate and his/her team.
So how could one measure a wild card if survey results are three to four weeks delayed from the fieldwork? The wild card loses the edge because of the quarterbacking of media assets by various camps.
And that is why; post-filing of the COC, the wild card is still being played. Duterte is mud free despite initial attacks from the Liberal Party on the alleged cancer as well as the sudden release of a COA report on ghost employees. Of course, there is also talk of pledges not materializing and donors staying away because of the sudden flexing of muscles by the national incumbents.
Still, campaign teams miss the point. A Duterte running can alter the field but a Duterte running for mayor of Davao is a strong Duterte influencing 2016. He can swing his support. He can frame the debate. He can retell the Mindanao and Bisaya narratives that only he can authentically carry. Initially, the strength of a Duterte was low when measured outside of Manila. Today, a Duterte that has not filed has more than traction in Manila. Another survey run and we can see if he has a base in imperialist Manila. Imagine what a Duterte brings into the national stage? And these donors play the Davao City mayor like their old proverbial toys. He won’t dance, he won’t ask. So to the donors, what is it for you with a Duterte run? Ever think of country? Ever think of Mindanao and the Bisaya? Or would you rather shell out money for your interests that will be protected by a scion of your class? His birthright? There are two glaring executive experiences in the 2016 field, both coming from the local governments. You know that the best presidents this country ever had came from people with executive experiences and not from the policy world or from the so called decision makers so hang up with the Ostrich principle.
“The history of a presidential campaigning is a history of vulgarization and pandering, of permanent democratization. Every time the rules or media are changed, more daylight is let in, and the old elites complain about a lowering of standards and the loss of reverence. Democracy inevitably constrains reverence, and that is all to the good, because scrutiny by citizens is a better test of candidates than selection by political elites.”