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Surveys and election results

May 16, 2019

ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

THE people have spoken, and the votes are in. For some candidates, the verdict has already been formalized and sealed with proclamations as well as concessions. For others, it may not be the end. There is still the remedy of filing an electoral protest.

The political opposition painted the midterm elections as a referendum on the President. Indeed it was, as it appears to be a resounding affirmation of his high approval ratings. Meanwhile, the candidates of Otso Diretso are struggling to land a seat in the Senate, a feat whose chances appear to be bleak, as the pro-Duterte candidates are poised to take all the contested seats, effectively shutting out the opposition slate.

But it is not only the political opposition that is unhappy with the results. Many pro-Duterte voters are not happy that Grace Poe still won, and some of them are also unhappy that Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla appear to be winning. Others would rather see JV Ejercito in the Senate than Koko Pimentel.

And these are people who were pushing for candidates like Jiggy Manicad, Willie Ong, Glenn Chong, Larry Gadon and Toti Casiño. They made their preferences felt in online surveys, and reinforced these in social media posts. These are people who mistrust the surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and other survey firms, and label these as some form of mind conditioning, if not, conduits for election operators to influence the outcome of the election. They would rather place their trust in online surveys drawn from samples that are not randomly selected, and are therefore unscientific.

If there is one thing that can be said about election surveys, it is that the May 3-6 survey released by Pulse Asia accurately predicted those that had a good chance of winning. In fact, the survey correctly projected the ranks of 10 out of the 12 candidates in the Magic 12. Pulse Asia projected Cynthia Villar to top the elections, and it appears she has done so. Grace Poe was projected to be either second or third, and it appears she is ranked second. Bong Go, projected to rank third to seventh, is now third. Pia Cayetano who now ranks fourth was correctly projected to be ranked either third or fourth. Bato dela Rosa was projected to be between fourth and ninth place, and he is now in fifth. Sonny Angara who was projected to rank fifth to tenth is now at sixth. Lito Lapid occupies the seventh slot, which is within the fourth to ninth place which he was projected to obtain. Imee Marcos was projected to land from the sixth to 14th place, and she is now safely placed on the eighth slot. Koko Pimentel occupies the 11th slot after being projected to occupy the ninth to 15th slot. And Nancy Binay, who was projected to rank eighth to 15th, is now hovering over the 12th slot.

The two candidates which the Pulse Asia survey somewhat wrongly projected, although still within the winning circle, are Francis Tolentino and Bong Revilla. Tolentino was projected to land in the 10th to 15th slot, but ended up placing ninth, while Revilla, who was projected to occupy the fourth to eighth slot, now hovers around the 10th slot.

The results of the unofficial and partial tallies drawn from the election returns can now therefore be interpreted as a validation of the reliability of Pulse Asia’s survey results. This is because the discrepancy in the projection for Tolentino and Revilla can be attributed to the fact that their survey numbers were simply snapshots of the behavior of the electorate during the survey period, and that may have changed on the day of the election.

Those who argue that candidates who rated highly in online surveys should have received higher votes must realize that online surveys, where the respondents are not randomly selected, are not as reliable compared to those that are conducted on a sample that is drawn randomly to truly represent the population. It must be impressed on them that 1,800 individuals that are randomly chosen in a scientific manner can capture the behavior of the entire electorate, while an online survey where the respondents self-select themselves can only provide a biased view. It is a view that is limited only to those who have access to the internet, and have social media accounts.

If at all, the results of online surveys reflect only the voting preferences of the social media community, and not the entire electorate. Taken in the context of the actual election results as shown in the partial unofficial tallies, it can then be safely said that the preference of the social media community does not truly represent the general view of the electorate, even as the results of online surveys do not capture that reality.

Aside from online surveys, campus surveys conducted inside the universities also yielded results that were different from the results of the partial unofficial tallies. These are surveys that were dominated by the Otso Diretso candidates. This is probably because the students who participated in these surveys were not registered voters, and even if they were, they probably did not vote.

However, unlike results of online surveys, the campus surveys mimicked the bailiwick effect in the results of Camarines Sur and Naga City, which are both Leni Robredo country. In Naga City, all Otso Diretso candidates landed in the magic 12. In Camarines Sur, only Florin Hilbay did not make it to the winning circle. Thus, while the results of the campus surveys, and that of Robredo’s bailiwick, may not reflect the national sentiment, they nevertheless captured the real sentiments of an opposition territory. University campuses, Naga City and Camarines Sur definitely delivered for Otso Diretso. Unfortunately, the rest of the Republic disagreed with them.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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