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The usefulness of election surveys



Grace Poe
Grace Poe

SURVEYS if conducted by professionals and executed with integrity are gauge of the sentiments of the people.

I have to stress “executed with integrity” because during election season, there are surveys and surveys. One has to check on the background of the survey firms, who commissioned the survey as well as the questions asked.

As Sen. Grace Poe said, thanking her supporters for their trust that put her as the frontrunner among presidential aspirants, “Surveys help us check if we’re on the right track.”

But she said, “We derive our inspiration from the needs and aspirations of our country, with or without surveys.”

Poe declared her presidential candidacy for the 2016 elections last Sept. 16.  The next day, fellow senator who is also known as her mentor, Chiz Escudero, announced that he is Poe’s running mate.

The Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia released last week their latest surveys. SWS conducted their survey last Sept. 2 to 5 while Pulse Asia started their poll earlier, Aug. 27 up to Sept. 3.

In both SWS and Pulse Asia polls, Poe was the frontrunner followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in the third place.

The most significant in both surveys is the huge jump of  the ratings of Roxas, who used to be a perennial cellar dweller. Although Roxas  is still number three,  analysts say that the  huge  increase  of his numbers  have put him  in  a “statistical tie” with Poe and Binay, whose numbers have gone down significantly since the investigation of alleged anomalies in the Makati City building projects.

Jojo Binay
Jojo Binay

In fact, in one survey of SWS, which asked for three names on “Best leaders to succeed President Aquino in 2016”, Roxas was number two, overtaking Binay for the first time.

The survey was criticized by those knowledgeable on surveys for asking for three names when the position is only for one person.

While surveys are used by candidates to find out their strength and weaknesses and  plan their campaign guided by the findings, its most important use is for businessmen-contributors.

Businessmen rely on surveys to decide who to give the most donation (they try to give to all candidates). Reliable sources said San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon Ang has thrown his support for  Poe and so are at least four other businessmen, who are known to be major election contributors.

Sen. Alan Cayetano’s lackluster survey ratings, despite his non-stop TV ads for almost a year, is the reason why he has lowered his sight to being running mate of  Roxas, who has not yet  obtained  the imprimatur of President Aquino .

Dr.  Segundo Romero, who provides consultancy services on governance, likens surveys to a thermometer, a tool that measures temperature — how hot or cold the place or something is.

Mar Roxas
Mar Roxas

However the more manipulative candidates try to influence survey findings.

Romero said, if that happens, the survey is no longer a thermometer. It becomes a  thermostat – an automatic device for regulating temperature (as by controlling the supply of gas or electricity to a heating apparatus).

Candidates employ experienced pollsters in their campaign staff who advise the kind of events to hold close to the dates the survey would be conducted.

The formulation of the question is an important factor in the survey results.

Surveys to be truly reflective of the people’s sentiments have to be free of manipulation.

Otherwise, naglolokohan lang tayo.