Putting Leni on top

posted April 26, 2016 at 12:01 am
by  Jojo Robles
Perhaps because Mar is so hard to sell and to force through as a winning presidential candidate, the powers that be seem to have decided that maybe it’s easier to get away with allowing Leni to win. And at least one of the major survey companies seems to have been enlisted full time in this effort.

Leni Robredo ended up on top of the heap in the latest survey of vice presidential candidates conducted by Social Weather Stations. The only thing more incomprehensible than Robredo’s inexplicable ascent, after all, is if her running mate—the perennially bottom-feeding Mar Roxas—also topped a major survey for candidates of the presidency.

Survey companies often seek to find explanations for the data they gather, after the fact. Anticipating questions from the people who commissioned the surveys and from the general public, they point to events that impact on the popularity and other ratings that they produce, like a widely reported remark or a major natural disaster.

In the case of Robredo’s incredible rise, I failed to hear SWS’ explanation, other than the fact that the survey outfit has been seeing her steady in the polling outfit’s surveys. But Leni on top?

I have several issues with the latest survey from SWS, which routinely ignores critics of the unusual survey results it sometimes comes up with. Let me explain.

SWS has been pushing the envelope for some time now with its surveys, like the “pick three” poll. More recently, SWS hit upon the novel—but completely questionable—method of giving 120 people cellular phones, from which they would respond to questions about their voting preferences when asked by the polling outfit to do so.

In the first of these two strange surveys, SWS, by necessity, came up with a total of more than 100 percent in responses, simply because the respondents were asked to name not one, not two, but three choices. SWS has not bothered to explain how it decided on this unusual methodology, when actual voting is always limited to one candidate in presidential or similar races; I guess the fact that they never conducted a similar survey again is explanation enough.

As for its now-famous “mobile” survey, SWS got a lot of flak for coming up with results that were so skewed that it’s reasonable to expect that the outfit will not conduct a similar poll in the future. The fact that nearly half of all the people that SWS gave mobile phones to never took their calls again may have something to do with such a decision, as well.

* * *

My other complaint about the latest SWS survey—which was thoroughly “traditional,” based on what we’ve been told—is that it conforms to the findings of a similar poll conducted almost simultaneously by its major rival in the polling game, Pulse Asia. Only up to a very important point, however.

The SWS and Pulse surveys validated each other in the presidential race, with variances of one or two percentage points, something that is statistically unremarkable. Even in the two companies’ senatorial polling, the results were largely the same.

However, when it came to the vice presidential contest, SWS, as I’ve already said, came up with Robredo on top, leading her statistically tied rival Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. by a single point, 26 percent to 25 percent. The Pulse poll, which had a bigger respondent base and a smaller margin of error than SWS (4,000 respondents versus 1,800 and 1.5 percent against two percent) came up with Marcos ahead of Robredo by six points, 29 to 23.

The seven-percent difference represents a lot of variance, a difference of 3.5-million votes based on a voting population of 50 million. (Political strategists, though, routinely base their assumptions on 70-percent turnout on election day, which makes the Pulse-SWS difference a little less than three million votes—huge still, by any standard.)

Previous surveys—even the one conducted immediately before by SWS (March 30-April 2)—had Marcos leading the former frontrunner, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. At that time, SWS said, Marcos had 26 percent, compared to Escudero’s 21 percent and Robredo’s 19 percent; that was before the latest poll showed Robredo “leaping” (SWS’ word, not mine) by six percentage points, of course—even if there was no significant event involving her or her rivals to explain the leap.

I’d like to hear what Junie Laylo of Laylo Research, whom this newspaper commissions regularly to conduct our exclusive polling, comes up with in his latest survey. Laylo, after all, was the first major survey-taker to track Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s incredible (and now seemingly inexorable) rise to the top of the standings in the presidential voter-preference surveys—a position that he has yet to yield to his other rivals.

If Laylo comes up with numbers similar to Pulse Asia’s, then the conclusion will be clear: the plan to create a bandwagon effect to explain Robredo’s unexplainable rise is in the works—and SWS’ strange findings are part of the scheme.

Topics: putting Leni on top
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