“No one should be complicit in the propagation of the falsehood.”
Opinion surveys inevitably give rise to leaders and laggards as survey respondents give expression to their preferences. The leaders are called frontrunners and the laggards are called tail-enders.
Social Weather Stations (SWS), Pulse Asia – False Asia to its critics – and the other lesser opinion-survey organizations insist with utmost fervor that the results of their surveys are not intended to produce a bandwagon effect – or the opposite thereof. Still, that is exactly the effect that the designation of individuals as frontrunners or tailenders produces among people whose support they seek.
Despite SWS’ and Pulse Asia’s ardent declarations that they intended no such effect, that is exactly what is happening in this year’s electoral contest for the presidency of the Philippines. The supporters of one of the candidates for that office, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – a.k.a. Bongbong Marcos and BBM – are strongly suggesting that, with 55 percent of the responses in the Pulse Asia survey favoring the son of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, their boy has become the frontrunner in the coming Presidential election. Come aboard the Marcos bandwagon, BBM and his gang are now saying to the voters in not-so-subtle fashion.
Has a Marcos-is-winning bandwagon effect been brought into being by the opinion-survey organizations’ designation of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the frontrunner in their surveys? That seems to be the case. In media reports and commentaries on the contest for the Presidency BBM is referred to with increasing frequency as the ‘frontrunner,’ and some normally careful personages lately have taken to discussing his candidacy in frontrunnership terms. Such is the situation that a discerning observer is led to ask, as the title of the popular 1990s song does, “What’s going on?”
Is Bongbong Marcos the ‘frontrunner’ in the current contest for the Presidency? He is the frontrunner, yes, but only in the opinion surveys; he is, yes, the frontrunner in the collective opinion of 1,400 men and women composing the survey sample. But Bongbong Marcos, the Golden Age Boy, is not the frontrunner in the collective preference of approximately 62 million eligible voters. Being the No.1 presidential preference of 1,400 Filipinos is definitely not the same as being the No.1 preference of 62 million Filipinos.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is not, I repeat not, the frontrunner in the 2022 contest for the position of President of the Philippines. To repeat, he definitely is the frontrunner in the voter-opinion surveys, but voter-opinion surveys are a far cry from the May 9 election. To suggest, as Mr. Marcos’s supporters are doing, that being the frontrunner in the former is the same as being the frontrunner in the latter is to engage in a grand but ultimately futile deception.
People opposed to BBM’s candidacy who occasionally slip and refer to him as the frontrunner – as even some fellow-journalists sadly do – should stop doing so. No one should be complicit in the propagation of the falsehood that the dictator’s son is the frontrunner in the current contest for the Presidency. The frontrunner he is not.