“Many things can still happen between now and May 9.”
There are four data points to consider in predicting the results of the 2022 elections. First, who is dominating the internet and social media? On this, there seems to be a parity. Marcos disinformation dominated social media platforms but this is being neutralized. Google Trends predicts a Robredo victory but there is no Philippine data in past elections to support this.
Second, attendance in rallies is a good gauge of the strength of a campaign and clearly Robredo has the lead on this.
Third, endorsements by individual politicians and political groups are critical and there seems to be also parity in this area.
Finally, election surveys that are well conducted and following the best scientific practices have had reasonable success in predicting election results.
In the March Pulse Asia survey, VP Leni Robredo was able to raise her numbers to 24, gaining 9 total percentage points and gaining support nearly across all regions and all socio-economic classes. The latest OCTA survey, for field work conducted in early April, shows that the momentum seems to have been blunted.
Meanwhile, Robredo’s rallies continue to turn pink from province to province, the most recent of which was the Pasay City birthday rally of VP Leni which saw 400,000 plus citizens coming together to show their support. Endorsements have also come in for VP Leni – the De Venecias in Pangasinan and many Mindanao leaders including just last Friday the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In my view, Robredo is now competitive in Mindanao and leads in Bicol and Western Visayas. Marcos leads in Northern Luzon and Eastern Visayas. But while the numbers favor Marcos in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, and Central Luzon, Robredo can overtake him. I think Cebu is also like Mindanao, competitive.
In an online article, I observed that the Robredo rallies are organic and volunteer driven, unlike the Marcos-Duterte sorties which are machinery driven and do not seem to be spontaneously organized. I pointed out that the nearest comparison to this significant phenomenon are the Duterte rallies in 2016 which started with intense activity in social media and led to similar big rallies before finally Duterte catching up in the surveys by mid-April. He kept that lead up to the end and won by a large margin in 2016.
It should be said that there is always a possibility that the surveys this time are mistaken—that the random sampling methodologies used are faulty and outdated or that the results are distorted because of special circumstances of the pandemic or the hyper partisan atmosphere. But any good political operative would not ignore the data and should be guided by it.
In any case, many things can happen between now and May 9, the day of the elections that could make voters change their mind in the last weekend before elections. The last surveys won’t be able to capture these last-minute events.
The war in Ukraine could escalate and intensify and could propel foreign policy to the top of campaign issues. The disqualification case against Marcos could reach a critical moment soon when the Comelec en banc decides with finality the four cases. But it won’t end there as petitions in the Supreme Court appealing the Comelec decisions will be filed and most probably in the week before the elections.
While Robredo’s big rallies are good and should be continued, the most obvious task is to scale up the house-to-house campaign that Robredo volunteers have been doing. The country has over 42,000 barangays which must all be covered in the final 14 days.
In my online article, I observed that almost everyone I know personally and professionally, from progressive and militant organizations to business and church leaders I give election briefings to, and of course my undergraduate, law, police, and military students, are for Robredo-Pangilinan. But many voters I asked at random, such as security guards, delivery persons, grocery people, baristas, etc are for Marcos-Duterte.
Nevertheless, in the course of conversations with these Marcos supporters, discounting the most rabid Marcos loyalists, I find that the Marcos support is shallow, not firm, and ripe for conversion to other candidates.
In that online article, I emphasized the role of the Catholic Church. My impression is that most bishops, priests, and religious are in favor of the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket. I encourage them to take an active role in nonpartisan voter’s education, something that I am doing in my election talks to diverse groups. I do not endorse candidates in my talks but I articulate principles that should guide voting and apply them to all the candidates so that the voters can decide for themselves who are the best leaders for the Philippines. While I am with those who would not want to see the pulpit – through Sunday sermons for example – used to endorse specific candidates, if the bishop or the parish priest would like to write a letter endorsing a candidate, that would be fine as long as it is not read during church services.
14 days to go! Nobody should give up on their candidate!
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