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Social Climate

Heed the survey dates

/ 05:14 AM September 02, 2017

Those who ask “Why does the Duterte administration continue to do well in opinion polls, considering xxx [things unpleasant that have happened]?” make the fundamental mistake of disregarding the dates of the said polls.

In the case of SWS, the latest survey of public opinion about governance was last June. It has nothing to report regarding July or August. It cannot say whether the administration scored well, or poorly, in those months.

The Social Weather Survey cycle. The nationwide Social Weather Surveys are the regular vehicle for the SWS reports to the public about the social, economic and political situation of the Philippines. These have been quarterly since 1992, from semiannual in 1986-91. (SWS has other, ad hoc, surveys, too; they are different.)

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Two Social Weather Surveys have been fielded in 2017 so far—one on March 25-28, and a second on June 23-26. The March round led to 22 reports, publicly released in April, May and June. The June round produced 10 releases, from July up to last Tuesday, and will yield another dozen or so in weeks to come.

A single survey generates many reports because it carries many data items. The June 2017 survey had, as usual, two questionnaires—one with 32 items addressed to the household head, plus 31 background items about the household, and a second with 183 items addressed to a random adult of the household, plus 35 backgrounders about the said adult. The household head and the random adult are sometimes the same person. All reports from one survey carry the same reference fieldwork period.

Long ago, SWS used to present an entire Social Weather Report in a single quarterly public seminar. But the audiences could not absorb the breadth of the data. Media people would only select a few “newsworthy” bits. There would be a flurry of reportage, and then dead air for three months.

The next cycle. September is the last month of the quarter. In two weeks, the full questionnaire for the next Social Weather Survey will be done. Before the end of the month, the field force will have implemented it nationwide.

By early October the media releases from the September 2017 round will begin, starting as usual with the performance rating of the President. It will be the first to follow the June 2017 presidential rating, which was reported on July 10, 2017.

All items in the core questionnaire—i.e., items repeated in every round, such as the President’s rating—have a three-month interval between reports. SWS has no presidential rating for July 2017 or August 2017, and will not speculate about it.

One can assume, of course, that the July and August ratings both stayed at the level of June. This will prove correct if the September rating turns out equal to the June rating. But if, for example, the September rating turns out to be 3 points below that of June, then apparently it fell by 1 point per month. On the other hand, if September turns out 3 points above June, then apparently it rose by 1 point per month.

A quarterly change of only 3 points is tiny. The (net) rating of Fidel Ramos fell from +50 to +24 between December 1994 and March 1995; Joseph Estrada, from +65 to +28 between October and December 1999; Gloria Arroyo, from -38 to -53 between December 2009 and March 2010; and Noynoy Aquino, from +39 to +11 between December 2014 and March 2015.

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The straightforward way to ascertain ratings monthly is to do surveys monthly in the first place. This is only a matter of affordability. The media companies should execute or else sponsor such surveys.

Contact mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

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TAGS: Duterte, Inquirer Opinion, Social Climate, survey, SWS
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