Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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When outcome differs from survey results

Go out and vote! If you don’t, you have no business complaining about how our country is being run.

For the past several months, these last few days in particular, you have been bombarded constantly by all sorts of propaganda about the various candidates running for the presidency and the vice presidency.

Keep an open mind. Do not accept hook, line and sinker everything that is said, positive or negative, regarding these individuals. In an election campaign, part of the problem voters face is how to separate the grain from the chaff. As we exercise prudence and caution in making judgments, let us also consider that many of those running for office do possess high ideals and are often motivated by a genuine desire to serve.

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As you prepare to cast your ballot, clear your mind by getting rid of much of the debris that may have accumulated up there and ask yourself only one question:

What is the main issue that concerns you most in terms of family and country? We may have other doubts and anxieties but for this moment as you fill in your ballot, concentrate on the one issue that worries you most.

Personally, what is my main concern?

We need to improve the peace and order situation not only in our respective communities, but also around the country. We have many good laws but enforcement is poor or virtually nonexistent. We often read of higher penalties being proposed for certain criminal activities when actually the problem is the lack of enforcement rather than fear of heavier penalties. Depending on the leadership, greater police presence in the community could lead to better enforcement of our laws. We rarely see a policeman walking the streets or patrol cars moving around in residential areas.

The slow and uneven pace of our criminal justice system is part of the problem of law enforcement. Criminal elements are aware that the so-called “long arm” of the law may be long and far-reaching but unfortunately, it is also painfully slow and, in many cases, favors the rich and affluent who are in a position to delay and frustrate the implementation of decisions reached by the courts.

This is one reason why many of our people from the poor and marginalized sectors of society respond to the call of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who promises swift action against all criminals, including drug lords. They do not care if his manners are boorish and insensitive. He speaks in a language they clearly understand. He dresses up the way most of us do. I have not seen him in a barong or coat and tie. They do not care if he tells diplomats to “shut up.” For one thing, they do not feel that their lives have improved substantially under leaders who were refined and well-bred, who spoke eloquently in perfect English or whose sense of humor was always clean and wholesome.

Unless the peace and order situation throughout the country improves and this includes stopping the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings in Mindanao, we are not going to attract significant foreign investments that would result in job creation for our people and a more inclusive economic growth for the country.

Having stated my main concern, Rodrigo Duterte is the candidate who can address this issue with competence and determination.

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Once you have decided on the issue that bothers you most, you can proceed to make your choice.

* * *

Poll surveys are quite often accurate. But if you listen to politicians they believe in surveys only when they are leading such survey. They belittle the findings if they are on the losing end.

In 2015, the United Kingdom held parliamentary elections to select a new government. Preelection poll surveys and political commentators predicted that the outcome would be “too close to call,” resulting in a deadlock with the Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron having to govern in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Instead, confounding the pundits, the Conservatives defeated Labor, winning an outright majority although by only a few votes.

Perhaps, the best example of how preelection surveys can go so wrong is the 1948 US presidential election.

In 1948, US President Harry Truman, who succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt after FDR died of cerebral hemorrhage, was running for reelection. His Republican opponent was New York governor, Thomas Dewey, making his second attempt to win the White House. Another presidential candidate was Gov. Strom Thurmond, who led a group of southern democrats, calling themselves “Dixiecrats.” A fourth candidate was a former commerce secretary, Henry Wallace, who ran under the Progressive Party with strong communist support.

Using a private railroad car dubbed the “Ferdinand Magellan,” Truman traveled some 22,000 miles, almost as far as the voyage of Magellan, going cross-country in what became famous as the “Whistlestop” campaign.

On the other hand, Dewey’s train was called the “Dewey Victory Special,” and the dominating strategy was to say as little as possible. “When you are leading, don’t talk,” he would tell politicians who visited him. The thing to do was not to open up any controversy since Dewey was, according to a Time Magazine report, “as good as elected.”

At the start of the campaign, a survey report showed Dewey leading Truman by a resounding 51-37 percent. A Gallup poll gave Dewey 47 percent as against 38 percent for Truman. An Elmo Roper poll (a widely-respected outfit sampling public opinion) showed Dewey leading by an unbeatable 44-31 percent. Three weeks before election day, a poll of 50 highly-regarded political writers was taken on who they thought would win the election. The vote was unanimous; 50 for Dewey, 0 for Truman.

In the end, “the man from Missouri” defeated Dewey by over 2 million votes. He carried 28 states with a total of 303 electoral votes, while Dewey won in 16 states with 189 electoral votes. It was the greatest upset in American political history.

One of the most famous pictures to come out of the campaign was that of President Truman holding aloft a copy of the Chicago Tribune with the headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Grinning from ear to ear, he seemed to be saying, “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers.”

* * *

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Duterte won’t make it. I’m saying  that destiny determines these things, not surveys.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf kidnappings, cerebral hemorrhage, economic growth, Elections 2016, foreign investments, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gov. Strom Thurmond, Mindanao, New York governor, reelection, survey, Thomas Dewey, US President Harry Truman, White House
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