Article Index |Advertise | Mobile | RSS | Wireless | Newsletter | Archive | Corrections | Syndication | Contact us | About Us| Services
  Breaking News :    
Robinsons Land Corp.
Radio on Inquirer.net

Get the free INQUIRER newsletter
Enter your email address:

Inquirer Opinion/ Columns Type Size: (+) (-)
You are here: Home > Opinion > Inquirer Opinion > Columns

     Reprint this article     Print this article  
    Send Feedback  
    Post a comment   Share  




Social Climate
When Filipinos have changed their minds

By Mahar Mangahas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:55:00 10/24/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Inquirer Politics

MANILA, Philippines ? Having formally announced this week that he will run for president in the next election, and assuming that he intends to win, Joseph ?Erap? Estrada is in effect aiming to convince a substantial proportion of voters to change their minds, between now and election day, as to whom they intend to vote for.

I say this on the supposition that Erap knows that he holds third place in the presidential race according to the latest SWS survey. I also suppose that he believes the survey, because last Wednesday he told his Tondo audience that one out of two Filipino families call themselves mahirap or poor, according to SWS. The former president is too principled to be one of those who use surveys selectively, accepting one part but rejecting another.

Convincing voters to change their minds is what campaigns are all about. Even candidates who think they are leading their races should work hard to defend their leads, i.e., to prevent their voters from changing their minds about them. The fact that standings in the races frequently change shows that in fact quite a few voters constantly exercise their right to reassess their choices.

Changes during the 1992 race. In the SWS election surveys, Fidel V. Ramos usually led Miriam Santiago by a few points. However, Miriam tied him at the end of March, after FVR had made a sudden, brief trip abroad, which I think rather puzzled the voters. At the beginning of May, FVR was again slightly ahead of Miriam; he eventually won by 23.6 percent to 19.7 percent in the official count. His winning margin of only 3.9 points was, at that time, the narrowest since 1946. (To compare elections properly, margins should always be figured in percentages, not in absolute numbers of votes.)

Two things in 1992 impressed me about how public opinion should not be taken for granted. One was Vice President Salvador ?Doy? Laurel?s being stuck in last place among the seven candidates. Evidently, the voters had never forgiven him for appearing too eager for Cory Aquino to be toppled by the various military coup attempts. After August 1987, Doy?s net satisfaction ratings were always below zero, and never surfaced again.

The second thing that impressed me was the steady rise in the standing of Eduardo ?Danding? Cojuangco, who eventually finished third, behind Miriam, but ahead of the pro-Cory Ramon Mitra and Jovito Salonga. It was an amazing comeback for such a well-known Marcos crony, whose trust ratings had been negative during all his years in exile after People Power I. (There?s a lesson here for National Democratic Front leader Jose Ma. Sison: you won?t get most Filipinos to trust you by staying abroad.)

Changes during the 1998 race. Erap led comfortably all the way. His win by a percentage score of 39.9 to 15.9 over Jose de Venecia Jr. equalled the 24-point margin of Ferdinand Marcos over Sergio Osmea Jr. in 1969, but was still far below the 38-point margin of Ramon Magsaysay over Elpidio Quirino in 1953. Erap had also led throughout the 1992 vice-presidential race, as Danding?s running mate?survey analysis showed that he got more from Danding?s voters than Danding got from Erap?s voters.

Yet JDV succeeded in changing the minds of quite a few voters. Up to late February, he was only fourth, behind Lito Osmea and Fred Lim, whom he had yet to overtake. Eventually the latter two faded, and yielded third place to Raul Roco.

Changes during the 2004 race. Fernando Poe Jr. led up to early February. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo caught up in late February, obviously on account of public doubts that her campaign had created as to FPJ?s being a natural-born Filipino. GMA fell behind again, slightly, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of FPJ, but by mid-April retook the lead after the news that Raul Roco, who had been consistently in third place, was suffering from cancer. Many Roco-voters switched to GMA, so that Roco eventually finished fourth, behind Panfilo ?Ping? Lacson. (Survey analysis showed that a Lacson withdrawal at this point would have swung the tide back to FPJ.)

GMA?s win of 40 percent to FPJ?s 36.5 percent in the official count, or by only 3.5 points, is the record-smallest margin; the election was under protest when FPJ suddenly died from a stroke in December 2004. By mid-2005, however, the emergence of the ?Hello Garci? tapes fundamentally changed the question of who really won, from whether GMA actually got more votes to whether she actually connived with Comelec Commissioner Vicente Garcillano to cheat. The unwillingness of the administration to allow the latter question to be answered is at the root of its unrelenting unpopularity.

Changes during the 2010 race. SWS has asked its ?three best successors to the presidency? question, with no list of candidates to prompt respondents, in 10 national surveys since September 2007. At first, Nos. 1 and 2 were Loren Legarda and Noli de Castro respectively. Then Noli became No. 1 for six consecutive surveys, followed by either Loren or Manny Villar. Then Villar became No. 1 for two consecutive surveys, the first time with Noli as No. 2, and the second time with Erap Estrada as No. 2.

In the latest survey of September 2009, the sudden No. 1 is Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III. Are the new No. 2 Villar and No. 3 Erap justified in thinking that Noynoy?s big lead is vulnerable to change?

History says that the minds of the electorate are not static. The sizes of their changes have been small, medium, large, and most recently extra-large. Bearing in mind the SWS motto quot homines tot sententiae, meaning as many opinions as there are people, let us see what we shall see.

* * *

Contact SWS: www.sws.org.ph or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk.
Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate.
Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer
Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets,
Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94





  ^ Back to top

© Copyright 2001-2015 INQUIRER.net, An INQUIRER Company

Services: Advertise | Buy Content | Wireless | Newsletter | Low Graphics | Search / Archive | Article Index | Contact us
The INQUIRER Company: About the Inquirer | User Agreement | Link Policy | Privacy Policy

Inquirer Mobile
Jobmarket Online
Inquirer VDO