We don’t exaggerate
In the 10/8/17 report by Social Weather Stations, “Pres. Duterte’s Net Satisfaction Rating Falls to ‘Good’ +48,” the fall was significant—since the rating had been Very Good three months earlier—but not tragic. Calling it a “free fall” or a “plunge” is exaggerated.
Exaggeration is anyone’s right to do; it’s part of free speech. But it detracts from the quality of applied science. SWS tries hard to avoid it.
In “Observing public satisfaction” (Opinion, 10/14/17), I pointed out that the Good rating meant that the presidential honeymoon continued into September. But after another quarter, what might happen is anyone’s guess. SWS does not extrapolate; we just wait and see what comes out of the next survey.
Anyone with an interest has the right to forecast future ratings of the President. SWS has many other things to do instead.
We focus on what seems to have happened over time, according to our measurements. Being confident about our methodology, we do not worry about comparing our measurements with those of other people.
On 10/19/17, SWS posted another report, “Net Satisfaction of the Duterte National Administration at ‘Very Good’ +58.” It was based on the same survey, done on Sept. 23-27. It is consistent with the Oct. 8 report, since the two reports were based on the same respondents.
The +58 of September was below the +64 of June, but SWS does not stress the difference, since both are within its range for Very Good (from +50 to +69). What we do say, in a bullet point, is that the rating is Excellent in Mindanao (+70 or more) and Very Good in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, and Visayas.
Satisfaction with the general performance of an administration is correlated, but not identical, to satisfaction with the personal performance of the president. We learn more by asking about satisfaction with performance in a number of subjects, and use the answers to generate a Report Card of the administration’s performance.
The September 2017 Report Card has 17 specific subjects, each with its own satisfaction rating, or grade. In order of performance, the four subjects Helping the poor, Protecting the environment, Defending the country’s territorial rights, and Providing jobs are all graded Very Good (from +50 to +69). The best subject of Helping the poor has a grade of +67. Protecting the environment was upgraded from Good when last surveyed in March 2015.
The eight subjects Distributing lands to deserving tillers under land reform, Fighting terrorism, Protecting human rights, Foreign relations, Reconciling with Muslim rebels, Eradicating graft and corruption, Reconciling with communist rebels, and Fighting crimes have Good (from +30 to +49) grades. Human rights was downgraded from Very Good in June. Land reform was downgraded from Very Good when last previously surveyed in September 2016.
Then come five subjects, Ensuring that no family will be hungry, Recovering the ‘hidden wealth’ stolen by Marcos and his cronies, Resolving the traffic problem, Solving the problem of extrajudicial killings or EJK, and Fighting inflation, with Moderate (from +10 to +29) grades. The worst subject, inflation, has a grade of +21. The subjects of EJK and hunger were both downgraded from Good in June.
The people’s grades of the administration’s performance at any given point in time, as well as changes in the grades across different points in time, both depend on the subject matter. Grades are not rigid.
Taking careful account of the dynamics of public opinion on various subjects is a tool for rendering better service to the citizenry. Muddling the accounts by exaggerations is a disservice to the people.
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