Surveys do not capture ground realities | Inquirer Opinion

Surveys do not capture ground realities

/ 04:05 AM March 02, 2022

An election rally is held so that a candidate can get as many votes as possible by talking, singing, dancing, etc. It doesn’t matter if one dances like John Travolta or a gorilla, talks like Barack Obama or a barangay idiot, etc. The larger the crowd, the better for a candidate. This straightforward exercise determines whether a candidate can win. One who cannot hold an election rally because there is no assurance a vast crowd of supporters will come is easily written off. This is especially true if the targeted attendees are volunteers or they come to show support without any remuneration, in cash or in kind.

From the above perspective, an election rally is even better than a survey as a predictor of an election outcome or who among the candidates will come out triumphant. Of course, a survey, if done properly, is okay, particularly for social science purposes.

There is science in making use of an election rally as a predictor of elections. The estimated number of people present or the attendance is a reliable and valid indicator. No need to calculate percentages and come up with the corresponding rankings. And this analysis and report writing phase takes some time, and is open to hocus-pocus to favor a candidate. In an election rally amidst thousands upon thousands of warm bodies, a final conclusion can be made in real time: whether a candidate is a sure loser, has a fighting chance, or is already a runaway winner. A survey is limited to a presentation of numbers and percentages in narratives and metrics or infographics.

In this presidential election where volunteers hold sway for the first time in Philippine history, a survey cannot capture the ground realities. The massive crowd and electric energy in VP Leni’s rallies are beyond a survey. This phenomenon requires another research methodology like a focus group discussion. What is appropriate is a mix of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. No surveyor or pollster can show to the public the numbers and percentages in the flesh and, more importantly, their opinions or the why and wherefores of their preferences. And as rightfully observed by many, a survey is only a snapshot of the moment, like a selfie. Anything can happen between the time it is taken and election day.

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TAGS: Election surveys, Letters to the Editor, nono felix

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