SWS statistics about the INC | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

SWS statistics about the INC

/ 12:45 AM September 05, 2015

Recent events make it opportune to assemble some data from the Social Weather Stations archives on persons identifying their religion as Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). One source is the SWS/TV5 Exit Poll of 2010, involving 52,573 respondents (see “The massive TV5-SWS exit poll,” Opinion, 5/22/10). Another is a merged file of six quarterly SWS national surveys, from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2015, involving 7,800 respondents.

How many were the INC voters in 2010? Statistics about the voting strength of the INC are available only from private surveys, since the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no data on voters’ religion as of when they register, much less as of when they vote.


By the Comelec count for the 2010 elections, 36.14 million votes were cast for president, excluding stray votes for invalid candidates. By the SWS/TV5 Exit Poll of 2010, 4.23 percent of the valid votes for president were cast by people who declared their religion as INC. Multiplying the two gives an estimated 1.53 million votes of INCs for president in 2010.

According to the Comelec, 35.17 million valid votes were cast for vice president in 2010. By the SWS/TV5 Exit Poll, 4.28 percent of such votes were cast by self-identified INCs. Multiplying the two gives an estimated 1.51 million votes of INCs for vice president in 2010.


Thus the proportionate strength of INC voters was about four and one-fourth percent of the electorate in 2010. My guess is that it will be the same in 2016. Assuming population growth of 2 percent per year, a number of 1.5 million votes in May 2010 would become 1.7 million votes by May 2016. This does not allow for either conversions to INC or withdrawals from INC. So I think that the claim of 2.0 million INC votes for 2016 is an overstatement.

How solid was the INC vote in 2010? In the presidential election, according to the exit poll, Catholics went 43.4 percent for Noynoy Aquino and 28.2 percent for Erap Estrada, whereas INCs went 77.1 percent for Aquino and 12.0 percent for Estrada. The 77 percent is the extent of unity of the INC vote—not 100 percent, but quite a lot.

In the vice presidential election, on the other hand, Catholics went 43.8 percent for Jejomar Binay and 39.8 percent for Mar Roxas, whereas INCs went 17.6 percent for Binay and 73.8 percent for Roxas. Roxas’ great 56-point advantage among INCs did not overcome Binay’s mere 4-point advantage among Catholics, since Catholics were over 74 percent of the voters.

In the 2010 election, “only 65 percent of Aquino-voters voted for Roxas, while 26 percent of them voted for Binay. However, 72 percent of Estrada-voters voted for Binay, and only 12 percent voted for Roxas. Binay was the top VP choice of voters for all other presidential candidates besides Aquino” (“The historic TV5-SWS exit poll,” Opinion, 5/15/10). Interestingly, the INC is now being courted by Binay, and not by Roxas.

In the 2010 senatorial elections, the top 12 candidates of the INCs (followed by their INC vote percentage in the exit poll) were: Bong Revilla (79), Jinggoy Estrada (76), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (72), Juan Ponce Enrile (68), Frank Drilon (68), Pia Cayetano (64), Bongbong Marcos (64), Tito Sotto (60), Lito Lapid (60), Ruffy Biazon (60), Ralph Recto (59), and TG Guingona (57). They all won, except Biazon.

The one not favored by INCs was Serge Osmeña—29 percent among Catholics and only 13 percent among INCs—who nonetheless won, in 10th place. The effect of the INC vote was to raise Recto and Sotto over Osmeña. Biazon, tied with Risa Hontiveros at 12th among Catholics, was displaced by Lapid, who was a strong sixth among Muslims.

What has been the “social weather” among INCs since 2014? In any single SWS national survey, only a handful in the sample are INCs. But the merged file of six SWS national surveys, covering all of 2014 and half of 2015, contains 7,800 respondents, of whom 229 are INCs. For the findings below, based on the merged file, the error margin for INCs is plus or minus 6.5 percentage points. The data pertain to adults aged 18 and up, whether or not registered to vote.


  • INCs are slightly more urbanized than average Filipinos. Sixty percent of them reside in urban areas, compared to 56 percent of Catholics, 33 percent of Muslims, and 45 percent of other Christians.
  • INCs tend to be more middle-educated. Those that graduated from high school but not college are 52 percent, compared to 45 percent among Catholics. Those that did not finish high school are 36 percent, versus 43 percent among Catholics. But INCs and Catholics are alike in terms of finishing college.
  • There is less self-rated poverty among INC families, at only 44 percent, versus 53 percent among Catholics, 53 percent among other Christians, and 58 percent among Muslims.
  • INCs are more pessimistic about the economy: 28 percent of them expect it to worsen after a year, compared to only 18 percent of Catholics.
  • On the other hand, INCs (net +38) are equally as optimistic as Catholics (net +32) with respect to their personal future.
  • INCs are very much like Catholics in terms of satisfaction with governance. The following numbers are all net ratings (percent satisfied minus percent dissatisfied) of the officials named, by INCs versus Catholics: President Aquino, +34 versus +27; Vice President Jejomar Binay, +51 versus +50; and Secretary Mar Roxas, +48 versus +51.

In 2016, will INCs vote as instructed by their hierarchy, like before?

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The merging and tabulation of the special file of six surveys were done by Josefina Mar of SWS.

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TAGS: 2010 elections, Catholics, Comelec, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Iglesia voters, Social Weather Stations
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