P-Noy bounces up again
The popularity of President Aquino has fully recovered from the effects of the Mamasapano incident, given his new +41 net satisfaction rating, from the Social Weather Survey of Sept. 2-5, 2015. This is not only P-Noy’s second consecutive jump from his low of +11 in March, but also his best rating in over a year (“Aquino satisfaction best since Q1 2014,” BusinessWorld, 9/17/15). His March 2015 rating was barely Moderate (the SWS term for +10 to +29), and his June 2015 rating of +30 was borderline Good (+30 to +49). But his new September rating is solidly in the Good range.
Relative to last March, P-Noy’s net score rose from +7 to +18 in the National Capital Region (NCR), from -3 to +46 in the Balance of Luzon, from +30 to +50 in the Visayas, and from +25 to +39 in Mindanao. This means upgrades from Neutral (between -9 and +9) to Moderate in NCR, from Neutral to Good in the Balance of Luzon, from Good to Very Good (+50 to +69) in the Visayas, and from Moderate to Good in Mindanao.
With each quarterly survey, it is SWS policy that its first media release is the performance rating of the president. The next releases are the SWS own-account survey reports of voting preferences for president and vice president. At the time of writing this column (Thursday evening, 9/17/15), they have already been sent to BusinessWorld. After BW publication, the original SWS report, with requisite tables and charts, will be posted on the SWS webpage.
Following SWS tradition, these two voting items—which are noncommissioned and are included on SWS’ own account and responsibility—do not include any list of candidates to prompt the survey respondents about likely candidates to choose from. Since this system does not exclude any potential candidates, it is fair to all. The acceptance of as many as three names for president is the SWS way of bending over backward to identify as many potential candidates as possible. The new survey findings may then be compared to the earlier SWS surveys of March 2015 and June 2015, which used the same system.
The standard Social Weather Survey interview starts by asking if the respondent (a) has gotten better off or worse off since a year ago, (b) is personally optimistic about the year to come, (c) is optimistic about the economy, and (d) has followed certain specific news events. SWS considers these preliminary questions as mere ice-breakers that are unlikely to color a respondent’s political views. They are followed immediately by the question on satisfaction with the president’s performance, and the questions on preference, unguided by any list, for the next president and vice president of the country.
Since the official deadline for filing of candidacies for national positions is in mid-October, the names of the actual candidates in the 2016 election will be publicly known by the time of fielding of the fourth-quarter SWS survey, planned for sometime in November. Therefore the September round was the final time for SWS to use its no-list system of identifying voter preferences. Once the actual list of candidates is known, any surveyor should use it—unless the intention is to probe into special scenarios, such as death, pullout, or substitution.
The BW-SWS Pre-Election Surveys. The September 2015 SWS round also included BusinessWorld-commissioned items on voter preferences for president, vice president and senators, using candidate-lists supplied by BW. The question items use the standard phrasing “From this list, who would you probably vote for as [position] if the elections were held today?” These items are asked AFTER the SWS no-list items.
The SWS reports on these commissioned items are now being completed, for sending to BW for publication at its discretion, presumably quite soon. Our reports do not comment about the basis for listing the candidates; that is the role of the sponsor.
In the September 2015 SWS survey, BW specified 12 candidates for president, 13 candidates for vice president, and 44 candidates for senator. Future BW-SWS Pre-Election Surveys in the months to come will use the latest-available official lists of candidates.
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At last week’s launch of Jose P. “Joey” Leviste Jr.’s book “If the Philippines had a Lee Kuan Yew,” the first speaker was Cesar Virata, who knew LKY personally, and wrote the foreword. Joey put me on the program, too, since my piece “Singapore compared to the Philippines” (Opinion, 3/28/15) is in the book.
I spoke of my very first pre-election survey, in 1984, when I was at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). Cesar Virata was chair of DAP and was campaigning, with Joey’s help, for a Cavite seat in the Batasang Pambansa. Knowing about my survey research at DAP, Joey asked me to survey Cesar’s prospects of topping the polls, not just winning, in Cavite (which was allowed more than one seat, I think three), so as to justify being named prime minister afterward.
I had never done such a survey before; I just knew the principles. We did a very large sample so as to provide details for every town. I recall that the survey showed Cesar leading in most towns, not all, with a vote percentage that varied very much across the towns. Joey and some Caviteño pols were very pleased since the survey validated what they had expected from town to town, for local reasons. In a word, they saw it as realistic, and it showed them how to improve the campaign, and get Cesar on top. I found that I could do an election survey.
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