Free Press editorial cartoon, circa 1965.
In a sense, the campaign is over for many voters: at least, this is the impression I get. The surveys seem to agree that the undecided number about 6% of the electorate, which can make or break the chances of either of the leading candidates. The campaigning then, as it enters the middle period (the home stretch comes after Holy Week), focuses on three things: keeping the base, chipping away at the base of other opponents, and convincing the undecided. But the respective bases of the two leading candidates seem to be fairly stable and much as the campaign has taken an increasingly aggressive tone, the bases don’t seem to be shifting so much. This makes for a campaign in which those bases will probably tend to tune out, having made up their minds.
This is particularly true because the big push for many candidates took place before the official campaign even began: in the November-February period.
Normally, the formalities surrounding party conventions and the nomination of official candidates was supposed to take place in January, followed immediately by the presidential campaign itself in February. Because of automation, the filing of candidacies was moved to November and there was supposed to be an artificial hiatus until February, except the Supreme Court decided there would be no hiatus so to speak, which meant that essentially an extended pre-campaign period took place from October to February.
This was particularly crucial for the candidates in terms of TV and radio advertising. See the Pera’t Pulitika cover letter to Ricky Carandang, explaining its data, and see the Pera’t Pulitika data on November-February ad spending and February-March spending with legal limits kicking in (you can compare these figures with the Nielsen Index report on ad minutes for the 2004 candidates).
In chronological order, here are the latest surveys.
I. The first reported out was Pulse Asia, February 21-25, 2010 (released March 5, 2010):
The survey tells us that at the time it was conducted, Aquino enjoyed an overall 7 point lead over Villar nationally; leading in the NCR (16 pts.), Balance Luzon (2 pts.), Mindanao (19 pts.) and very slightly in the Visayas (1 pt.); and among Class ABC (8 pts.), Class D (8 pts.) and Class E (3 pts.)
This was remarkable because it answered two questions pending since the January surveys:
1. Would either of the main contenders show a game-winning trajectory? From his earlier, spectacular, numbers, Aquino has settled on a percentage in the high 30’s; after a herculean effort, Villar shot up but seems to have lost some steam. If, however, Aquino had slid and Villar, in turn, had actually overtaken Aquino, then a bandwagon effect might have been created. But neither before, when the resources that could be poured into the effort were limitless, and since, when a much more strategic effort is required, has Villar managed to actually overtake the frontrunner.
2. Did the C-5 Controversy have any effect? It seems it has.
See the following:
II. Next came the Manila Standard Today survey,February 20-26, 2010:
Again in terms of plotting the trajectory of the candidates, see the following:
This survey has a wealth of interesting data (see also messaging section below): it tells us Aquino leads Villar in the NCR (9 pts.), in South Luzon (7 pts.), in the Visayas (5 pts.), in Mindanao (3 pts.) and among Economic Class ABC (6 pts.), Economic Class D (4 pts.), Age Group 18-24 (2 pts.), Age Group 35-44 (12 pts.), Catholic Voters (4 pts.), Born Again Voters (2 pts.), among Urban Voters (9 pts.), among Female Voters (4 pts.) and barely ahead among Male Voters (1 pt.).
Villar leads in North Luzon (9 pts.), among Economic Class E (2 pts.), and among Age Group 25-34 (3 pts.), Age Group 45+ (1 pt.), among Iglesia ni Cristo Voters (12 pts.), Aglipayan Voters (11 pts.), Protestant Voters (12 pts.), Voters with “Other” Religious Affiliations (6 pts.), Muslim Voters (6 pts.) and among Rural Voters (2 pts.).
III. And finally, Social Weather Stations, February 24-28, 2010, which used the simulated ballot for the first time.
In terms of the two leading contenders, Aquino leads in the NCR (by 22 pts.), Visayas (5 pts.), and Mindanao (2 pts.), and Class D (the largest class, by 4 pts.); Villar leads in Balance Luzon (4 pts.), among Class ABC (3 pts.) and Class E (2 pts.).
(see also Marichu Lambino)
The real contenders and Why SWS Presidential Survey Does Not Add Up To 100% But 300%, both October 14, 2009;
The blog Alphanumeric makes for interesting reading, see Pulse Asia: Preferences for Presidentiables January 2010 Update and Pulse Asia: Preferences for Presidentiables February 2010 Update.
As for the use of surveys to test political messages, see Arroyo pollster commissioned SWS to test political messages, April 27, 2006.
While the Pulse Asia survey tells us the main divisions are between those voting on the basis of a candidate not having a corruption record and those putting forward caring for the poor:
It’s interesting that the Manila Standard Today survey (run by the same fellow who used to undertake in-house surveys for the President) asks a lot of questions focusing on messaging. Look at the slides on voter conversion, on their awareness and favorability, and their slogans, and so forth.
See also the following interesting slides: Second choices of already-committed voters (i.e. if Estrada were to drop out, his vote would be split between Aquino and Villar; if Teodoro dropped out, more of his votes would go to Villar than Aquino, etc.); Levels of commitment of voters to their candidates.