The Long View Context: The Two Campaigns

Back in 2010, a veteran journo who’d seen ’em all, told me he hadn’t seen such popular enthusiasm for a campaign (he was referring to the Aquino campaign) since the Magsaysay campaign in 1953. Now a commentary by Criselda Yabes, Leni Robredo’s Pink Revolution, in Asia Sentinel, says that from her point of view, there hasn’t been enthusiasm in a campaign like Robredo’s since 1986:

There is an unusual festive revolution unfolding in the Philippine campaign for the presidential election that will take place next week. Since election fever started to rise in early February, it has become a striking parallel to the 1986 people-power revolt that wound up bloodlessly toppling a dictator. This time around, supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo in a dogged fight to stop the same late dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr from the possibility of winning.

It is the same buoyant energy of peaceful gatherings, but a situation that has turned upside down. Thirty-six years after a revolution brought freedom back, the elections are now becoming a last call for Filipinos to save democracy…

Many have said we had the 1986 revolution miraculously easy when we massed on the capital’s main avenue as if it was a picnic. The spirit of those days came rushing back in the atmosphere in Robredo’s campaign with as much anxiety and excitement to the nail-biting uncertainty of the voting’s outcome on May 9.

Our generation has known no other kind of revolution.

Some weeks ago came an intersting op-ed by Joey Salgado, The race to May 9: Can Robredo do a Binay? which gives an interesting account of the Binay vice-presidential campaign in 2010. A related reading from 2013 is in two parts, Anatomy Of A Campaign (Part I) and Anatomy Of A Campaign (Part II).

Both can be read as classic accounts of the last of the traditional campaigns, since the system changed with the Duterte campaign in 2016. For his part, Edmund Tayao in Stripped naked: The return of old politics, reflects on the circumstances that have led to the current campaign and its possible outcomes. I strongly disagree. For my part, I’d like to put forward three presentations I made in recent months (not in chronological order):

1. In, The Rise and Fall of our Fifth Republic I presented what is turining out to be the first, rough draft, of my thoughts on where and how, I believe, the the present Fifth Republic functionally came to an end. This is most closely related as a kind of counterpoint to Tayao’s arguments, though I didn’t know he’d be making them.

2. A double feature: in Perspectives on the Presidency: Leadership Lessons for No. 17   (where I was one of four speakers) and The Presidency 3×3 I shared some thoughts on the presidency over time.

3. In in What will be the role of the media in the upcoming 2022 elections? I tried to answer that question, by exploring what the media is not, and why.

4. Finally, in From FM to BBM I compared and contrasted the image-making of Ferdinand Senior and Junior.

Related, I guess, to this last point, a case (not the case) for the Marcos campaign was made by Rigoberto Tiglao on April 22 and April 25, in his column. A despondent look some time back can be found in Angela Stuart Santiago.

In my column, The Long View: Hidden campaign lessons I mentioned that a prudent newsroom might be prepping two stories as we speak: one arguing that this contest has really been no contest, at least since the Marcos-Duterte Coalition was formed, judging from the surveys.

My column presents my contention that up to the point that a Marcos-Duterte Coalition was brokered by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Marcos had been unable to break through a kind of electoral glass ceiling, as shown by the national percentages his mother, himself, and his sister, achieved from 1992 to 2019.

Aggregated surveys as of May 2, 2022

The other story is that the surveys are off, and that Google, with infinitely more data points and being real-time, is a better predictor of outcomes.

Here are two ways of looking at this:

In his blog, Roger Do sticks his neck out. See A Pompous Ass Calls the Election:

Let me save you time. I, on behalf of AutoPolitic, am projecting the winner in the 2022 Philippines presidential election to be Leni Robredo by at least 4% of the total votes.

My prediction is based on the social intelligence tracking work I have done with my friends at the ADDS group for the last 5 months. We have also used other social media platforms and google to confirm the direction of the campaigns, but Facebook is the primary source of data for the final call and the precision. (You can hear our talks here, here and here.)

His caveats –circumstances that might explain calling it wrong– make for interesting reading. So we will see which outcome comes to pass.

See Surveys and the 2022 Campaign (March 7, 2022) and The Long View Context: Hoping against hope, polls versus sentiment analytics (March 18, 2022) for when these two points of view emerged. Statistician Peter Cayton did a reductio ad absurdum exercise trying to “reconcile” the two, in a Twitter thread that makes for entertaining reading.

Meanwhile, in Statistically Speaking: Gen Zs, Millennials underrepresented; ‘Boomers’ overrepresented in Pulse Asia Feb survey, Romulo Viola raised points answered in turn by Pulse Asia through Ronnie Holmes.

The last pre-election Pulse Asia survey led to references to a law banning the publication of surveys within a specific period prior to elections –until G.R. No. 147571, a Supreme Court decision from May 5, 2001, was brought up, which struck down the ban as an unconstitutional limit on free speech.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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