SWS polls take us for fools

With the Social Weather Stations (SWS) as its accomplice, the Liberal Party has gone on a blitz to create an illusion that Manuel Roxas II’s ratings as a presidential candidate have improved. This is despite the fact that he has done nothing in the past many months that would convince Filipinos why he should be president.

In fact he has proven to be a clone of his boss President Aquino, incompetent, brattish and with a juvenile temperament. Roxas II has been even identified with that which has helped create a hell for Filipinos commuting everyday along EDSA: the broken-down MRT-3.

His ratings in the presidential race had been stuck in the basement for two years now, even put at single-digit levels by unpublished surveys.

However with the help of SWS, Roxas II is executing a clever operation to create an illusion that he will handily beat Binay next year.

The first step in the manufacture of the deception: For the SWS to report that Filipinos like his boss Aquino more, despite his incompetence that led to the Mamasapano massacre, the continuing massive smuggling, the worsening crime so bad that people are being killed and robbed in broad daylight, and the incontrovertible fact that workers’ real wages have been cut despite GDP growth in the past years.

The SWS on September 21 released its “findings” that Aquino’s “satisfaction” ratings zoomed to a net plus 41 percentage points from 11 in March.

Those plain numbers conceal how unbelievable that is: It means a 272 percent increase in Filipinos’ satisfaction over his leadership. That’s something that could happen only if he had undertaken some earth-shaking initiative, perhaps on the scale of selling Hacienda Luisita and giving the proceeds to his CCT (i.e. dole-out) program. No such thing.

“Aquino ratings zoomed, so Roxas’ would too!” (Background photo: the duo in Zamboanga City last January 25 while the Mamasapano massacre was unfolding.)
“Aquino ratings zoomed, so Roxas’ would too!” (Background photo: the duo in Zamboanga City last January 25 while the Mamasapano massacre was unfolding.)

Nobody actually believed the SWS poll on Aquino, not even the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which for the first time ever, relegated the report to its inside pages. No columnist even bothered to criticize it, so that SWS president Mahar Mangahas pathetically tried to draw attention to it in his Inquirer column

With a fantastic 272 percent increase in Aquino’s ratings, when all developments during that time were making him an unpopular president, a real social scientist would have gone back to his data and methodology, checked it ten times to verify why its survey got such an unbelievable result. But not SWS, especially its President Mahar Mangahas. At least its competitor Pulse Asia narrates major developments that occurred before its surveys, to validate even if not with precision, its survey findings.

Important reason

But there is an important reason why SWS risked reporting such obviously inaccurate polls, which I will discuss below.

Before discussing that, we have to expose the second step of the strategy to boost Roxas’ ratings.

A few day later, SWS released the results of its poll that asked the question: “Who do you think are the good leaders who should succeed Pres. Aquino as President? You may give up to three names.”

Note the framing of the question. Even if you really won’t vote for Roxas, you might still include him in the list three  of names, as Aquino in fact endorsed him. On the other hand, how can Binay succeed Aquino when he has been  very critical of  him as an opposition?

Why did SWS ask for three names, not four or five or six? Because if a respondent were asked to give four names, Davao Mayor Digong Duterte would likely make it to the list, reducing Roxas II’s shares. The choose-3 kind of poll is so crass I have never heard it used anywhere else in the world.

Oila! Mangahas’ magic produces a really fake poll that Roxas got 39 percent while Binay only 34 percent with Poe still topping the poll with 47 percent.

This SWS operation reveals its lack of scientific integrity. Mangahas knows full well that it is not a voter-preference opinion, even if he knows that media would report it as such, which they did. Many news articles — likely supported financially by Roxas’ propaganda group — reported that he had overtaken Binay in voters’ preference for the presidency.

What is highly suspicious is that nobody commissioned that question, so it was entirely out of Mangahas’ wish to do. If you were an ethical social scientist, why would you undertake a misleading, unscientific survey?

The reason why Mangahas undertook such a stupid three-choice survey and released its findings is that even as it wasn’t a voter-preference poll, it would be portrayed  by media as one, as indeed it was.

Its intention was to change people’s current perceptions based on genuine voter-preference surveys that Roxas wasn’t going anywhere as a presidential candidate, with his ratings unchanged over two years now that even Aquino had hesitated to endorse him as his candidate and instead was going  for Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

The third step in the SWS operation was the release of a real voter-preference survey, that is, one that asked who would you vote for for president, not to name three as “best leaders” to replace Aquino. The poll reported Poe with 26 percent, Binay 24 percent and Roxas 20.

Respondents from Capiz?

If SWS’ respondents in the Visayas were from Iloilo or Capiz, those for Luzon from Tarlac, or from Cubao for NCR, Roxas’ 20 percent wouldn’t be surprising. Why doesn’t the SWS ever make public where it got its respondents?

I could visualize Mangahas stuttering in a press conference if had called for one and spoke what he felt: “OK, I know you didn’t’ believe the first poll (the three-choice one) in which Roxas got 39 percent, beating Binay with just 34 percent. But now I give you a new figure of 20 percent, which I think – after that 34 percent – is credible.”

And what did the unbelievable jump in Aquino’s satisfaction ratings have anything to do with this?

As the Liberal Party’s face, Congressman Edgar Erice, said, Roxas’ numbers miraculously improved because of Aquino’s endorsement power. If Aquino’s ratings were not reported by SWS as having vastly improved, the increase in Roxas’ ratings would be totally inexplicable.

The Liberal Party’s strategy is to falsely portray in the public mind that Roxas has climbed from his basement-level ratings, so that the contest has become a neck-to-neck one with Binay, with Poe to be disqualified by hook and by crook.

The next steps in Roxas II’s strategy would be first, to disqualify Poe on grounds she is not a natural-born citizen and lacks the required years of residency. The second step, would be the filing of a second non-bailable plunder charge against Binay.

SWS would quickly do its fools’ polls, and Roxas would claim that with Poe out of the contest, her followers shifted to him, instead of Binay because of the plunder charges.

If not through outright cheating, the massive funds accumulated by the yellow horde – even including those from the Disbursement Acceleration Plan – would tip the results for Roxas

These people are taking us for fools.

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