THE presidential-preference poll by the Pedro Laylo Jr. outfit, undertaken from March 15 to 22 and leaked to media last week, was another nail on the coffin of Leni Robredo’s presidential bid.
The survey’s findings, that Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s lead of 59-63 percent to Robredo’s 17-21 percent — basically, unchanged since October — means he is unstoppable at this time. As a result, potential funders, even the stridently anti-Marcos elites like the Lopez clan and the leftist wife of a Hong Kong-based tycoon have decided to stop funding the loser’s campaign.
Sources said that several of “Pinklawan’s” campaign headquarters have been shut down, salaried staff have not been paid, and a major worry for them now is that Robredo won’t have any campaigners on the ground on May 9.
That would send the message that she has given up, with her supporters deciding just to stay home and not vote at all, or even to vote for Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. because of the bandwagon effect (uso-uso would be the translation) Filipinos are so prone to.
No wonder, the Pink Party in the past week has been desperately calling for “volunteers” — with little success. So shameful though has been the posts of Diwa Guinigundo, a fanatic Robredo supporter, asking God to “intercede” so “He remains in control.” It didn’t occur to him that, well, God might be preferring Marcos, and that he would be better off not mistaking the deity’s preferences by praying for instance for Russia to end its ruthless invasion of Ukraine, and save thousands of lives and relieve millions of Ukrainians from misery.
Indeed, since such presidential-preference polls have been undertaken, this is the first time that a candidate has such a wide 40 percentage-points lead over the runner-up, Robredo, maintained for two months before election day. In past elections, the leader one to two months before elections turned out invariably to win the elections.
For instance, Rodrigo Duterte in Pulse Asia’s March 29 to April 3, 2016 polls became the leader with 30 percent. He would rise subsequently to have 39 percent of votes in the May 9, 2016 elections to win it. In the 2010 elections, the Social Weather Stations poll for March 19 to 22, 2010, had Benigno Aquino 3rd with 37 percent. Aquino would win the elections with 42 percent.
Marcos posted 60 percent of votes in Laylo’s poll in the same period for this year.
Potential donors therefore have changed their funding calculus.
Before, a donor would distribute his donations pro-rated to the candidates’ performance in the polls. For instance, a poll undertaken March 29 to April 2016 by PulseAsia, Rodrigo Duterte had a 30 percent presidential preference rating, while Jojo Binay, Grace Poe and Mar Roxas had, respectively, 20 percent, 25 percent and 19 percent scores.
Just to be on the safe side in case those following Duterte win, donors roughly followed that distribution, e.g., donating P30 million to Duterte, 20 percent to Binay, and so on.
This time around, however, it doesn’t take rocket science to conclude that with 60 percent of voters going for Marcos and only 20 percent to Robredo, it would be better use of his money for a donor to fund only the clear winner, with a bigger donation to ingratiate himself more with the sure-ball winner — and stop taking calls from Robredo.
And with bigger finances, Marcos’ showing could be better than what the polls say, since funds would be available for transporting voters to the electoral precincts paying off rural bosses. There are even bettors now that Marcos will win with 70 percent of the votes, the first president to win not just by a majority but by a landslide. Two things give some credence to such optimism.
First, surveys assume a homogeneous target population: polls are just like taking a teaspoonful out of a soup to taste it. However, the target population — the voters — more often are not homogenous: There are “lumps” in that soup, or command votes.
Among these are the 1.5 million Iglesia ni Cristo and Apollo Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which can come up with 500,000 votes. Together, these two organizations can make up 4 percent of the estimated total votes for Marcos. The INC reportedly will be issuing strict orders for its members to vote for Marcos, as its leadership was so angry at the Robredo camp which managed to cheat in 2016 that many of the church’s communities appear in the Comelec count as having zero votes for him.
Second, according to Laylo’s polls, the only pollster to take this kind of measure, those going for Robredo has a high percentage of “soft voters,” or those who might change their mind, especially when they actually vote.
Robredo, according to the Laylo report, has a large 24 percent “soft voters,” which means that 24 percent of the 19 percent who said they will vote for her reported, however, they might still change their mind and vote for somebody else.
This means that she might still lose 5 percentage points of the 19 percent voting for her (24 percent of 19 percent) to end up with just 14 percent of total votes instead of 19 percent. Guess where those 5 percent votes will go.
The 4 percent command votes plus this 5 percent of Leni voters who might change their mind would push total Marcos votes on election day to 68 percent to 71 percent, taking into account the Laylo survey’s 2 percentage points margin of error.
Isn’t that ironic? The son of a strongman demonized for 36 years by the Yellows and the US, using powerful education and media apparatuses, turns out to be the president a huge majority of Filipinos want to lead them, who therefore could unite them, finally?
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