MANY presidential candidates — not named Ferdinand Marcos Jr. — are raising eyebrows and doubts about the findings of the latest Pulse Asia survey and the latest Laylo Research poll report.
Vice President Leni Robredo is especially incredulous that neither Pulse Asia nor Laylo reflected in their survey numbers the important gains and changes that are now buoying up her campaign.
The cold fact, however, according to both surveys, is that VP Leni remains stuck in the ground at 16- to 19-percent voter preference while Bongbong Marcos is up in the sky, far, far away with 60- to 64-percent voter preference.
Robredo has not moved a point closer to BBM. And BBM has not shown any sign of weakening, not shedding even a single point.
The riddle bugging Robredo consists of this:
In spite of an alleged surge of crowds in Robredo’s campaign rallies;
In spite of the now open support by the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) and its fronts for her candidacy;
In spite of her endorsement by Catholic priests, nuns, officials and lay leaders, disregarding the church’s neutrality;
In spite of her endorsement by the officials and faculty of Catholic educational institutions across the country;
In spite of her endorsement by 161 economists (including former NEDA directors general) and academics;
In spite of her endorsement by various professional organizations;
In spite of her endorsement by some governors and other local executives, and some ex-public officials; and
In spite of the spread nationwide of her pink shirts, tarpaulins and other campaign bric a brac.
The Leni Robredo campaign has not moved the needle in the pre-election surveys. No matter what gimmick they try, no matter what group they sway to endorse her, the needle does not budge.
Frustration and despair
The phrase “move the needle” captures perfectly the frustration and despair of Robredo’s campaign.
The phrase “move the needle” is part of general business jargon, but it is now popular also in politics. In general business speak, moving the needle means to generate a reaction; at Microsoft, it has the more general sense of providing a perceptible improvement.
Where does the phrase moving the needle come from? This is a reference to the old analog Vu meter used in audio recording. Vu stood for volume units. When recording, some audio sources were not even loud enough to make the needle move off the bottom — in other words it was too faint to be of much use to record.
“Moving the needle” as business jargon has been around so long that it’s back. In marketing and advertising, the measurable gain would be achieving specific growth goals, generating business prospects or hitting the objective for new customers or sales.
In election campaigns, the idiom is a vivid measure of a candidate’s impact or position in the campaign, particularly when he or she is trying to catch up.
BBM’s support won’t change
In the pre-campaign period in December 2021 and January 2022, there was already a perceptible trend toward Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Approval was very high for the BBM-Sara UniTeam.
When the campaign period officially started on February 19, BBM-Sara broke out of the starting gate like a racehorse with a grand proclamation rally at the Iglesia ni Cristo Philippine Arena in Bulacan, which was attended by 25,000 people indoor and as many outdoors cheering.
All pre-election surveys since February have uniformly reported a formidable lead by Marcos over his presidential candidate rivals, with Robredo in second place.
The initial survey results pointed to the likelihood that BBM could get a majority vote in the presidential election in May, a feat that has not happened in the modern era of Philippine electoral politics.
The February surveys of nearly every survey group have uniformly shown Marcos as having a formidable lead and getting between 55 and 64 percent of voter preference, and Robredo coming next with between 15 and 19 percent.
The most discussed recent survey is the Pulse Asia survey of February 22. It showed Marcos getting 60-percent vote preference, while Robredo got 19 percent.
Pulse Asia’s January 2022 survey produced almost the same result: 60 percent for Marcos, 19 percent for Robredo.
The percentage shares of the other candidates were statistically insignificant.
The Pulse Asia February survey had 2,400 respondents. The January survey had the same size.
It’s the same story with all the other notable surveys — Laylo Research, SWS, Publicus, Tangere — that have made their findings public. All showed Marcos with a nearly insurmountable lead over his rivals, because even if all their percent shares were to go to his closest rival, they could barely pose a challenge to Marcos.
It was amusing to watch ANC program host Karen Davila interview Dr. Ana Tabunda, research director of Pulse Asia, concerning the latest Pulse Asia pre-election survey.
Davila asked Tabunda why in the surveys in the current election cycle, Marcos has taken such a high percentage of the vote preferences — a feat never seen in previous presidential elections.
Tabunda made some arresting revelations.
First, she disclosed that the survey’s 2,400 respondents consisted mainly of members of the C, D and E groups. It did not include members of the A and B group, which is statistically insignificant.
Second, she said that 80 percent of the respondents who expressed preference for BBM will not change their minds and their vote in May.
Women prefer BBM to Robredo
Another survey showed why the numbers do not indicate any improvement in Robredo’s position.
In surveys conducted in January and February, Laylo Research reported that women overwhelmingly prefer Marcos over Leni Robredo.
In the January poll, Marcos tallied 62-percent preference votes from women as against Robredo’s 19 percent. In the February poll, Marcos was preferred by 61 percent as against Robredo’s 19 percent.
Laylo also reported that Marcos led in terms of demographics, including local and economic class, gender and age groups as he scored 55 to 65 percent in all the categories.
“Marcos scored 63 percent in urban areas; 62 percent in rural; 54 percent in Class A, B, C; 66 percent in Class D; and 57 percent in Class E,” the Marcos campaign said.
It said the candidate was the choice of 65 percent of male voters; 66 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds; 66 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds; and 55 percent of 55+ age group.
Finally, Marcos also leads decisively in all regions across the entire archipelago, including Robredo’s home base, the Bicol Region.
In January, Marcos garnered 51-percent preference votes in Bicol as against Robredo’s 33 percent.
In February, Marcos got 48 percent votes as opposed to Leni’s 32 percent.
Marcos also was the top choice in all other regions with huge voting populations like the National Capital Region with 61 percent, Northern/Central Luzon (80 percent), Visayas (53 percent) and Mindanao (71 percent), the survey showed.
To sum up, the Pulse Asia and Laylo Research surveys conclusively show why Vice President Leni Robredo cannot move the needle in the election campaign despite recent extraordinary efforts to boost her candidacy.