The latest Pulse Asia popularity survey

According to the latest Pulse Asia survey relevant to the coming 2010 presidential elections in the Philippines, “presidentiable” Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III along with his sidekick “Mar” Roxas are tops in the race. Their report Filipinos’ Preferences for the May 2010 Elections from the October 2009 Ulat ng Bayan national survey concluded that

PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Senator Benigno C. Aquino III leads all surveyed presidential hopefuls/presidentiables by a big margin. The reason most-often cited in expressing a voting preference for a possible presidential candidate is the latter’s clean public record (“malinis”) or, alternatively, not being corrupt “hindi kurakot”

As expected, the report made waves all over the Philippine blogosphere. At Jolog Central, the eminent Ellen Tordesillas regresses back to her facts only reporter roots and hardly adds any editorial value to the report she posts. She does provide a PDF document of the report downloadable from her own server which turns out to be no more than a generic media release loaded with statistical detail issued by Pulse Asia.

I credit Reyna Elena for sparing us a bit of trouble by stripping off much of the quaint “analysis” around the “survey” to reveal its kernel:

1.) Noynoy Aquino 44%
2.) Manny Villar 19%
3.) Chiz Escudero at 13%
4.) Joseph Estrada 11%
5.) Gilbert Teodoro 2%

As the title of his post already states: “Noynoy maintains big lead“!


* * *

Before we go on, let’s set a baseline and start with a hypothesis to describe what possibly could be the whole point behind these “surveys” which are undertaken, at great cost, by Pulse Asia and so gleefully dissemintated by so many channels of mass communication.

These surveys are published by the Media and dissemintated by “bloggers” as a service to the general public.

(Let’s forget for now the vast amount of money made by the “mainstream” members of our little family of mass communicators)

Like Tordesillas’s news report, Reyna Elena’s post is long on dissemination (as Pulse Asia requests of the recipients of its media releases), but quite short on thinking-added-value.

Fortunately it takes a bit of an elementary exercise of asking the right questions to tease out some nuggets of insight into how consumers of “surveys” such as this, think. Thus according to Elena, these surveys…

[…] can also be used by candidates in a lot of ways. An unpopular candidate could change his strategy or work on his platform, hire PR people, perform better in debates and even hire paid hacks to increase his popularity because polls can sway public opinions.

Indeed I agree. Popularity surveys are very useful to politicians as tools for fine-tuning their campaigns. They are practically indispensible, much the same way as a speedometer is an essential device in motorists’ on-going efforts to avoid getting speeding tickets.

On the other hand:

How exactly do the voters benefit from these surveys?

Where is this “service” provided to the public? From the perspective of the voters, what do they gain from the information in these surveys in terms of tools they could use to evaluate their options?

For me it seems that knowing “Noynoy Aquino 44%” ergo “Noynoy maintains big lead” leaves voters none the wiser about whether that guy is qualified to lead and govern our lot. For that matter, neither are we any more cluey on which among the rest of them are.

What we do find that the non-politician sector of the public is left with is a bit more disturbing:

Publication of popularity metrics like these induce a bandwagon effect.

It’s Advertising Trickery 101.

Millions of labanderas testify that Ajax or Breeze (or whatever detergent you subject your hapless servant to) does the job! Or so the old advertising formula goes. Substitute “labanderas” with “voters” and “Ajax” or “Breeze” with whoever happens to come out on top in these “surveys” and you will catch my drift.

Score so far:

Traditional politicians – 1

Clueless Pinoy voters – ZERO

Pulse Asia – laughing all the way to the bank.

GetRealist take on things: Priceless.

Six months to go and the only challenge of consequence around here remains unmet: Platform, plez


About benign0

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7 Responses to The latest Pulse Asia popularity survey

  1. GabbyD says:

    your implicit assumption: surveys are a ‘service’ to voters.

    who said that?

    as you suggest, these are surveys that appeal to people running. they are a product of these survey firms.

    they are in blogs for 1 reason: the supporters want to know how their candidate is doing

    they are in newspapers/media for 1 reason: its NEWS. and they sell newspapers.

    who said anything about surveys being a guide to voting?

    • BenK says:

      Why do people want to know how their candidate is doing? Having made up their own minds based on whatever criteria they apply to choosing a candidate for whom they will vote, what difference should it make to them what anyone else thinks of the candidates?

  2. ilda says:

    These surveys are useful to people who cannot think or decide on their own. Surveys are important to them because if they see that people are voting for X candidate for example, they will just go with that candidate. People want a guarantee of someone’s winnability. They don’t really engage in discussions anymore about why.- basta!

    I don’t know why Filipinos cannot seem to break from the mold, they just want to go with the flow.

  3. citizenperry says:

    It seems that “subliminal campaigning” and “mind-conditioning surveys” today seems to work. Nice work trapos. Keep up the good work !!!!

  4. benign0 says:

    As Obi Wan Kenobi say of their infamous Jedi Mind Trick:

    It only works on the weak-minded.

    The lameness of the Philippine National “Debate” merely reflects the extent of the standards of excellence of the participants in said “debate”.

  5. Melflonmete says:

    I highly enjoyed reading your blogpost, keep on posting such interesting articles!!

  6. usi says:

    low-salaried pinoys in ph are too busy thinking of what to feed their kids later today or tomorrow..surveys help them decide instantly..if he’s popular, he must be good…….

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