Magic in Duterte survey? The case of vanishing survey tables

MANILA, Philippines – According to an SWS presidential preference survey released by Mr William J. Lima who commissioned the survey, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte is now the leading presidential candidate for the 2016 elections.

The survey was undertaken from 26-28 November 2015, with 1,200 respondents nationwide, with a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

In the released results, Duterte is preferred by 38% respondents nationwide, followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay (21%), Senator Grace Poe (21%), Manuel Roxas II (15%), and Miriam Defensor-Santiago (4%). The highest percentage preference for Duterte is shown by Class ABC (62%) compared to Class E (32%). As far as the regions are concerned,  Mindanaoans (50%) overwhelm the respondents from the rest of Luzon (26%).

It is perfectly understandable that Mindanaoans would go for Duterte, while Luzonians outside Metro Manila are unimpressed by him.

What is amusing, however, is that it appears that the folks at the top of the pyramid (ABC) are almost twice as frustrated as those who really are at the laylayan ng lipunan! In a society where one out of 4 Filipinos is poor, those who control the economy and polity are frustrated about the national situation enough to want Duterte in the saddle of an authoritarian backhoe that will bury the criminal and drug-peddling dregs of society. (READ: #AnimatED: The candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte)

Who will the elites unleash Digong on? Those who are guilty of the crime of poverty need now cower in fear!

So, it's more fun in the Philippines!

How many lists?

But wait!

Mr Lima is showing us only the "List 2" results of the survey. How many lists are there? Where are the results of the other lists? If there were 10 lists (I only know for sure there is more than one), is List 2 the most favorable result for Duterte?

So, there must be a sin of omission here – representing the opinion of Filipino voters using "List 2" only, when in fact the whole opinion recorded is more truthfully represented by more than one list.

Will Mr Lima oblige the Filipino people, where the recorded opinion came from in the first place, to take a peek at the results of the other lists? (We can plead with Mr Lima at Cluster E-51 Parkside Villas, Sales Road, Newport, Pasay City, Mobile 0908-888-8504.)

The SWS website is not helpful in this regard. Apparently, since Mr Lima paid for the conduct of the survey, he can choose to release only the tables he thinks fit for media and the people. The SWS website itself presents only the results for List 2.

But wait. There's more.

There is a sin of commission. Because if I were to present the voters with a series of lists of preferences for president, I would not include the name of one candidate in the question! I would word them this way (illustrations only):

List 1: Sa mga sumusunod na mga pangalan sa listahang ito, sino po ang malamang ninyong iboto bilang PRESIDENTE NG PILIPINAS, kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon (SHOW LIST 1): Binay, Jojo; Poe, Grace; Roxas, Mar; Santiago, Miriam, Undecided+

List 2: Sa mga sumusunod na mga pangalan sa listahang ito, sino po ang malamang ninyong iboto bilang PRESIDENTE NG PILIPINAS, kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon (SHOW LIST 2): Binay, Jojo; Duterte, Rody; Poe, Grace; Roxas, Mar; Santiago, Miriam, Undecided+

List N: Sa mga sumusunod na mga pangalan sa listahang ito, sino po ang malamang ninyong iboto bilang PRESIDENTE NG PILIPINAS, kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon (SHOW LIST N): Duterte, Rody; Poe, Grace, Undecided+

This way, the question is standard across the lists, and any difference in the answers of the respondents must be solely based on the different lists of candidates. Elementary, Sherlock Holmes would say.

But look at the wording of the question for List 2 in the SWS Survey:

"Ibang listahan naman po ang gamitin natin. Kasama dito si RODRIGO DUTERTE bilang isang substitute candidate sa Presidente. Sa mga sumusunod na mga pangalan sa listahang ito, sino po ang malamang ninyong iboto bilang PRESIDENTE NG PILIPINAS, kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon (SHOW LIST 2)" (Let us use another list. This one includes Rodrigo Duterte as a substitute candidate for president. From the list of names here, who do you think will be your choice for president of the Philippines if elections were held today?)

This additional wording referring to RODRIGO DUTERTE clearly sets the bias in his favor. (The proof, of course, is in the "second envelope" of results that Mr Lima has yet to open to the public.)

Is it any wonder that Duterte tops this list, and this is the only list released to the media and the public? Is this the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the preferences expressed by the survey respondents last November?

Of course not! But the Social Weather Stations, as a matter of contract, apparently cannot release what has not been released by the client himself. The buyer of the information has exclusive rights to the data at this time.

How about Pulse Asia?

But wait. There's more!

Isn't this the same case with the Pulse Asia Survey of November 11-12 in the National Capital Region, where the results were the following: Duterte (34%) led Poe (26%), Binay (22%), Roxas (11%), and Santiago (7%)?

Apparently, there were also other lists shown to the respondents. Let's look at the question:

"Now I am going to show you another list. If the following were candidates for PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES, whom would you vote for if the 2016 elections were held today?"

Looks good. No names in caps in the question!

But wait! Look at the long introduction to this question (Filipino version), which I surmise is not in the other questions introducing different lists:

"AYON SA ISANG COMELEC RESOLUTION, ANG ISANG OPISYAL NA KANDIDATONG UMATRAS SA PAGTAKBO AY MAARING PALITAN NG IBANG KANDIDATO NA KANYANG KA-PARTIDO O ININOMINA NG KANILANG PARTIDO SA ARAW NG DISYEMBRE 10, 2015 O BAGO PA NITO. NOONG OKTUBRE 29, 2015 AY PORMAL NA UMATRAS SI MARTIN DIÑO BILANG KANDIDATO SA PAGKA-PRESIDENTE SA ILALIM NG PARTIDO PDP-LABAN AT SINABI NIYA NA SI RODRIGO “RODY” R. DUTERTE ANG KANYANG KAPALIT." (Based on a Comelec resolution, a candidate who withdraws his candidacy may be replaced by another bet who is nominated by a party. On October 29 2015, Martin Diño formally withdrew his candidacy under PDP-Laban and declared that Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte would be his replacement.)

Question: Ngayon ay mayroon akong ipapakita sa inyo na ibang listahan. Kung ang mga sumusunod ay kandidato bilang PRESIDENTE NG PILIPINAS, sino ang inyong iboboto kung ang eleksyon ng 2016 ay gaganapin ngayon? (Now I have a list to show you. If those on this list run for president of the Philippines, whom will you vote for if elections were held today?)

Mukhang na-123 ang taumbayan!

Consider this: Step 1: Selected Pulse Asia table showing Duterte on top; (2) Follow through with selected SWS Survey showing Duterte on top; (3) Duterte Phoenix-like emergence as the substitute for Martin Diño.

But wait! How can Duterte substitute for Martin Diño as candidate for president when Martin Dino's certificate of candidacy was for the mayoral post of Pasay City?

C'mon. It's more fun in the Philippines, because people here believe in magic!

Seriously now, are there lessons to be learned for all of us here, including Pulse Asia and SWS, the media, and the electorate. What do we do about it? –


The author of this opinion piece is a lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University