MANILA, Philippines – Candidates for national positions have traditionally aimed at getting a considerable share of votes in the so-called vote corridor, the chain of vote-rich provinces from the Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, and the Bicol Region.
A few have wisened up, however, and since looked to alternative sources of votes when the old corridor seemed crowded with rivals. These are provinces with fewer registered voters, but consistently with the highest number of voters who actually went to the polls in past elections.
The argument for this strategy is: If a national candidate bothers to court the favor of voters in these provinces, his rivals might have dismissed as not too significant, the voters deliver.
Data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show that most of the provinces that yield the highest turnout of votes are not the vote-rich areas. Some of them, in fact, are the smallest provinces in the country.
Consistently on the list are the small provinces of Batanes (the province with the least number of voters); Siquijor (78th of 80 provinces); Biliran (73rd of 80); Catanduanes (66th of 80), and Southern Leyte (59th of 80).
Camiguin (79th) landed 14th with the highest voter turnout in the 2004 elections, while Guimaras (74th) was 16th in the 2010 elections. The voter turnout in these smaller provinces surpassed the national average in the past 3 elections:
In the 2010 elections, the top 10 provinces with the highest voter turnout had a total of around 2.4 million actual voters. That's more than those who actually voted in Cebu, the most vote-rich province, where only about 77.86% voted (1.8 million of its 2.4 million population).
Focusing on winning the voters in these provinces could already give candidates an advantage. In the 2010 elections, 2.4 million is 12% of the total votes earned by Senator Bong Revilla (1st place with 19,513,521 votes), or 23% of the total votes earned by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III (12th place with 10,277,352 votes).
The 7 high voter-yielding small provinces alone has produced a total of around 600,000 voters who actually voted in the 2010 elections. If they all voted for those candidates who've won, they are 3% of the total votes for Revilla and 6% of total votes for Guingona. The total would have been half of the actual voters in the vote-richest province of Cebu.
This is the first of Rappler’s series of articles to go with our maps of where the votes are. We invite you to mine the data as well.