The ‘bandwagon effect’ created by political surveys
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - April 29, 2013 - 12:00am

The Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey of April 13-15 showed that Senator Loren Legarda (Nationalist People’s Coalition -Team PNoy) is number one in the race with 59 percent followed by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano (Nacionalista Party-Team PNoy) with 52 percent. Nancy Binay (UNA) and former Las Piñas City Rep. Cynthia Villar (NP-Team PNoy) sharing the 3rd and 4th place with 49 percent each while Chiz Escudero (Independent – Team PNoy) landed in the fifth place. The rest of the senatorial candidates are going up and down like jumping beans as the campaign period comes to a close.

The latest Pulse Asia Survey conducted last March 16-20 showed Senator Loren Legarda  taking the lead,  Senator Chiz Escudero in second place, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano in third place, Grace Poe in fourth place while Koko Pimentel in the fifth place.

We very well know that political surveys are “iffy” but they can be good reference points for both the candidate and the electorate.  The latest political polls have become major discussion points of political analysts, reference points of media men and political bloggers.  The downside in this is the imminent danger that the electorate will measure the strength of a politico on his  latest standing as oppose to how he will serve the country.

Of course survey groups will always tell us that their polls are scientific and accurate. They will try to explain their methodology in gathering data using a good representative sample of voters. But how sure are we that the surveys have been conducted using a sample that truly represents the diversity of the entire voting population?  What about imperfect sampling sources, interviewer bias, question wording and question order effects, inaccurate responses and non-response bias?

There is a very strong ‘bandwagon effect’ created by the polls.  The populous must take heed not to be influenced by them.  We should be careful not to fall into the trap of casting our votes based on winnability but rather on a serious look at the qualifications and moral background of the aspirants. Obsession on political polls is a dangerous thing to do.

We must remember that the only polls that really count happen when people cast their votes on May 13, 2013.

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What does it take for a candidate to maintain his or her high ratings? Recent news showed us how Chiz Escudero’s rating was very much affected by the controversies involving his girlfriend Heart Evangelista. From gaining ground early on, Chiz has slid down to fifth place in the polls.

Senator Loren Legarda on the other hand has maintained her position as the top senatorial contender to beat. She is the only female senator who topped the Senate race twice, with more than 15 million votes in 1998 and 18.4 million votes in 2007 despite personal setbacks during that time.

What makes Loren Legarda tick?  She is a woman many people love to hate because of the confidence she exudes and seeming haughtiness.  If you don’t know her I guess that is the impression people get but despite that they will still vote for her because of her consistent track record.

Senator Legarda Loren is the only woman to become majority leader.  She is chiefly responsible for the passage of the following laws which she authored: the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (RA9994); the Barangay Kabuhayan Act (RA 9509); the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (RA 9501); the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act (RA 10000); the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act (RA 9262); the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710); the Anti-child Labor Law (RA 9231); the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act ( RA 9208); the Philippine Ear Institute Act (RA 9245); the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009 ( RA 9709); the Food and Drugs Administration Act of 2009 (RA9711); the Philippine Tropical Fabric Law (RA 9242); the Eid’ul Fitr Holiday Law ( RA 9177); the Tourism Act of 2009 ( RA 9593); the Clean Air Act (8749); the Environmental Awareness Education Act ( RA 9512); the Renewable Energy Act ( RA 9513); the Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003); the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA10121); the Climate Change Act  (RA 9729) and its amendatory law (RA 10174), which provides for the creation of the People’s Survival Fund, among many vital pieces of legislation.

Her advocacy for the protection of the rights of indigenous people has made Loren a favorite of the tribesmen.  Her contribution to peace efforts with members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front have allowed her to negotitate in the release of several men in captivity by these groups. And her consistent and persistent campaign in spreading the effects of climate change in our archipelago has given her more respect in her craft.

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Alan Peter Cayetano was a freshman in the Senate in 2007. His known commitment and uncompromising stance towards graft and corruption made him an easy choice to chair two major Senate Committees: the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers (more popularly known as the Blue Ribbon Committee) and the Committee on Education, Arts and Culture. It was under his stewardship of the Blue Ribbon Committee when the graft-ridden NBN-ZTE deal was first investigated.  He also steered the continuation of the Fertilizer Scam investigation and the Cash-giving Scandal in Malacañang Palace.

Under his stewardship, R.A. 9500, or the University of the Philippines Charter Act of 2008, was passed barely nine months after he assumed post.  In 2009, as chairman of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, he launched a campaign to make the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act become a law. He moved closer towards succeeding in his quest for increased transparency and accountability in the government as this landmark legislation was approved on its 3rd reading and passed in the Senate during the 14th Congress. In the 15th Congress (2010-2013), Senator Alan assumed the position of the Senate Minority Leader.

We have seen the values and principles of the late Senator Rene Cayetano in this young senator.  He has been consistent in his advocacies which probably is the reason why he is on top of the charts.  He has gained a status of the “Batang Compañero” in the opposition which gives a good balance for the composition of senators in field.

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As for the other senatorial contenders who are still shuffling away through time in the polls, I wish you good luck! You have a few more days left to make your mark on the Philippine electorate.


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