It’s not over until election day

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

Allow me to extend my condolences to the family and friends of the late Cebu media icon and GMA TV and radio anchor Bobby Nalzaro who died last Thursday at the age of 58.

I was a broadcast journalism intern at GMA News Cebu sometime in the late 1990s when I first met Super Bob. He didn’t know me personally and he was not even my immediate supervisor, but I do remember that day when he saw me walking on the dirt road from the GMA Cebu station in Nivel Hills toward the main road. He offered this lowly intern a ride in his white sedan and brought me to my destination at UP Cebu in Lahug. Such simple acts of kindness indeed will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace, Sir Bob.

* * *

I met some college schoolmates and friends who are also current or former members of the media in Cebu at the wake of Sir Bobby Nalzaro Thursday night. One of them, a fellow lawyer, was like me wearing a pink face mask. So when we had a catching up chat at the parking lot coming from the wake, our talk revolved around the coming presidential election.

We both agreed that there is now a gradual but steady shift on the ground as regards the campaign of presidential candidates. The high attendance and crowd energy in the campaign rallies of Vice President Leni Robredo in recent weeks, for example, can no longer be discounted. The momentum is in that camp. However, this has yet to be reflected in the March surveys of leading survey firms Pulse Asia and Social Weather Station.

Many of Robredo’s supporters express disbelief about the results of the Pulse Asia and SWS February surveys showing contender Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading the pack of presidential candidates by a mile. Instead of belittling these surveys, supporters of presidential candidates should analyze and learn from them.

I have no reason to doubt the credibility of the two established survey firms. Their methodologies had been tried and proven in past election cycles, give and take some margins of error. However, on second thought, those cycles did not happen during a pandemic. What if the same methodologies actually need to be recalibrated to catch a true representative of the entire population of voters in a pandemic situation? For example, what if the people that the surveyors chanced upon most of the time were the certain types who are often seen outside or who readily talk to surveyors unlike those who are risk averse? Then there's dealing with pauses in data collection in hotspots vis-a-vis the need for a quick turnaround. Do these not affect the methodology?

Even before the pandemic, producing a representative data is already challenging. With excellent, tried and tested methodology it can be done. But the challenge that the pandemic brings to accessing communities and collecting data face-to-face has become harder. There has yet to be a tested and proven methodology that considers the factors that might be affected by this pandemic (e.g. coverage bias, non-response bias, response rates). The last pandemic the world experienced was in 1918. There were no surveys at that time which actual elections had validated.

There are still 48 days to go before election day. Some developments can still happen that might change the trajectory of any campaign. A well-coordinated social media propaganda could be overcome by well-thought out and persistent groundwork which might change people’s fleeting political moods.


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