Crunching the numbers 1
Let's take a look at those Pulse Asia results, in the rather crude chronology I strung together. Aside from those old workhorses, name recall and heavy adspend, what other factors do we see pushing up, or pulling down, the candidates' prospects? 1. Two of the consistent Top 3 candidates ran in the last elections: Loren Legarda for vice president, of course, and Ping Lacson for president. That simple fact must have added to their electability. Running a national campaign forces a candidate to put up a national organization; Legarda's organizational prowess in 2004 was especially impressive. Ping's presidential campaign was no slouch, either; it met its stated goal, of securing over 3 million votes. (This, in my view, effectively cost Fernando Poe Jr. the margin of error he needed to counter any election fraud, but that, as they say, is another story.) But organization is not the only advantage Loren and Ping enjoy; the publicity they reaped from running strong campaigns (and of course from the post-election positions they took) has, in my view, helped them retain their impressive ratings. Ping did not do as well the first time he ran for the Senate; SWS surveys showed him at 27-28 percent in the last three months of the 2001 campaign. He eventually placed 10th. Loren, as any political junkie knows, topped the 1998 Senate elections. In the first two months of the 1998 campaign, however, as measured by SWS surveys, she was solidly in the middle ring of the winners' circle. One possible implication for 2007. Loren may become only the second person in our history to top the Senate elections more than once. (Jovito Salonga holds the record. He ran three times, and topped the race each time.) One possible implication for 2010: A reelected Manny Villar will run for president, even against Mar Roxas. He has nothing to lose, except another sackful of his millions. 2. Kiko Pangilinan is the third member of the Top 3; he even topped the latest SWS survey, although Loren and Manny Villar were well within the margin of error (thus Inquirer.net's more accurate headline: Kiko, Loren, Villar share lead). I was a little puzzled why he was consistently doing well. (He sees the jump in his SWS rating as a fruit of his decision to decline GO's offer and run as an independent; I would agree, as long as it's clear we're talking about the increase in his numbers.) Is his good fortune, as Dean Jorge Bocobo suggested in Newsstand a while ago, purely the result of the support of "Sharonians?" I am not so sure. But a look at the SWS surveys in the run-up to the 2001 elections tells me he may be right, on that point. (I know, I know! Better if we use Pulse Asia data, but unfortunately I don't have access to that kind of information right now; I use SWS results, with the usual caveats.) My point: in the last three months of the 2001 campaign, Kiko was receiving ratings similar to what he is receiving now. But in 2001, Kiko placed 8th. He never even entered the top half of the winners' list in any of the surveys. The question is: If he has essentially similar ratings in 2001 and in 2007 (on the back, let us say for argument's sake, of his wife Sharon's fan base), what explains his consistent top ranking now? He's running against fewer big guns. No Noli de Castro, no Frank Drilon, no Serge Osmena, no Juan Flavier, no Jun Magsaysay. And the big guns he ran with in 2001 and who are running again this year, Joker Arroyo and Manny Villar, have slipped somewhat in the ratings; today, their powder isn't all dry. Thus: in 2001, a rating of 38 (SWS) was good only for eighth place; today, 39.4 (Pulse) is good enough for second-to-third. 3. Gringo Honasan remains an enigma. Could he enjoy the same residual goodwill that Erap Estrada used to enjoy when he was still an active candidate? In the low- to mid-30s: That's the range of Gringo's usual ratings. In 1995, this was good for ninth place; in 2001, it was good for 13th. (He won a three-year term, essentially to serve out what was left of Tito Guingona's term of office, after Tito was named vice president.) These days, he is in the mid- to high-20s, which however is good enough for 11th place (insert my big-gun theory here). Will his ratings improve to his usual range in the next two months, or is the spike in his numbers in the latest Pulse survey a last hurrah for the controversial candidate who cannot campaign in person (he is, yet again, under detention) and who has not yet spent a centavo on TV advertising? That last fact makes him a certain target for either junking (by those temporary alliances he carries or who carry him) or fraud. Maybe both. It's past 2 am. What say we continue this number-crunching tomorrow?
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