Manila Standard : Surveys say BBM will win

18 March 2022

By Tony Lopez | Manila Standard

“This will be the most lopsided presidential elections in Philippine history.”

In my statistics class in college and in our MBA class, we were taught that a reliable survey must have an error margin of no more than 2 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.

At 95 percent confidence level, a survey’s results from a sample of say 1,200 to higher (the higher the number of respondents, the better) have a very high chance of being true for the entire population.

Thus, when a survey says 60 percent of people it polled would vote for Ferdinand Marcos Romualdez Marcos Jr., at the time of the survey, the likelihood is high that 60 percent of voters would indeed vote for Bongbong Marcos (BBM) on election day.

Assume a voter turnout of 60 million on election day. The 60 percent of 60 million is 36 million votes. BBM can expect, with a high degree of confidence (95 percent), he will get 36 million votes on May 9.

Since the margin of error is plus or minus 2 percent, BBM can expect his votes to be between 58 percent or 34.8 million and 62 percent or 37.2 million—a difference of 1.2 million votes, at – 2 percent (34.8 million) and also 1.2 million votes at +2 percent, again 1.2 million votes from the 36 million polled by the pollster.

In its survey of late February 18-22, 2022, Pulse Asia found that for President, 60 percent would vote for Marcos Jr, 15 percent for Vice President Leni Robredo, 10 Mayor Isko Moreno, 8 boxing champ Manny Pacquiao; and 2 percent for Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Pulse Asia used face-to-face interviews, 2,400 adults of voting age; ± 2% error margin at the 95% confidence level.

Robredo’s 15 percent translates into just 9 million votes—or 27 million FEWER than BBM’s 36 million votes. Subtract 15 from 60, you get a winning margin of 45 percentage points.

But then reliable surveys allow only a 2 percent margin; so 45 is like an error of 22.5 percentage points—the equivalent of 13.50 million votes. Could Pulse Asia be wrong and miss 13.50 million votes? No of course.

Yet, the claim of many Leni Robredo supporters is that surveys are wrong. That the pre-election polls reflect only the sentiment of people surveyed by the pollsters, and not the voters on election day. Leni herself makes this claim.

Leni studied economics at UP, where statistics is routinely taught. She finished law, where she learned the rule of evidence. So when she claims surveys are simply the sentiment of respondents in the survey and not those of the voting population, she is being dishonest. Yet, she runs on the platform of clean government. A clean government is a mindset. It starts with the mind. If the mind is dishonest, how can you have a clean government?

Besides, could all the surveys be so wrong?

Out of nine surveys, BBM has averaged 57 percent; Leni 15.77 percent.

The results in percentages of eight recent surveys:

SWS October 2021: BBM 47; Leni 18; Laylo Research Nov 2021: BBM 58; Leni 13; Pulse Asia December 2021: BBM 53; Leni 14; OCTA Research Dec 2021: BBM 54; Leni 14; Laylo Jan 2022: BBM 64; Leni 16; Pulse Asia Jan 2022: BBM 60;Leni 16; OCTA Feb 2022: BBM 55; Leni 15; and Pulse Asia Feb 2022: BBM 60; Leni 15. All these surveys say Marcos Jr would win by a landslide come May. Leni will be relegated to the dustbin (colored pink) of history

Four pollsters—SWS, Pulse Asia, Laylo, and OCTA are very reliable because of their track record. Being wrong in the presidential surveys by high double digits would put them out of business, immediately.

SWS is 37 years old. Pulse Asia is 23. Laylo’s Junie Laylo cut his teeth as a pollster at SWS. OCTA was good during the pandemic, in making forecasts of COVID cases.

In its February 2004 survey, Pulse Asia predicted Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s victory, 31.9 percent vs. 31.7 percent of Fernando Poe Jr.

In January 2010, Pulse Asia again got it right. It predicted the victory of Benigno S. Aquino III, 37 percent, but was wrong on the eventual second placer, Erap Estrada. For runnerup, it predicted Manny Villar, with 35 percent; and Erap with just 12 percent. Pulse Asia missed getting the actual second placer by 23 percentage points.

In January 2016, Pulse Asia got the winner wrong, Grace Poe, 30 percent, followed by Jojo Binay 23 percent; Mar Roxas 20, and Rodrigo Duterte 20. Pulse Asia missed the winner (Duterte) by 20 percentage points.

So there, Pulse Asia could be wrong by 20 to 23 percentage points.

In its February 2022 survey, however, Pulse Asia sees BBM ahead by 45 percentage points—the equivalent of 27 million voters. If Pulse Asia is wrong by 20 points, or by 12 million votes, BBM still wins by 15 million votes (27-12).

Marcos Jr. is about to win the most lopsided presidential elections in Philippine history with an astonishing 36 million votes. His margin of victory over the likely second placer Robredo, will be the largest, both in terms of percentage (by 45 percent) and in number of votes (by 27 million).