The Manila Times : Issues do matter: Unpacking voter preferences

News & Interviews
6 July 2021

By Antonio Contreras | The Manila Times

Third of a series

ONE of the major complaints being hurled against the culture of elections in the Philippines is that people vote not according to issues but according to personalities. The 'PinaSurvey conducted from June 8 to 18 by DigiVoice using its mobile app on a randomly selected sample of 1,200 respondents has revealed that it is not entirely correct to claim that Filipino voters do not consider issues when they make their voting decisions.

In fact, the 'PinaSurvey reveals interesting results. Respondents were asked separately to identify five issues from a list of 10 concerns that they feel have the most impact on their lives. The results reveal that 74.3 percent of the respondents consider jobs as important, making it the top issue of concern. Coming in second is education (65.3 percent), followed by peace and order (63.3 percent) and income (62.7 percent). Crime came in fourth (57.7 percent) while poverty ranked fifth (53.8 percent). Environment is a main concern for 45.3 percent while graft and corruption is important to 41.4 percent. Rising prices was a concern only for 26.4 percent of the respondents, and only 9.9 percent felt that impeachment had an impact on their lives.

We correlated the opinion of respondents on whether the specific issues were felt as having impact on their lives with whether they would vote for a particular potential candidate for any post in the 2022 elections. The result is summarized in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1

Table 2

To interpret the tables, a significant relationship is indicated by the numbers that correspond to the p-value or the probability that there is no relationship between voter preference for a candidate and the opinion on the issue. Any probability that is less than 0.10 is considered significant. In simple terms, this only means that the specific issue is important to the voters of a particular potential candidate. NS implies "not significant" or that the probability that there is no relationship is greater than 0.10, which simply means in statistical terms that there is no relationship between deciding to vote for the candidate and the opinion about an issue.

Jobs are an important issue for those who expressed that they would vote for Davao City Mayor Sara "Inday" Duterte-Carpio and former senators Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos and Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes 4th. Education is considered as significantly important to the lives of those who would vote for Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, Pasig Mayor Victor "Vico" Sotto, Duterte-Carpio, Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Trillanes and retired senior associate justice Antonio Carpio.

What is interesting is that the environment was a significant issue only for Sotto voters while income was not a significant issue for the voters of Sen. Mary Grace Poe, Cayetano, former defense secretary Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro, Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon and Carpio. Crime, on the other hand, mattered to the voters of Go, Teodoro and Gordon.

Voters of Domagoso, Go and Cayetano considered poverty as a significant issue, while once again, it was only the voters of Sotto who considered the environment as significant. In addition to Sotto, voters of Duterte-Carpio, Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao and Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo all considered graft and corruption as significant. Meanwhile, inflation and high prices were considered important by voters of Domagoso, Duterte-Carpio, President Rodrigo Duterte, Robredo, Go, Cayetano, Trillanes, Teodoro, Gordon and Carpio while it did not matter to the voters of Sotto, Marcos, Pacquiao, Poe and Lacson. Finally, voters of Duterte, Go, Poe, Robredo, Trillanes, Teodoro and Carpio did not consider impeachment as a significant issue.

On a per-candidate comparison, voters of Sotto and Duterte-Carpio are the most concerned about issues - with Sotto voters being concerned about education, peace and order, income, environment, graft and corruption, and impeachment - while Duterte-Carpio voters considered jobs, education, income, graft and corruption, inflation and impeachment.

Of the 15 potential candidates, it is only the voters of Poe who did not consider any issue as significant. In addition, it is also interesting that President Rodrigo Duterte voters did not consider peace and order or criminality as important and significant - this, despite the fact that he appropriated these themes all throughout his presidency - even as Vico Sotto voters were the only ones who are significantly concerned about peace and order.

On Thursday, I will describe the demographic characteristics of the voter base of all potential candidates.