The Manila Times : Leni has brought upon herself her likely landslide defeat

16 March 2022

By Rigoberto Tiglao | The Manila Times

IT's hilarious for Yellow columnists to keep on using clichés they think make them look smart, like "in high stakes diplomacy, nothing is final until its final." The title of one column was a loud whistling while walking past the graveyard: A "re Leni and Isko turning the tide?" I'll bet soon there will be even priests calling for the faithful to chant their "oratio imperata" for the Marcos-Sara team's ratings to be shot down by God's thunderbolts.

The Pulse Asia report the other day was another confirmation of the certainty that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will win the presidency in May, with his formidable 60 percent preference, in politics light years ahead of Leni Robredo's 15 percent, practically unchanged since last year.

Her spokesman's comment was so ignorant and stupid, that the poll results did not reflect the "massive record-breaking rallies" for his boss. This guy must be smoking too much weed in his wretchedness over Robredo's failure to launch, even being beaten by Isko Moreno in some surveys.

Polls, at the least the real ones, merely reflect a sample of the population's current preference for voting for a candidate. While there are a myriad of factors determining these, most important are what I call "fundamentals," a term I borrow from the stock market, which refers to the factors that contribute to the underlying — i.e., real — value or worth of a listed company. These are measurable "hard data," such as a company' debt-to-equity ratio, cash flow and market role.

In elections, the fundamentals more often vary from one poll to another, from one candidate to another. But they are unmistakably real fundamentals once they are identified.

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What is useful in the work of the most respected pollster now, Pedro Laylo Jr. — although for clients' eyes only — is that he provides data to identify these fundamentals. After all, he claims, his polls are intended not for propaganda but for a candidate to craft the appropriate campaign strategy. (Laylo's poll though was leaked on Facebook, which puts it in the public domain.)

Solid North

One such fundamental is the reality of a "Solid North," i.e., that northern Luzon provinces vote more solidly for a candidate from among its ranks. That this phenomenon exists has been challenged in past years, even in the last elections as the Solid North didn't deliver as many votes as necessary to defeat Robredo. Most people are convinced though that Robredo cheated, so her lead was just 220,000.

In Laylo's report, the Solid North is as solid as ever, overwhelmingly for Marcos: Cordillera, 86 percent; Ilocos, 91 percent; Cagayan Valley, 98 percent. In Robredo's case, her support even in her home region, Bicol, had declined steeply, from 85 percent in January to just 65 percent in February

That is a fundamental, which will be unaffected no matter how big the rallies will be in the next 54 days to May 9.

What is also another "fundamental" is the creation by President Duterte since 2016 of another "solid": the Solid South — mainly Northern Mindanao and the Davao provinces — which going by the Laylo polls delivers a significant bloc of votes for Marcos, 79 percent compared to the Solid North's 92 percent.

Fundamental

This particular fundamental working for Marcos has been actually created as a result of the most brilliant maneuver of this electoral contest, which could assure the country of 12 years of continuity. This is the decision of Duterte's daughter Sara to run as Marcos' vice presidential running mate, not as president as she had been prodded to do early last year.

Marcos and Sara both running for the president would have split the votes, which would have allowed Robredo to win by a slight lead, with the massive support of the US, the Communist Party and the still-Yellow faction of the business elite. Instead, the Solid South's votes — which would have been Sara's — mobilized for Marcos.

Laylo's poll sections on the respondents' reasons for their voting preferences reveal how crucial the maneuver to have a Marcos-Sara team is both for the perception and reality of their winning even by a landslide.

The respondents were asked what kind of president they preferred for the next six years. Some 57 percent wanted a president who would "continue the kind of leadership Duterte has undertaken." However, 40 percent wanted a new brand of leadership. This schizophrenia of sorts is also reflected in the fact that 57 percent of those voting for Marcos were "Duterte sympathizers" while 53 percent were anti-Duterte respondents and those with no opinion about him.

Maneuver

The BBM-Sara team therefore meant a smart maneuver to get both pro- and anti-Duterte voters to vote for it, especially for Marcos. Particularly since Duterte (so far) has not endorsed Marcos, those who don't like the President feel that they are voting for Marcos who would be different from him (e.g., with more respect for human rights or more friendly to the US). On the other hand, the very fact that Duterte's daughter is Marcos' running mate makes them think that Marcos after all, is secretly preferred by the President, and would continue his style of leadership.

It was also a clever maneuver in that Marcos doesn't carry the baggage of the criticisms against Duterte. Since he has not been endorsed by Duterte, he doesn't need to answer for the charges against him. The claim since he assumed office in 2016 — repeated again and again by US-funded media such as Rappler and VERA Files — that he is a tyrant who would continue his rule through a proxy has been buried six feet underground.

Marcos in effect is reaping Duterte's political achievements — resulting in his satisfaction rating the highest ever recorded for a president in the last phase of his presidency — while distancing from, and being impervious to the charges against him.

Robredo will be actually bringing squarely down on her head after her landslide defeat in May.

Since 2016 she has been hurling nonstop invective and lies against Duterte — whom 57 percent of voters (going by the Laylo poll) feel should be emulated by the next president. It was already beyond rationality for her to go against a president whom 75 percent of Filipinos have judged, based on his satisfaction rating in the last phase of his rule, as the best president in the post-EDSA era. With the phenomena of the Solid North and the new Solid South, Robredo — handicapped in the first place by her very limited experience in local governance and mediocre leadership qualities — shouldn't have had the gall to run in the first place.

No amount of "well-attended" rallies in the next few weeks will change that fundamental. The only chance she has would be to beg for Duterte's forgiveness and get his all-out endorsement.