Join the campaign (Learn More)

The Manila Times : Marcos message resonates, rivals cannot get their message across

News & Interviews
18 December 2021

By Yen Makabenta | The Manila Times

First word

I WANT to discuss today the published results of the two latest surveys of voter preferences for the May 2022 elections by Publicus Asia and the DZRH broadcasting network, and what they portend for the coming balloting.

Although the campaign has not officially started (it will only roll in February next year when the Commission on Elections sounds the gun), voters across the archipelago are openly and enthusiastically expressing their keen interest in the elections, and their preferred choices for president and vice president if the elections were held today.

The underlying message of the electorate in the Publicus and DZRH voter preference surveys for the May 2022 elections is uniform and very nearly incontrovertible when placed alongside earlier surveys by the same outfits. Voter support for Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio is overwhelming; it has not changed after several months of survey research by Publicus Asia and DZRH.

On the other hand, the survey message to their rivals for the presidency and vice presidency has been unremittingly grim. BBM-Sara will beat their opponents even if all their survey numbers were combined to support one candidate among them.

If the numbers change because of the withdrawal of some candidates, it will most probably only increase the margins for the BBM-Sara UniTeam.

Publicus Asia December survey

The tandem of Bongbong Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio topped Publicus Asia's Pahayag Quarter 4 (PHYG-Q4) conducted from Dec. 6 to 10, 2021.

The tandem also topped the firm's survey conducted for the third quarter for presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The fourth quarter results of Publicus Asia's survey showed that Marcos got a preference rating of 51.9 percent among 1,500 respondents, which is an improvement over his 49.3 percent rating of the third quarter survey.

"Over half of respondents (52 percent) tagged Bongbong Marcos as their preferred choice for president. His choice share increased by 2.6 percent from his 49.3 percent in PHYG-Q3. [Vice President] Leni Robredo is holding steady from quarter to quarter at around 20 percent to 21 percent," Publicus Asia said.

Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso came in third with 7.9 percent, while Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao followed with 3.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

For vice president, Sara Duterte-Carpio got a preference rating of 54.8 percent for a commanding lead over the 11.2 percent of Willie Ong, who is the running mate of Domagoso.

Lacson's running mate, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto 3rd got a preference rating of 11 percent, while Robredro's running mate, Sen. Francisco "Kiko" Pangilinan, got 9.7 percent.

DZRH December survey

The second-wave preelection survey of the DZRH Desisyon 2022, conducted nationwide on December 11 to 12, showed that Marcos is the preferred choice, over seven other candidates, to be the country's 17th president, with 49.2 percent of respondents saying that they will vote for him.

Second to Marcos, Vice President Robredo got 16.2 percent while Isko Moreno Domogoso placed third, earning 10.4 percent voters' preference rating.

Senator Pacquiao placed fourth with a voters' preference rating of 8.2 percent followed by Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, who had withdrawn his candidacy for vice president on Tuesday), with 5.8 percent and 4.9 percent for Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson.

Retired general Antonio Parlade and labor leader Leody de Guzman managed to earn less than 1 percent with voters' preference ratings of 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, while 4.5 percent of the respondents were undecided.

The latest nationwide pre-election survey of the DZRH Desisyon 2022 has a sample size of 7,614 respondents from the 17 regions all over the country, with a margin of error of 1.13 percent.

Marcos, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer, enjoyed the lead in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), 75.3 percent; Ilocos Region, 74.7 percent; Davao Region, 68.3 percent; and Cagayan Valley, 64.3 percent.

Four regions gave Marcos more than 50 percent voters' preference ratings, including Calabarzon, 50.8 percent; Eastern Visayas, 56.1 percent; Northern Mindanao, 57.0 percent; and Soccsksargen, 54.4 percent.

Robredo, a full-blooded Bicolana, topped in the Bicol Region with a voters' preference rating of 57.6 percent; Marcos still got a significant rating of 23.8 percent.

In terms of percentage, there were more in the Bicol Region (23.8 percent) preferring Marcos for president than those in the Ilocos Region preferring Robredo for president (10.5 percent).

Robredo got a rating of 10.1 percent in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Domagoso, 26.8 percent.

But the survey showed that a lesser number in the Bicol Region (5.6 percent) prefer Domagoso for president than those who prefer Robredo for president in the NCR (10.1 percent).

Of the 17 regions, Domagoso earned single-digit percentage voters' preference ratings in seven, including Regions 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and CAR.

Likewise, Robredo also got seven single-digit percentage voters' preference ratings out of the 17 regions that include CAR, Caraga Administrative Region, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Regions 9, 10, 11 and 12.

With the highest voters' preference rating in CAR at 75.3 percent, Marcos' lowest preference rating is 23.8 percent in the Bicol Region.

The survey was conducted days before Go, President Rodrigo Duterte's preferred successor, filed his formal withdrawal from the presidential race in the 2022 polls.

Go in late November said he was dropping out of the race because he did not want Duterte to be "trapped in the middle."

The senator earlier filed his certificate of candidacy for vice president but later opted to seek the presidency.

Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio opted to team up with Marcos.

What survey results mean

The results of the Publicus and DZRH surveys, like the results of informal surveys by other groups, confirm to the mind the problem of messaging by the candidates in the 2022 election.

The message of Bongbong Marcos — coded as national unity and unifying leadership — appears to be resonating with voters. Even though this message has not been fully fleshed out in speech or manifesto, the public seems to be attaching all good things to it.

On the other hand, the other presidential aspirants appear to be still groping for a clear and effective message in their campaign.

They have not grasped the high importance of issues in a national election, especially a campaign for the highest offices of government.

Vocabulary of politics

Issues, it's been well said, are the vocabulary of politics. Skeptical voters will not accept self-congratulatory descriptions of a candidate's virtues and attributes. Neither will they permit themselves to be deceived by mere promises on the campaign trail and propaganda.

According to political strategist Dick Morris, " political candidates need to use the vocabulary of issues to tell voters who they are. Those attributes the electorate refuses to infer from image, it will willingly learn from issue positions. Ultimately… it is not the issue itself that is crucial; it is what a candidate's advocacy of a specific cause says about his values and philosophy.

"To work, an issue must be real. It needs to deal with a deep concern for the electorate's concerns and must constitute a real solution in the minds of the voters. Symbolic nonsense such as flag burning or recitation of the pledge of allegiance in schools won't do the trick anymore. The electorate has grown up."