I never thought I would be writing again about Philippine Election 2022, but I think the only closure to this long and winding road would be the actual result come May 9. But with the recent developments where PULSE ASIA survey results showed voters’ reference being unchanged is a bit baffling considering the wide lead at 56% vs 23% which does not translate to the ground support that we are seeing during rallies.
Although rally attendances are not the determining factor of any election, a 56% preference would mean that almost every region would have that much preference over one candidate. But on the contrary, we are seeing almost similar crowd estimates (on a conservative basis if not slightly leaning to the other candidate) at least in every area where both major campaigns are held (Pampanga, Bulacan, Cavite, Pangasinan, Cebu and other places in Visayas and Mindano).
However, we also have to note that crowd estimates are oftentimes debatable since the numbers kept changing depending on the source. A “childish” analogy, as one would put it, could even go as far as believing in rallies with an average of 40,000-50,000 attendees per area as compared to only 2,400 samples nationwide (although the latter is, of course, more scientific in approach that’s why it has been a credible basis by many political analysts and strategists, at least as of the moment).
As Pulse Asia President also said in his previous interview, “these are the numbers they are getting from the field”, is a safe stance for the survey company. True indeed, an untampered data collection is ideal. But with the change in the landscape of the current political situation in the country, could this lead of more than 50%, which was never before seen in the history, be a bit overwhelming?
Then-Mayor Duterte had a 35% voting preference before winning the Presidency in 2016 followed by three more candidates at 23% (Poe), 17% (Roxas), and 16% (Binay) respectively with late Mirriam Defensor Santiago trailing at far 5th at 2%. Does this mean that former Senator Marcos Jr is even more popular now considering that we also have other candidates like Leni Robredo, Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson, and even Manny Pacquiao, among others?
PULSE ASIA SURVEY FLAWS ACCORDING TO STATISTICIANS
While data collection is one thing, the sampling methodology is also another thing. You start with identifying the “samples” to be surveyed and when it becomes questionable, the result will also be questionable. And that is why we shouldn’t just accept survey results without verifying the methodology used.
To summarize, Mr. Romulo Virola (former Secretary-General of the National Statistical Coordination Board) raised a concern about Pulse Asia’s stratification variable using regional desegregation. It means that the samples were chosen in accordance with the regional desegregation of registered voters (not by age, educational attainment, or socioeconomic status). Mr. Virola highlighted that while it was not intentional on the part of Pulse Asia not to use an equitable representation due to possible logistical limitations, it may also be good to consider updated the methods to increase its accuracy.
We know that conducting a survey is also very expensive and I remember the President of Pulse Asia said in previous interviews that they were usually commissioned by ABS-CBN which made it easier for them to conduct the surveys before.
However, some experts are looking at this inequitable representation of samples (especially the exclusion of younger age groups) makes the latest survey results seem a little “biased” with the current use of less updated methodology.