Espinoza: The likely effect of poll surveys

The conduct of election surveys is business such that the credibility of the survey results is always subjected to critical acceptance, particularly from those who are lagging behind in the surveys. I could not exactly recall when election surveys began in the Philippines, but I’m pretty sure that the precursors of these surveys were the astute politicians who wanted to determine their chances of winning in an election.The surveys I’ve known in those years when I wasn’t a qualified voter yet are about food or home products to determine its acceptability to the consumers. The surveys even came with samples of the products. I think it was not so long ago that election surveys became a craze among candidates. If my memory serves me right, I think the surveys in the elections after we regained the freedom from Martial Law were done in person. No written questionnaires were given to respondents.The SWS (Social Weather Station) was founded by Dr. Mahar Mangahas and his partners in August 1985. It’s a private social, non-stock and non-profit research institution in the country. It is the foremost public-opinion polling body in the Philippines. Pulse Asia Research Inc., also a polling survey company in the country, is perhaps a spin-off of SWS because it was established in November 2017 by Felipe B. Miranda, a founding fellow of SWS. (Wikipedia)SWS, in its website, reminds the public that false reportage about SWS surveys is very common in the period leading up to the election that it enjoins the public to rely only on its website for its survey report that it officially releases to the public.What is peculiar about the poll or election surveys is that it doesn’t state the addresses of the respondents where the surveys are conducted. The number of the respondents, randomly picked by the surveyors, do not truly represent the entire sentiment of the voters.The latest poll survey of Pulse Asia conducted from April 16 to 21, 2022 on 2,400 adult respondents showed that UniTeam’s presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos still leads by 56 percent against the rest of the presidential bets.Pulse Asia had been accused as “False Asia” by the supporters of some presidential candidates for alleged misleading, if not inaccurate, surveys of the candidates’ acceptability.According to Pulse Asia, VP Leni Robredo remained in the second spot with 23 percent. Sen. Manny Pacquiao is third place with seven percent, overtaking Mayor Isko Moreno who slid to fourth place with four percent. Sen. Ping Lacson is still in fifth place with two percent. At the bottom of the presidential race are former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Faisal Mangondato, labor leader Leody de Guzman, former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales and lawyer Jose Montemayor Jr.The poll surveys simply lighten up the hearts of the candidates who lead in the surveys. Naturally, those lagging behind in the surveys could only wish that the results of the surveys are not reflective of the voter’s true feelings. Others even cast doubt on the credibility of the sources and on the mechanics of the surveys.The only risk that I could imagine on the effect of surveys is the remote possibility that the poll survey leader would lose to the candidate who is way behind the leader. If this happens, it’s inevitable that accusations of election fraud or cheating would flood the Commission on Elections and this could be a big blow to the integrity of relatively honest and clean polls.