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Political analyst warns against surveys used for propaganda, to create bandwagon effect

Political analyst Ramon Casiple (File photo from CNN Philippines)

Surveys conducted months prior to the campaign period for a national or local election are not reliable indicators of who will win in the polls, according to a political analyst.

In the Wednesday Roundtable at Lido, Novo Trends PH political analyst Ramon Casiple told reporters that more often than not, many of these surveys are conducted for candidates in their bid to get voter support and campaign funds.

Casiple said the timing of these surveys is crucial since the nearer the elections, the more reliable these polls become. He said in the country’s case, surveys prior to the first week of February may be the least reliable.

“The factor is time. If a survey is commissioned, the one who will use it, the one who will benefit from it are the planners, campaign managers, financiers, the candidate himself/herself because it will have a bearing on their finances. The voters themselves do not benefit from it because they are still deciding and are not yet serious,” Casiple explained.

“The politician will use it to create a bandwagon effect, which is very wrong. A survey is a governance tool, a policy tool (to be used in) making policies, plans. It should not be used for propaganda,” he added.

Election surveys, Casiple said, only have to ability to determine “top of mind” information. This means voters may be aware of a certain candidate that’s why he/she placed highly on the survey results but, come the elections, that candidate loses his/her bid for a certain position.

Casiple said this may also be linked to the popularity or notoriety of a candidate. In which case a high popularity or notoriety can translate to a high ranking in a survey but would eventually loose in the actual elections.

However, there have been instances when there were candidates that had low awareness in surveys but eventually landed an elective position during the actual election.

“A survey is a snapshot,” Casiple said. “Over time, the snapshot changes. This is the reason why surveys are not enough on its own. You have to understand the dynamics.”

According to a recent report from the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the latest Pulse Asia survey for the May election showed that re-electionist senators dominated the polls.

The PNA report said Senator Grace Poe again topped the survey conducted on December 14 to 21, 2018 with a 75.6 percent rating.

Senator Cynthia Villar placed second with a rating of 66.6 percent while Senator Sonny Angara placed third with a 58.5 percent rating.


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