By Tony Lopez
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
The Manila Times
As I have written in a previous column (December 17, 2009), the May 10 presidential election is going to be tighter than most people think.
A Social Weather Stations survey of December 27 to 28, 2009 found support for Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd for president has diminished, from 46 percent to 44 percent three weeks after a previous survey (December 5 to 10, 2009) also by SWS. On the other hand, support for Sen. Manny Villar has increased dramatically, by 6 percentage points, from 27 percent to 33 percent.
Assuming a high turnout of 45 million voters, 6 percent translates into 2.7 million votes—a big gain in just 20 days. That implies Villar is gaining 135,000 votes nationwide every day. That is not “soft” support, contrary to what former Sen. Frank Drilon insists. If Villar gains 100,000 votes every day for the next 120 days, he adds 12 million votes to his base by May 10.
At the start of January 2010, the former Senate president already had 33 percent, or 14.8 million votes vs. 19.8 million for Noynoy, a difference of 5 million votes. If Noynoy remains stagnant at 44 percent, or 19.8 million votes and Villar garners just six million of the 12 million he is likely to gain in 120 days, the tycoon will beat the Hacienda Luisita heir by one million votes—20.8 million vs. 19.8 million, a margin of half percent. This indicates the May 10 election will be very, very tight, almost too close to call.
Why is Noynoy losing support? His campaign people blame lack of advertising. That’s a lie. His two biggest supporters, Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda, are on primetime tv nightly, dishing out mash or what the Inquirer’s John Nery calls “manufactured news.” TV viewers associate Kris with Noynoy and Noynoy with Kris, and Kris almost always never fails to mention their late mother Cory and the travails they have had since her death. Now, that’s subliminal advertising, which is more effective than direct or bought advertising.
Basically just a politician
So why is Noynoy losing support? The answer plainly is that the Cory euphoria has begun to wear thin to the public, which started to view Noynoy on his own merits. Aside from being the only son of the martyred Ninoy Aquino and the beloved Cory Cojuangco Aquino, Noynoy, 50 this February, is basically just a politician, having been a congressman for nine years and a senator for almost three years. What did he do in all those years?
Wikipedia has this entry on Noynoy which is self-explanatory:
“While Aquino currently enjoys considerable support, most agree that this can only be attributed to both his parents’ successes and not his own. In 11 years in government, critics note that Aquino has not made any significant contributions to legislation. Several commentators have criticized Aquino for showing little to deserve the presidency aside from his parents’ reputations. Still, his supporters respond by saying that his lineage is relevant as it should demonstrate that he shares the same values of honesty and good governance as his parents.”
“Noynoy’s detractors have also pointed out that, at almost 50 years old he has neither a wife nor any children. Moreover, Aquino had lived with his mother, the former president, until her death. To them, this demonstrates how Aquino has never held any real responsibilities of his own throughout his life.”
Another issue is Noynoy’s stake in his family’s 6,400-hectare Hacienda Luisita. As president, Corazon Aquino was criticized for failing to push land redistribution reforms given their alleged conflict of interest.
Thirteen farmers were massacred and 51 were injured marching at Mendiola to Malacañang seeking land reform during her presidency in 1987.
Picketing at the Hacienda, 12 farmers and two children died in the hands of the Aquino family’s personnel as the group demanded fairer wages, employee benefits and, broadly speaking, a greater commitment to land reform.
Since peaking at 45 percent in September, Noynoy has not gained any more adherents than he already had when he announced his candidacy. The SWS made it appear then the 45 percent was 60 percent because it allowed respondents to pick three names as choices for president, thus bloating the percentage of actual support for Noynoy. Since he is in the Top 3, Noynoy is mentioned by respondents 100 percent of the time, not half of the time.
The SWS December 5 to 10 and December 27 to 28 surveys had the same size of respondents, 2,100, and margin of error, 2.2 percent, except for Metro Manila where the error margin is a disturbingly high plus or minus 6 percent, and in balance of Luzon where the error margin is also a high 4 percent.
In its 2004 exit polls (which should be highly accurate considering that SWS was asking people who have already voted and therefore had no reason to lie), SWS made the mistake in predicting a Gloria Arroyo win in Metro Manila on election day. It was won by FPJ.