A retired secretary-general of the National Statistical Coordination Board and member of the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) Actuarial Research and Development Group questioned the results of the Pulse Asia surveys, all of which showed presidential bet Ferdinand Marcos Jr. being the runaway winner of next week’s elections.
Romulo Virola, also a former professor at the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Mathematics, said Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) were over-represented while Millennials (1981-1996) and Generation Z (1997-2012) were under-represented in the Pulse Asia surveys, notably the February survey where Marcos Jr. was reportedly at his peak with more than 50 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote for him.
Virola noted some inconsistencies in Pulse Asia’s figures, such as the “serious mismatches” between the number of registered voters in relation to the population in seven of the country’s 17 regions.
He said it was possible that voters who reside in one place may have registered in another place where vote buying was rampant. It was also possible that the poor were following the advice of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, who said they should accept the bribes of corrupt politicians but follow their conscience when casting their votes.
Virola’s review of the questionable data was released to local media recently.
He said surveys that produced results that were later disproven by voters is not new, nor is it unique to the Philippines.
As far back as 1936, he cited the then popular Literary Digest magazine that predicted that GOP bet Gov. Alfred Lando of Kansas would defeat incumbent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) by a margin of 57 percent vs. 43 percent.
Instead, voters re-elected FDR for the second of his four terms to the tune of 62 percent vs. 38 percent.
More recently, almost all US pollsters predicted that former First Lady and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential elections.
The Philippines’ two top survey firms, Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Stations have been predicting a win by Marcos Jr. in direct contradiction to Google Trends, which says Leni Robredo is on her way to a highly probable win next week.
The data and methodology discussed by Virola appear to indicate that the country’s top pollsters have not been following their scientific methods.
He said in the Pulse Asia samples, “the younger ones were under-represented and the older ones over-represented” when compared to the voting age population.
Specifically, he said, the polling firm “under-represented the 18 to 24 age group…by 46 percent, and the 25 to 34 age group…by 12 percent.”
The former is especially notable as candidate Robredo has been especially strong with the youth such as college students. It can be noted that she has been endorsed by numerous student councils of private as well as government universities, while Marcos Jr. has not received a single endorsement from any university or college.
Mock polls in the institutions of higher learning have Robredo winning anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of the vote.
Virola also raised the possibility that younger voters “could be less cooperative in responding to Pulse Asia surveys.”
On the other end of the spectrum, late middle aged or senior citizens have been “quite heavily over-represented in the Pulse Asia” surveys, he said, possibly due to light snacks being served them while answering survey questionnaires.
This could explain why the son and namesake of the late dictator’s greatest following is among middle-aged and older voters.
Due to the skewed data, Virola said the youth vote “could very well spring a surprise when the actual results of the May 2022 elections come out.”
Older voters, he added, may have various reasons aside from fears of COVID-19 infection for not voting at all.