Saving The Stragglers

It is now about bringing in the stragglers.

 Below is the SWS April survey on the Senate race with comparables for March and February. In analyzing the numbers the key statistic is relative voter preference i.e. you don’t have to be handsome, just the 12th least ugly. Rankings are important for funding and bragging rights but are otherwise immaterial since all winners get the same ticket to the party.

Name     4/13 Preference(Rank)    3/13 Preference(Rank)  2/13Preference(Rank)

Legarda          59% (1)                                 59% (1)                     64% (1)

Cayetano          52% (2)                               57% (2)                     58% (3)

Binay              49% (3-4)                             47% (5-7)                 47% (7)

Villar               49% (3-4)                             47% (5-7)                 53% (4)

Escudero        47% (5)                                 48% (3-4)                 62% (2)

Aquino            44% (6)                                 42% (10)                   42% (9-10)

Pimentel         43% (7-8)                             47% (5-7)                 48% (5-6)

Ejercito           43% (7-8)                             48% (3-4)                 42% (9-10)

Angara            42% (9)                                 39% (12)                   39% (11-12)

Poe                  39% (10-11)                         40% (8)                     48% (5-6)

Trillanes         39% (10-11)                         44% (8)                     46% (8)

Enrile              37% (12-13)                         37% (13-14)             38% (13)

Honasan         37% (12-13)                         43% (9)                     34% (15)

Zubiri              35% (14-15)                         35% (15)                   39% (11-12)

Magsaysay     35% (14-15)                         37% (13-14)             32% 16)

Candidates 1-9 (Legarda, Cayetano, Binay, Villar, Escudero, Aquino, Pimentel, Ejercito, and possibly Angara) look reasonably safe so it is now about those in the cusp. The polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 2%: On this basis and assuming the elections were held today Poe, Trillanes, Enrile, Honasan, Zubiri and Magsaysay have a statistical chance of filling the last 3 slots.

What factors could most influence the final outcome for these six? In my opinion they are PNoy, Binay, money, headlines and organization.

The President sees the Senate race as the first real referendum on his Administration, hence the masthead Team Pinoy. With 6-7 of his team looking comfortable, the challenge for PNoy is to carry Poe, Magsaysay and Trillanes, I imagine in that order of preference (Risa looks a stretch but she could still surprise), for a resounding 9/12 or 10/12 vote of confidence. For this the President has to go all in. He has to hold the hand of each of them in dedicated ads, photo ops and sorties. He has to make the calls to the mega donors for the extra checks. He has to convince voters why their election will make the difference to his Presidency. He has to publicly hug them and kiss them as one of his own.

Binay has to do the same for Enrile, Honasan and Zubiri. He has the popularity and resources to tip over one but probably not all of them since the space is crowded (His dilemma: Favoring any one will only alienate him with the other two). The question is whether it is worth his political and financial capital to spoil the President’s party and further annoy him. Binay’s math was based on having enough UNA candidates to lock the Senate. It looks now like UNA will at best only be able to get in 5 which is short of what he needs.

The nice thing about Jojo is he can play any cards he is dealt. He knows when to fold, he knows when to raise. A reported Corona supporter, he handled the Chief Justice’s impeachment in stride. Similarly he will  only be temporarily fazed by a Team Pinoy victory knowing the Senate deck will be reshuffled post election. In short –and this is bad news for Jack, Gringo and Migz- Binay may just back off and chill out these next two weeks.

Erap and JPE are the other two Kings who were supposed to carry the UNA. Unfortunately, ERAP is preoccupied with his own Manila mayoralty race and has just been presented with a P300 million bill by the authorities for services rendered on his plunder case. JPE, I suspect, will now just focus on his son.

Money is a game changer in the sprint to the finish. The UNA seems to have the bigger war chest but with the polls where they are, its fat cats may just skip town. Some of the weaker candidates may even just take what money there is and run (away I mean).

Last minute negative headlines will trip some candidates. Expect dirty tricksters to  be up to no good. They will be furiously combing opponents’ closets for skeletons.

The ground game of voter mobilization and poll checking is the last big mover. Surveys are an indication of voter preferences. They do not necessarily translate to how the respondents will actually vote, if at all. Presently 55% of potential voters have not decided on their full slate. In 2010 and 2007, voters only voted on average for 7.8 and 9.1 respectively out of the 12 Senatorial positions; so filling up the undecided slots is critical.

Voter turn-out in mid-term elections is typically lower (in 2007 it was 66%) than in Presidential election years (in 2010 it was 74%) because of the lesser buzz. Getting out the vote could spell the difference in the close races. Local government, NGOs and blocs like religious organizations and the military; could play a decisive factor in this regard.  The Catholic vote, this could be your year.

I guess when all else fails there is always the phone: Hello, Garci?

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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