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Misreading surveys 

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DUTERTE-DUTERTE. Sara without the H and Digong the Punisher, in that order,  respectively leading all prospective comers to the presidency and the vice presidency in 2022.

So pollster Pulse Asia dished out its latest concoction. So, what else is new?

Unable to bite more than I can possibly chew, more so digest, I leave what Pulse Asia cooked to the delectation of the DDS and the excretion by the opposition. 

By happenstance, there is one poll contemporaneous with Pulse Asia’s that is more to my taste, undemanding as it is of the learned exegesis mandated in a study of the Duterte-Duterte phenomenon, and where but a rudimentary knowledge of elementary analysis is sufficient.  

On Wednesday, popped this item in the web and in the page of at least one mainstream publication: Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda is among the top five performing provincial chief executives in the Philippines, according to a recent independent non-commissioned survey of the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. .
A tsunami of congratulatory messages to and professions of pride in the governor swept the social media pages of Kapampangans for this no-mean-feat of their beloved Delta.  

Amid all the accolades, the governor shared: Base po sa independent non-commissioned survey ng RP- Mission and Development Foundation Inc. sa 5,000 respondents mula June 10-25, 2021, napabilang po ang inyong lingkod sa limang governors na may mataas na job performance rating…
Pangako ko po, paghuhusayin ko pa po ang pagganap ko sa aking mga tungkulin bilang governor ninyo.

Where Pineda was matter-of-factly succinct, his supporters went the full nine yards of adulation that twisted and turned the survey result into what it is not. 

Number 1 in Central Luzon. Number 5 in the whole Philippines. So screamed the comments, not the least of which coming from the Pampanga Provincial Information Office. 

Totally wrong in the first. Partially right in the second. 

The objective of the survey was well defined: “Job Approval Rating of Governor/Per Regional Center.” 

Dr. Paul Martinez of RPMDC Inc. himself made it clear: “As for the governors, we chose the regional center of the provinces to gather significant data for analysis. We are hoping that this will give our public servants a good insight on how they are doing with their constituents.”

Therefore, the survey universe comprised only the 16 governors of the provinces designated as regional centers. The survey did not cover all the governors of the Philippines.  

Noted Martinez: “Of the 16 provincial governors representing in every region, 10 achieved a majority high job performance rating while six were not able to attain a majority approval.”

 

Only Pineda

In Region 3, only Pineda of Pampanga was “surveyed” and not one of the six other  governors. To say then that Pineda is Number 1 in Central Luzon is not only misleading. It is totally false. Not to say most unfair to Noveras of Aurora, Fernando of Bulacan, Garcia of Bataan, Umali of Nueva Ecija, Yap of Tarlac, and Ebdane of Zambales.       

That Pineda is Number 5 in the Philippines is true, but only with the qualification: Of the 16 governors in the country’s regional centers. Not of the 81 governors of the Philippines, much as we would wish.   

All these, even granting absolute accuracy to the survey results and the highest integrity to RPMDC Inc. 

An innocent misappreciation, if not a malicious misinterpretation, of the survey results obtained here among commenters and uploaders. Arising from either gross ignorance or abject sycophancy. 

There is a fair, if easy, appreciation of Delta’s numbers in the survey at hand. Not of themselves but in a much broader political context. This is how I apply elementary analysis.

The question of approval by the constituents of their elective officials is best answered in elections. The votes gathered in the most recent election make the ideal benchmark of the approval rating of the official, against which surveys during his/her incumbency ought to be measured. 

In the RPMDC Inc. survey, Pineda generated an approval rating of 62 percent. All on his own, absent any competitor. And all rejoiced.   

Now, let’s bring in the results of the 2019 Pampanga gubernatorial contest: Pineda – 657,606. Jomar Hizon – 229,392. James Escoto – 5,783. Amado Santos – 4,957. 

Against three rivals, Pineda polled 73.25 percent. His closest pursuer, Hizon, getting 25.5 percent. 

Basic extrapolation: Between May 2019 (election) and July 2021 (survey), Pineda’s “approval rating” went down by 11.25 percent. Sans any alternative choice. A translation of that percentage “loss” to actual number of voters will comprise the electors of a rather large Pampanga town.  

This is no cause for celebration. This is a matter of serious concern. That is, were I Pineda’s political officer. 

It’s no rocket science, my observation can easily be dismissed off. Even scoffed at as a thing of apples and oranges, or in the native context, of dalayap and aratiles. 

But isn’t that the very nature of surveys? 

The sweetness or the bitterness coming always as an aftertaste.    

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