What the latest surveys say

Published January 15, 2019, 12:34 AM

by John Tria



John Tria
John Tria

The Pulse Asia trust and approval ratings in December, 2018, saw the President’s trust and approval ratings rise across almost all areas and segments, even the minority ABC crowd where a lot of this chatter against the President circulates.

The only decline registered was in the NCR, where he lost 3 points in the approval rating despite adding 4 trust points. As expected, almost 9 in 10 in Mindanao trust and approve of the President.

These figures are vital benchmarks for the 2-and-a-half-year-old government that thus far has survived challenges to its mandate.

These improved figures coincide with the high exposure in mainstream and social media resulting from both positive and negative reactions to his successive statements on bishops and religion, among other topics.  The vitriol thrown by his detractors amped up the exposure, outshining other political personalities.

What this outcome means for his government and those opposing him, and how it was achieved will be the subject of political science classes for years to come.

Two things will disappoint his detractors. First is that despite the controversy surrounding his speeches, his ratings went up.  His detractors hoped that these statements and their reactions would mobilize a high level of disgust that would reduce the President’s support base, and transform it into votes for their senatorial candidates in May. It looks like it did not.

The second disappointment is that despite their best efforts, or perhaps their overbearing attention to the President’s words, their chosen candidates failed to gain the attention they needed, and did not rise in their pre-electoral survey rankings in the critical period right before the campaign period begins.

This seriously sets back opposition efforts.

What will hurt them more is how many are jumping on the bandwagon of government efforts, such as the Bangsamoro Basic Law which has proven popular among almost all of the groups that once rebelled against government, who all tried to challenge previous peace efforts and arrangements.

In the campaign for the ratification, all former armed groups are campaigning for it, replacing guns with campaign flyers. This is unprecedented and may consolidate support for government in Muslim Mindanao.

Amother bandwagon building steam is the President’s call to clean up Manila Bay, with many political personalities even opposition figures echoing Malacananag’s  call for the effort, after what has been considered a successful Boracay rehabilitation.

In the aftermath of this outcome thoughts point to the things the opposition did or did not do.

Unfortunately, the opposition never backed down from the noisy, negative campaign strategies deployed  from day one of the Duterte presidency, maintaining their sights on him. This kept  him in the consciousness of every Filipino, which is difficult to achieve in todays fast paced media cycles, where last month’s news is so easily forgotten since it is replaced with several new once so quickly.

Second, personalities pouring the negativity do a  lot of talking down and harsh language that only reduced their statements to crass politics which has begun to turn off more people seeking substantive discussion.

Any shift in strategy to veer away from the negativity now may only be construed as mere political maneouvering, making many opposition figures look insincere in their efforts.  A look at the ratings of former justice Maria Lourdes Sereno despite her high awareness may indicate this. The same is faced by Rep. Gary Alejano, where despite high awareness about his candidacy, his survey ranking is low.

Worse, in the critical  social media battleground a big part of their support base resorted to cleansing thier friends list of people they know support the president. This has shrunk their influence.

Their failure to resonate with majority, and wasting precious time babbling on cuss words and statements- turned away a bigger audience they were  supposed to build.

Meanwhile, the guy they hate just signed new laws such as a new AIDS Act, Pension reform for WW2 veterans, and the opening of new “Malasakit centers” and infrastructure projects show a government that works and gets things done.

Its not hard  to see why the President’s trust and approval ratings remained high.

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