The nitty-gritty. Voter preference can be broken down extensively now because the technology is there. But it does not make much sense to do so because it all boils down to no-brainer hot-button issues that the majority of the public is concerned about. In a pandemic environment, it is about survival.
When in survival mode, people tend to be more conservative, less open to diversity, more suspicious of novelty, and more inward-looking — the latter, in the Philippines’ setting, translating to an increased focus on family interests and security. They are also likely to favour strong — even iron-fisted — leadership. Because the pandemic limited choices, choice and diversity of options becomes less-important and clear direction more paramount.
It is also about the future — a digital dystopia that is already here. The pandemic has disrupted First World approaches to the point that there is accelerated deployment of artificial intelligence and machine-learning. This has an impact on employment as unskilled work are the low-hanging fruits picked off by the early waves of an AI takeover. On the other hand, increased digitization may also enable government to reduce corruption and cut red tape and, as a result, improve its delivery of basic services.
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Education also has been disrupted. We cannot move forward with a Department of Education (DepEd) that refuses to accept the reality that our learners are running behind global standards. High quality education is critical in a democracy where enormous power is in the hands of young people. If the youth are intellectually unequipped to worked that power, the quality of their government and politics will reflect that gap. This is evident in the politics and politicians Filipinos are subject to today.
What is ironic is that candidates who have signified their intent to challenge the incumbent are still in the dinosaur age of politics. They are still employing old tactics. Data-driven decision-making should be the linchpin of any campaign in this election cycle. It is too early to break down the electorate into liberal and conservative as “Chief Political Analyst” Antonio Contreras attempts to do in his Manila Times piece today “Invisible and unarticulated ideologies: Divisive issues and voter preference”. The professor’s data (which likely was collected at significant cost) reveals what any cluey political observer with a good ear on the ground could have told us way back…
As shown in Table 1, the results of the PINASurvey conducted by DigiVoice show that majority of the respondents agree with the death penalty (62.3 percent) and lowering the age of criminal responsibility (53.3 percent), even as only a minority favor the legalization of medical marijuana (30.6 percent), same-sex marriages (30.9 percent) and abortion (5.6 percent). These suggest that Filipinos, as represented by the respondents, tend to be more conservative on these issues. However, Table 2 shows that the majority support media freedom (67.3 percent) and only a minority support the position that communists are terrorists (27.3 percent). So, on these issues, Filipinos tend to be more liberal in orientation.
The 21-45 bracket is 40-million-strong. With traditional campaigning an impossibility, the candidates will have to use the platforms at their disposal to reach voters. The messaging has to be tailored. The divide-and-conquer strategy may work but why settle for a plurality when you can have a majority? Politicians shouldn’t waste this opportunity.
The future of the country moving forward is at stake. If the voters aren’t presented with a viable alternative, they will likely go for the incumbent. It’s a reality that the debates set the trend because that is how voters gauge their candidates. Surveys are guides. They are not the roadmap to victory.
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