The now self-appointed “Chief Political Analyst” and Dr La Salle University professor Antonio Contreras details in his Manila Times piece “Surveying beyond who is leading: Looking into the minds of voters” a survey on “what drives voters to make certain preferences and choices”. The survey, Contreras writes, aims to inform candidates making a bid for public office in the coming elections “hopefully to make them aware of the issues that influence those choices”.
While interesting to note that Contreras’s survey showed that, when asked what they consider to be most important when choosing candidates, respondents gave “lowest consideration to their having pleasing personalities”, there is not much new insight to be gleaned from its results.
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A survey represents a snapshot of current public sentiment at a particular point in time. Consistency is key. The consistent names are still Duterte and Daughterte (i.e., the latter referring to Inday Sara Duterte). A lot can still change between now and May 2022. While Isko may be leading, public opinion will change once the campaign proper has begun and the debates are held. The Duterte brand has the equity of the incumbent.
Much has been said about the Philippines not being Davao, in relation to how the Duterte dynasty has been in place in the country’s largest city since 1986. Their track record speaks for itself, however. Former Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada set the bar so low in Manila which is why current Mayor Isko Moreno, is looking good. But in terms of actual reforms, he still has his work cut out for him. Any challenger to the incumbent will face an uphill climb. Employing old campaign strategies will not work. For example, I don’t get why Senator Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao et al don’t realize that the more they criticize the administration, the more their support base rallies to them. It is actually easier to just acknowledge what they have achieved and say I’m going to build on that and unify the country. Why this is so hard to do is reflective of the mindset of the principals and their advisers and their political maturity.
Data analytics has evolved to a point where you can measure the effectiveness of your communications and messaging and set key performance indices. You can adjust the messaging until you get the desired results. A data-driven campaign is now a reality. A campaign based on news stories being reposted on social media is not communicating with voters. The 21-45 demographic is 40-million-strong and millennials are notorious for their short attention spans. 250 words max and 15 seconds of video is the most they will tolerate. Candidates teams should be tech-savy, agile and flexible. The same should be true with the principals.
The pandemic will not end in the next five years so you’re looking at two election cycles under this environment. Time to adopt and adapt if you want to stay relevant. Competent campaign teams led by creative, original, and strategic thinkers are hard to find. There are many snake oil salesmen claiming they know what they are doing when in reality, what they’re selling is all smoke and mirrors and products of pre-social media thinking. It’s going to be a very interesting campaign season and, given the well-resourced machines and formidable personalities that spearhead the incumbent camp, those who aspire to pose even a credible challenge in this race cannot afford to invest in and waste time on mediocre campaign and comms teams staffed by schoolboy “analysts” and led by managers who apply dinosaur-era thinking.
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