Surveys as determinants of the shape of one’s voter base aren’t accurate. Why? Think of it for a minute. What if the candidate does not really have a voter base to begin with? As stated in a previous piece, Isko’s voter base is Manila. Grant him the benefit of the doubt and give him the National Capital Region (NCR) for argument’s sake. Though it is one of the most populous regions in the country, it does not mean each and every voter will go for Isko. The same is true with Manny Pacquiao and Grace Poe. The same was true for Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. But in the end, it’s the electricity in the air which an individual with excellent political gut feel will sense that a candidate will win. This was true with Duterte in 2016.
What then is “chief political analyst” Antonio Contreras touting as the middle ground with Pacquiao, Isko and Poe? In his Manila Times piece “Is a Moreno-Pacquiao (or Pacquiao-Moreno) middle ground rising?”, Contreras insists that President Rodrigo Duterte “may not even have the much-touted political firewall that comes with what used to be projected by his loyal DDS [“Die-hard Duterte Supporters”] as his formidable political base.” Contreras goes on to sneer that “he may not even have the assured protection from his daughter [Davao Mayor Inday Sara Duterte] if she runs for president, as her prevailing numbers indicate she is far from being a done deal despite being a frontrunner.” He goes on…
Her 28-percent preference rating for a presidential run stands in the context of an upper limit of a voter base of people willing to vote for her in any position that is only 37.6 percent. And this pales in comparison to the 53.8 percent voter base of Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso. In fact, Pasig City Mayor Victor “Vico” Sotto, while unqualified to run for president, has a broader voter base at 41.5 percent.
I’ve always opined that an Isko – Grace Poe tandem is viable. But as a winner, that’s another thing altogether. Their combined glass ceiling is low. The same is true with an Isko – Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao pairing. That’s an even lower glass ceiling there unless Filipinos prefer entertainment over governance for the next six years.
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This is where Contreras fails as a “Chief Political Analyst”. He lacks the experience of being a key player in a campaign for national office. Candidates may win in several different ways. Some will pay to win. Look at Win Gatchalian in 2016. Some will make ex-deals for votes. Look at Joel Villanueva in 2016. But most candidates have a voter base by virtue of their provenance. Franklin Drilon is an Ilonggo. Leila De Lima is a Bicolana. And so on and so forth. For a time, there was a Catholic vote. These sorts of thinking do not hold now in the present context. The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) vote is still there which is why it has become a ritual among national candidates to win the backing of the INC. Pacman has a voter base in Vis-Min but it does not mean that they will all vote for him. He’s popular as a boxer first. As a politician is another set of criteria in the public mindset.
At this point, the centrist position has been claimed by the Ping Lacson – Tito Sotto tandem with their confirmation they are running. A prospective Senate slate has been announced. Contreras is still devoid of political pragmatism because he still can’t see that political parties have been reduced to flags of convenience. Duterte will definitely endorse some of the “NPC” (Nationalist People’s Coalition) candidates. They were also on the list floated the other day. After the election is over, there will be coalition-building again which is a euphemism for switching loyalties in order to get funds for projects and getting pet bills passed.
Contreras seems oblivious to what happened to the candidate he endorsed in 2016. Jejomar Binay lost. His bête noire now is Duterte because of his bitterness. Emotions cloud the judgment of a “political analyst”. One should be both pragmatic and objective if one’s credibility as such is to be established. I wonder how many clients have so far engaged Contreras’s firm so far. They would be throwing good money after bad having him on their team as their principal political adviser. He hasn’t even had the experience of travelling throughout the country specially to the remote regions of the archipelago for him to have a feel of voter sentiment in those places. As the cliché goes, marami pang bigas na kakanin.
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