By Artchil B. Fernandez

With a sense of inevitability, the camp of Bongbong Marcos trumpeted during their proclamation rally last week that the election is over except the counting. It appears survey results from reputable polling firms back the claim.

Pulse Asia survey done on Jan 19 to 24, 2022 shows Bongbong Marcos led the race with 60 percent voting preference. A far second was Vice President Leni Robredo with 16 percent and Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao tied in third place with 8 percent each.  Ping Lacson was fourth with 4 percent.

The Social Weather Station (SWS) survey conducted from January 28 to 31, 2022 reveals that Bongbong Marcos is also leading the presidential contest with 50 percent. Still, a distant second was Vice President Leni Robredo with 19 percent and Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao were also tied on the third place with 11 percent each. Ping Lacson remained in the fourth place with 6 percent.

A new survey firm WR Numero composed of young PhDs is doing a weekly tracking of voters’ preferences. In its Jan 2 to 6, 2022 survey, Bongbong Marcos sat at the top among the presidential candidates with 59 percent. Vice President Leni Robredo was in second place with 15 percent.

The surveys of the three polling firms seem to confirm each others’ results. Bongbong Marcos appears to be the runaway winner and is on the track to be the first majority president in the post-EDSA era. Based on the survey trend, is Bongbong Marcos’ victory inevitable?  Is he unstoppable and already has a foot inside Malacañang?

Before tackling the above questions, some words on surveys. Surveys in general and electoral surveys, in particular, are mere snapshots of the moment. The results reflect the sentiments of the public at the time they were taken. Survey results are valid at the moment they were conducted.

The result of WR Numero survey, for example, reveals the public’s presidential preference on Jan 2 to 6, 2022 in the same way the outcome of the Pulse Asia survey shows who the voters want to vote for president if the election was held on Jan 19 to 24, 2022.  The same can be said of the SWS survey conducted last Jan 28 to 31, 2022.

Are survey results done last month remain true or the same today?  One is not sure, or it is unknown unless another survey is done today.

Public mood changes and survey result changes. To have a better appreciation of public sentiments, it is important to track survey results and compare them based on their time frames.

To have a good appreciation of public mood, it is better to compare the results of the three surveys done in the month of January 2022. WR Numero survey done from Jan 2 to 6, 2022 gave Bongbong Marcos a commanding lead with 59 percent. Two weeks later, the sentiment of the voters remains the same as confirmed by the Pulse Asia survey with Bongbong Marcos still ahead with 60 percent on Jan 19 to 24, 2022.

However, a change in public mood was noted by the SWS survey done from Jan 28 to 31, 2022. Bongbong Marcos still led the pack but his numbers went down to 50 percent. The SWS result is supported by the WR Numero survey done from Jan 23 to 27, 2022 which also gave Bongbong Marcos 50 percent, still ahead of his rivals.

The WR Numero survey is significant for it reveals a 9 percent drop in Bongbong Marcos’ number from a high 59 percent at the start of January 2022. The month ended with a significant fall in Bongbong Marcos’s polling number. In the same WR Numero survey at the end of January, Vice President Robredo’s number increased by 4 percent, from 15 percent to 19 percent.

International Development and Security Cooperation (IDSC) commissioned the WR Numero survey right after the controversial Jessica Soho interview which Bongbong Marcos snubbed accusing the multi-awarded journalist as biased. IDSC notes that the huge drop in Bongbong Marcos’s number is “due to the disqualification cases against him following his failure to file for income tax return (ITR) from 1982 to 1985” as well as “his refusal to attend interviews.”

Is a Bongbong Marcos presidency inevitable at this point? It is too early and premature for his camp to bring out the champagne and celebrate. Surveys are snapshots of the moment and are not written in stone. Public sentiment change and is borne out by comparing the survey results from the first week to the last week of January 2022.

True Bongbong Marcos has a significant lead, but it is not insurmountable. Other candidates, particularly second placer Vice President Leni Robredo may have a significant gap to close, but it can be considerably narrowed and even hurdled. This however demands hard work and substantial groundwork on her camp as well as creative and innovative improvement of her messaging.

It is not even fair to write off other candidates like Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson. They can still catch up depending on how they conduct themselves during the campaign. Bongbong Marcos running away from public debates and forum with other candidates may or can hurt his candidacy as the WR Numero survey reveals. The next surveys especially in February and March will be crucial to the candidates.

At this point, the presidency is still a highly contested position, and it is premature for anyone to declare him or herself a winner. Surveys are only true at the time they were taken. They should be taken with a grain of salt. Those who are so sure of themselves might eat dust in the end.