Monday, January 23, 2006

The Pulse Asia Survey on People Power

pinion Pollster PULSE ASIA, INC. asked 1200 people the following question (last October 15-27, 2005): "Which of the following protests or "People Power" rallies that overthrew or tried to overthrow a president did you favor?

Last week the results of that poll were released on the Fifth Anniversary of the Edsa 2 event, which was not celebrated, ocmmemorated or even MENTIONED by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, its principsal beneficiary. The attitudes of Filipinos to the various "People Power" events of the post-Marcos era thus have a poignant relevance to current and future events. Dr. Ana Maria L Tabunda gives the Highlights of Pulse Asia's periodic Ulat ng Bayan (National Report) --
As the country commemorates the January 2001 People Power exercise, survey findings show that a big plurality of Filipinos (42%) did not favor this or any of the other “People Power” rallies that ousted or attempted to oust the country’s president – a sentiment that is most pronounced in the Visayas (50%) and in Mindanao (55%).
Their results were summarized in Table 1 at the Pulse Asia site and reproduced below:

Republic Manila Luzon Visayas Mindanao ABC D E
People Power 1
(Feb. 1986)
Marcos ousted.
36 % 45 % 42 % 34 % 21 % 55 % 35 % 32 %
People Power 2
(Jan. 2001)
Estrada ousted
10 % 17 % 9 % 10 % 6 % 16 % 10 % 8 %
People Power 3
(May, 2001)
GMA not ousted.
8 % 8 % 9 % 6 % 6 % 6 % 8 % 7 %
"Others" 9 % 7 % 8 % 6 % 14 % 7 % 8 % 10 %
Did Not Favor Any
People Power Rally
42 % 35 % 34 % 50 % 55 % 28 % 42 % 46 %
TOTALS 105 % 112 % 102 % 106 % 102 % 112 % 103 % 103 %


This is because this Pulse Asia survey allowed respondents to make MULTIPLE ENTRIES, since indeed, many who participated in Edsa 1 also evidently participated in Edsa 2. But this makes for double counting those favoring the people power rallies to unseat Presidents. I don't like this survey design for that reason.
Pulse Asia described the data in the table above in bold type:

Filipinos did not favor “People Power” exercises."

While this statement is certainly true, the data of Table 1 really supports an even stronger conclusion: When taken one people power event at a time, there was never a MAJORITY of Filipinos "favoring" that event. It is a little misleading in my opinion, for Pulse Asia to add up the percentages the way they did, coming to a conclusion that a "plurality" did not favor the People Power rallies.

I am also wondering about the category "Others" that was included in the list of choices for the respondents. Since the survey question was "Which of the following protests or "People Power" rallies that overthrew or tried to overthrow a president did you favor?" this can only refer to rallies trying to unseat Fidel Ramos, the only President who was not being unseated in People Powers 1, 2 or 3. Logically speaking, there shouldn't have been this category at all, and that these 9% of the respondents already indicated they did not favor People Power 1, 2 or 3 since they did not choose those options. In other words, it seems to me, the data in Table 1 indicates that an ABSOLUTE MAJORITY of51% (42% + 9%) did not favor ANY of the people power rallies as a means of ousting a President.

A QUESTION ABOUT THE SURVEY TARGET POPULATION: I could not tell from the Pulse Asia writeup how they dealt with the following problem. Doing a survey of this kind is perilous. The survey probes how people alive in 2005 feel about three past events in 1986, January, 2001 and May 2001, that are not so long ago they are settled matters of history, nor did the target population experienced them together. If the survey only used respondents who were at least 18 in 1986, that excludes an awful lot of the 80 million alive today (or 40 million of voting age).

POLLING AS A GENRE OF JOURNALISM: People should look at opinion pollsters like Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia as a kind of newspaper that reports on Public Opinion. It's just like the newspapers Business Day or the Wall Street Journal do for Business. Like newspapers, opinion pollsters can be highly professional and scientific in their data collection and other "objective" functions, but editorializing and opinon-making upon their own data is impossible to prevent. In fact, opinion pollsters get into that business, I think, because they want to distill the public's opinion and self-knowledge, much as other forms of Mass Media attempt to do, and be the one to do the telling of it. Opinion Pollsters like Mahar Mangahas and Felipe Miranda are essentially JOURNALISTS. But Opinion Polling, as an unacknowledged branch of the Mass Media, can just as easily practice Journalism as Propaganda, because you see, they have the public and even other journalists at a severe disadvantage because of the highly technical nature of their methodologies. The subtleties of mathematical statistics escape even educated and otherwise intelligent human beings, which explains why statistics is often accused of being the science for proving any proposition whatsoever.

Related Posts:

Public Opinion Polling is a Genre of Journalism

Polling Bleg--Ponnuru's Puzzle

lies in the similarity to their own concept of URBAN LEGAL MASS STRUGGLE." In the ceaseless mythologizing of the people power concept, the Left and its allies in media and academe seem to be idealizing mass revolutionary movements as peaceful and powerful -- yet are not led by ELITES or TRAPOS. Yet the starkest conclusion one draws fromt he survey data -- whether you support "people power rallies" or not, is that they ARE the actions of some small minority -- dare I say elite, among the people. That was certainly the case in Edsa 2, which surprisingly tied Edsa 3 in favor from the public at 10% and 8% plus or minus 3%. Having left themselves out of the First Edsa, they want to coopt People Power for themselves, but only in name.


Rizalist said...

A Warm Welcome Traveler!
What do you think of the characterization of public opinion pollsters as journalists on a special beat?

mlq3 said...


this is like the debate on which portion of the american people actually supported the revolution, the famous division suggested by barbara tuchman being a third for revolt, a third loyal to england, and a third unconcerned.

this then enters the realm of what matters when a few decide to affect the lives of the many? if there is no resistance, then the minority wins; if there is no rejection, what the minority did is ratified, also by default. it's the negative to a positive or something -just as, during edsa 2, what decided the day in the end was that estrada's constituency didn't lift a finger to keep him in office. they tacitly accepted his fall, and only rose up when the principle that you don't kick a man when he's down -which made people turn against him when he went after chavit- was violated through the humiliating manner in which estrada was arrested.

also, the communists you have to remember, missed the bus in 1986, having lost out in various showdowns with opposition groups in 1983-85. the vicious purges that took place within the communist organizations -reaffirmist versus rejectionists- was precisely over how to take stock of the edsa debacle.

in 2001 the communists -or at least some factions thereof- decided they couldn't afford to miss the bus so they provided the warm bodies to keep the streets filled when the bourgeousie went home for breakfast lunch or dinner. but their engulf and devour habits, which led to their alliances falling apart in the 1980s, came back to the fore and they found themselves frozen out of the post Edsa 2 order. their rapid return to supporting Estrada and so on since then has simply put them on the same footing as the other politicians.

and of course you have people like partylist rep. crispin beltran who famously declared the tiananmen square crackdown was a pretty good thing, and admires, like so many communists, the glories of fidel castro's cuba.

what disturbs me now is too many in the opposition, still consider the communists necessary allies; and that even a number of military people are open to an alliance with them. i think what we will learn, sadly, is too many of our young officers think more along the lines of the communists than people in the middle class.

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Bunye picked up this survey to conclude that since the people is now wary of people power it means they want Gloria to stay in Malacanang.

This observation bounces back to Bunye because did he not also say that people should not believe surveys? But of course, Bunye only believes survey results from which they can concoct a positive spin, however remote.

It is actually a waiting game between the soldiers, exemplified by the Magdalo group, and the people, exemplified by the people who came out spontaneously during EDSA-1. The soldiers tell the people: "KAYO MUNA!" And the people say: "KAYO MUNA!" In this waiting game, Gloria wins and stays even beyond 2010.

baycas said...

journalism to a researcher of public opinion
gathers only controversial and news-worthy information;
stir the hearts and minds of men they must
as their numbers they want media to broadcast.

Rizalist said...

MLQ3--Great analogy to the American Revolution. But there is a way of looking at people power most want to ignore. Why don't we just accept that ALL REVOLUTIONS are in fact led and primarily carried out by ELITES -- whether economic, political or ideological. In other words, my quarrel with PEOPLE POWER as modern urban legend is that it is anti-elitist in the way communists idealize a revolution. But even the Philippine revolution of 1896 was carried out by an ilustrado elite. Even America upheld the legality of slavery for centuries on behalf of the elite that declared:"all men are created equal"--the same men who gave imperialism its first shove into the grave and started the global nationalist revolution we are still fighting today.

Now in analysing the various minorities and elites that lead "revolutions" it just so happens that some of those were not patriots but coup plotters and putschists.

To your point MLQ3--I wonder which the Magdalo are TODAY after 3 years in jail to think things over. Are they more like the NPA or the bloggers?

I'm curious too.

WELCOME BAYCAS, first time to have another rhymist here...