Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ricky Carandang Returns to the Blogosphere?

After too long a hiatus (during which time his blog --RICKY CARANDANG Reporting-- was cyber-squatted upon by some lyrical Internetpreneurs)--he who has just been named makes a rare appearance in the local blogging scene with a timely post in which he asks of voters intending to vote in the midterm May elections--

Why would anyone play in a game of poker if they thought it was rigged?

This is in the light of the recent SWS survey result on public trust in the Comelec
The SWS February 2007 survey found that 46% trust the Comelec in general, whereas 28% distrust it, giving Comelec a Net Trust rating of +18. The balance of 24% neither trust nor distrust the Comelec.

For the Comelec, this was an improvement from November 2006, when 39% trusted and 34% distrusted it, for a Net Trust rating of only +6, correctly rounded [Table 4, also Chart 2].

The same SWS survey found that "48% predict cheating in the election for Senators to occur in the counting in some levels, not limited to the precinct alone."

So why would anyone play in a rigged poker game? There are two possible reasons that come to mind:

(1) Perhaps some voters look upon elections metaphorically like a horse race in which they are placing a bet on a candidate with their vote, or buying a Lotto ticket to whatever their pursuit of happiness happens to be directed at. In real life, wagering on games of chance such as horse races and lotteries are among our favorite bad habits, even if it is common knowledge and experience that one loses most of the time. Hope springs eternal in our Gambling Culture.

(2) There is a more cynical type of explanation. About half say they "trust" the Comelec so much that they would participate in the coming elections because that particular half believes the Comelec will favor their chosen candidates or coalitions and teams in the coming election. Or even cheat for them. So what? they reason, anything to keep the other bums out. In other words, some voters are willing to participate in a rigged poker game that is rigged in their favor!

But what of the half that distrust the Comelec and are sure there will be some level of cheating in the count and canvass of the election, yet intend to participate in them by voting? See Number (1) above!

Now I have a technical bone to pick with the pollsters over this Net Trust Rating, an incarnation of the genre of flawed statistical survey question similar to the Net Satisfaction Rating both of which are merely designed to make commerciable and headlineable, a false statistic in which the poll is merely inconclusive.

First notice that 39% and 34% equal 73% which means that 27% of the Nov 2006 respondents neither trusted nor distrusted the Comelec and were undecided. This is comparable to the 24% undecided in Feb 2007.

I think this reveals the subtly fallacious and misleading nature of "Net Trust Rating" or "Net Satisfaction Rating" in which a difference between two raw statistics are taken in order to excluded the undecided and make a meaningless statistic perhaps interesting to the public audiences and markets.

In my opinion, when the percentage of UNDECIDED is greater than the Net Trust Rating or Net Satisfaction Rating, then the real result of the survey data is that the Undecideds actually have it. The Net Statistical Ratings are hocus-pocus because their statistical error is actually equal to plus or minus the percentage of undecideds, who, if they were to decide, can therefore swing the rating into either of the exclusive categories. The only conclusion is that the survey is inconclusive on the statistic it tried to measure: how much the public trusts or distrusts the Comelec.

Indeed, one might think it is the Undecideds that turn out in massive numbers during election day. For that is indeed the day when voters MUST decide, at last!

There seems to be a related thread of thought in the latest SWS Survey report which is about those COMMAND VOTES that Tonypet Albano of Team Unity has been mentioning threateningly or tauntingly in the Media lately.
The SWS survey on electoral reform of February 2007 found 80% saying that most people in their barangay decide their vote for themselves, and only 19% saying that most are just told by the leaders whom to vote for.
I am viscerally suspicious (my b.s. meter goes off scale) whenever I encounter Public Opinion Survey questions like the one used to get the above result. The respondents were actually asked, "Which of the following questions is more applicable to this barangay?" (a) Most people here decide for themselves who to vote for. (80%) OR (b) Most people here are just told by the leaders who to vote for. (19%) Undecided (1%)

MLQ3 sees the empty fifth of the glass in this statistic in that perhaps 19% of barangays are dominated by a Command Vote situation in which local leaders dictate who gets "most" of the votes. Of course "most of the people" can mean anything between 51% and 100% of the voters are part of the command vote.

Now, even the strong four-fifths majority who think that "most" of the voters in their barangay (51% to 100%) choose candidates for themselves and are not commanded by local leaders are actually estimating that anything between 0% and 49% of the voters are part of the command vote.

This is a very flawed question which I think does not measure the level of the command vote at all, but only the degree of politeness and overwhelming faith professed by Filipinos in each other as voters and respondents of public opinion polls.

I think there is one neglected aspect of the whole Command Vote Question. It is the question that asks WHO actually controls those local Commanders of the Voters. I think the Team Unity spokesman Tonypet Albano seeks to paint a picture of local leaders being completely at the administration's command and control.

I am prepared to accept that in our archipelagic barangays, local leaders have an inordinate amount of influence compared to cultures and civiliations and nations where the citizens are perhaps more individualistic and independent of each other. But most such leaders are hopefully not such a puppets or dependents, and indeed are sure to have interests opposing and conforming to various contending political alliances.

1 comment:

engineerOFW said...

This phenomenon -- that voters will still troop to the polls -- should serve notice that Filipinos are quite sophisticated and they know the meaning of "...did not materially affect the results of the elections".

Those who remember Comelec-automation-project will likely say "..do not trust Comelec". And many who have read deQuiros and RinaJimenez will know, because it is true, that goons and vote-buying happens "..baranggay next town//next province// in Mindanao" and that cheating occurs at some level.

But eventually, people go to the polls because they believe, firstly, that their vote gets counted and secondly, that the cheating that happens "..not materially affect the outcome of the elections".