As if to challenge pre-election polls, presidential candidates lagging in surveys have somehow asserted their winnability with the staging of mammoth rallies.
At the homestretch of the election campaign season—with less than two weeks to go before the May 9 polls—what social scientists call “anecdotal evidence,” such as personal observations and shared experiences, seem to have become a strategy for downplaying the otherwise, more scientific pre-election surveys.
Anecdotal evidence, as opposed to scientific evidence, cannot be verified independently. It cannot generalize outcomes the way one can generalize survey results.
Still, in the age of social media, what is visually impressive can come across as convincing.
Street-wide swathes of pink-clad supporters greeted TV viewers and actual onlookers at the 57th birthday celebration-cum-rally of Vice-President Leni Robredo. Event organizers pegged the crowd along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City at 412,000 last April 23.
The Pasay City rally filled the two-kilometer stretch of Macapagal Avenue and was the biggest political assembly yet for the vice president since the start of her presidential campaign.
Robredo, the leading opposition presidential candidate against election survey frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., has buttressed her image of widening mass support with hundred-thousand crowds that characterize her rallies in Metro Manila, Laguna, Pampanga, Bohol, and other provinces.
Aksyon Demokratiko presidential bet Isko Moreno has likewise adopted the staging of big rallies.
A Philippine News Agency (PNA) report said Moreno’s camp organized on the second week of April the “Isigaw mo Isko” concert rally in the Ermita district of Manila with some 80,000 people in attendance.
Back-to-back “Isko” concert rallies with a 35,000-strong crowd were also held in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Shrine, and the Toledo City Sports Concert, the PNA said.
Also in April, presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson and vice-presidential running mate Vicente “Tito” Sotto III held their own big rally at Quezon Memorial Circle with 60,000 supporters in attendance. It was a deviation from the usual town hall meetings the tandem used in their campaign sorties.
POLITICAL BIG GUNS
Having clinched the big crowds, presidential candidates court the support and influence of powerful political parties, local government officials, and celebrities.
The Robredo caravan is rich in human rights lawyers, civil society groups, actors, actresses, singers, and artists from ABS-CBN, the theater world, movies, and the literary community.
Robredo has been publicly endorsed by Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez, Laguna 3rd District Rep. Sol Aragones, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno, to name a few.
Meanwhile, in Cebu, the influential One Cebu party led by Gov. Gwen Garcia joined forces with the Tingog party-list of Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and Lakas-CMD president and House Majority Leader Martin G. Romualdez to mount a 300,000-strong rally in support of Marcos and vice-presidential running mate Sara Duterte.
Cebu is the country’s number one vote-rich province with around 3.288 million registered voters. The three local officials pledged to deliver a landslide victory for Marcos, Duterte, and other UniTeam candidates.
Over in Biñan, Laguna Governor Ramil L. Hernandez officially endorsed Marcos and Duterte before a huge crowd of supporters at the Biñan Football Field.
The campaign rally was spearheaded by Laguna officials led by Deputy Speaker and Laguna Rep. Marlyn “Len” Alonte, Biñan City Mayor Arman Dimaguila, Vice Mayor Gel Alonte, Gov. Hernandez, Vice Gov. Karen Agapay, and Rep. Ruth Hernandez, among others.
The Marcos-Duterte tandem was likewise endorsed by Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla.
Other governors who have signified their support for Marcos and Duterte include: Melchor Diclas (Benguet), Dale Corvera (Agusan del Norte), Albert Garcia (Bataan), Roberto Uy (Zamboanga del Norte), Zaldy Villa (Siquijor), Rhodora Cadiao (Antique), Damian Mercado (Southern Leyte), Roel Degamo (Negros Oriental), and Dax Cua (Quirino).
The April 19-21 Publicus Asia survey showed a 57% voter preference for Marcos, with Duterte scoring 59%.
Marcos led Robredo by 36 percentage points, according to Publicus Asia. Robredo registered a 21% voter preference, while Mayor Isko Dumagoso, Sen. Ping Lacson, and Sen. Manny Pacquiao were steady at 6%, 4%, and 2%, respectively.
Voter preference for Marcos climbed to 64% according to the Laylo Research pre-election survey conducted from April 14 to 20. This was a 3% gain from the March survey.
At the same survey, Robredo garnered a 21% voter preference, followed by Isko Domagoso and Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who tied for third place, at 5% each, and Sen. Ping Lacson in fourth place, with 2%.—Psyche Roxas-Mendoza with reports from Rene Acosta, Butch Fernandez/BusinessMirror