Who’s afraid of quick counts and exit polls?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-05-17
Team Unity spokesmen Ace Durano and Tonypet Albano were desperately trying to discredit the media quick counts last Tuesday which showed Opposition Senate candidates dominating their administration counterparts. They were particularly critical of the ABS-CBN Quick Count which showed an 8-2-2 Senate outcome for the Genuine Opposition (GO), Independents (Ind) and the administration’s Team Unity (TU), in that order.

The ABS-CBN NCR (National Capital Region) Exit Poll, which was done in collaboration with Pulse Asia, showed a 9-2-1 outcome for GO, Independents and the administration’s TU, respectively.

The ABS-CBN-Pulse Asia national Exit Poll that was released at 6 p.m. last Tuesday showed the following winners: 1. Loren Legarda 58.5% (GO), 2. Francis Escudero 53.3 % (GO), 3. Manuel Villar 49.8% (GO), 4. Panfilo Lacson 46.4% (GO), 5. Francisco Pangilinan 44.6% (IND), 6. Benigno Aquino III 42.6% (GO), 7. Edgardo Angara 41. 1% (TU), 8. Joker Arroyo 36.8% (TU), 9. Antonio Trillanes IV 35.4% (GO), 10. Jose Miguel Zubiri 34.9% (TU), 11. Gregorio Honasan 34.6% (Ind) and 12. Ralph Recto 34.3% (TU).

Alan Peter Cayetano of GO slid from 7th place in the Quick Count to 13th (31.0%) place in the Exit Poll — demonstrating the impact of the highly anomalous fielding of nuisance candidate Joselito Cayetano. By factoring the margin of error and adding the 7% stray votes, Cayetano will easily rank 8th. The margin of error would allow ranking shifts among those within the 8th to 13th places, namely, Arroyo, Trillanes, Zubiri, Honasan, Recto and Cayetano.

Thus, the ABS-CBN-Pulse Asia Exit Poll indicates three possibilities:

1. 7 GO, 2 Ind and 3 TU — which means Alan Cayetano lands in the top 12, displacing one of the 10th to the 12th placers.

2. 6 GO, 2 Ind and 4 TU — which means Cayetano fails to dislodge Migz Zubiri, Gringo Honasan or Ralph Recto in their 10th, 11th and 12th positions.

3. 7 GO, 1 Ind and 4 TU — which means Honasan is displaced by Cayetano.

A confident Cayetano appeared on ANC last Tuesday, unfazed by the Exit Poll results. His basis for optimism was that he was doing very well even in known administration bailiwicks based on actual Election Returns (ERs).

Tonypet Albano of TU claimed that the ABS-CBN Quick Count sampling was flawed and showed a pattern of trending that favored the Opposition. Although these reports reflected feeds from all points in the country, he alleged that the ABS-CBN Quick Count reflected mostly NCR votes which are known Opposition bailiwicks. Albano also suggested that reports should be sourced equally from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Debunking the administration’s claim that NCR votes represented the predominant sample in the Quick Count, ABS-CBN Research head, Vivian Lin, clarified that their Quick Count came from a nationwide spread of precincts. Furthermore, the suggestion to equalize the inflow of results from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao would produce a gross misrepresentation because Luzon accounts for 65% of national votes.

Durano tried to sell an administration Exit Poll which claimed a victory for 6-8 administration Senate candidates. This TU Exit Poll is challenged by the NAMFREL tally, the Quick Count and the track record of Pulse Asia in producing accurate Exit Polls.

Mercy Abad of TNS Philippines, a partner of Pulse Asia, disclosed that the 2007 Exit Poll is the 5th that she had conducted since Exit Polls came into vogue in the 1990s. All five of these Exit Polls were generally accurate, with a few interchanges in the rankings which the margin of error allows.

The majority of Filipinos will believe the ABS-CBN-Pulse Asia Exit Poll that shows seven GO winners (which assumes that Alan Cayetano will make it). Team Unity’s claimed win of 6-8 Senate seats will simply not be credible to the public. The ABS-CBN-Pulse Asia Exit Poll is consistent with survey results of the two most reliable research organizations — SWS (Social Weather Stations) and Pulse Asia. In fact, the way public dissatisfaction with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) has been consistently registering in SWS and Pulse Asia surveys since 2004 logically segues to the administration debacle in the May 14 Midterm Elections.

In the minds of most Filipinos, TU claims of winning 6-8 Senate seats can only establish what the public had always feared — that a massive cheating operation is in the offing. GMA should neither underestimate the public resentment nor try to frustrate this from finding its expression through the vote. She will be tempting the fates, provoking worse remedies.

The phenomenal 9th place showing of detained officer Trillanes in the ABS-CBN-Pulse Asia Exit Poll clearly validates the people’s willingness to take an extreme route in order to seek relief from the issues against the GMA regime. Now an icon that frontally challenges the integrity and credibility of the present regime, Trillanes outpaced the other highly advertised and high-profile candidates despite the fact that he had not been allowed to go out and campaign.

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