Rappler January SMS poll: Duterte has 'most engaged' followers

Part 1

MANILA, Philippines – Rodrigo Duterte maintained his lead in the January round of the Rappler SMS poll, with 35% of responders saying they will support the controversial Davao mayor.

After Duterte, administration standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II and Vice President Jejomar Binay were very close with 19% and 18%, respectively. Senator Grace Poe came in next with 14%. (See overall results in the graph below)

The SMS poll, which was conducted by Rappler, in partnership with Laylo Research Strategies, is an experiment to find the balance between traditional or statistical polling and new media, including text, social media, and the Web.

It aims to chart – with a larger group of Filipino responders – how preferences change over the next few months as well as what influences those changes until election day. 

Duterte also dominated the first SMS poll, which was conducted in December 2015. 

A total of 54,748 Globe prepaid and postpaid subscribers responded to the January poll conducted from January 15 to January 31, 2016. As in December, responders were asked to answer a series of 10 questions about presidential candidates over SMS.

Unlike the December poll, which did not closely reflect the Philippine voter population, the January SMS survey closely matched the overall registered voter population across the demographic variables that were measured: age, gender, and geographic distribution.

While the Rappler SMS poll responders matched voter demographics, it is still considered a non-probability survey because responders volunteered to either respond or not to the questions. A non-probability survey means results cannot be used to predict the actual outcome of elections in May.

The table below shows the distribution of responders compared to the overall registered voter age distribution.

Table 1: Distribution of responders compared to overall registered voter age distribution

Based on data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the ratio of voters from the National Capital Region (NCR) to total registered voters is only 11%. In the Rappler SMS survey, however, there is a slightly higher ratio of responders from NCR, equivalent to 18%. 

In the same Rappler survey, there are also slightly more women responders (56%) compared to the voter population.

Table 3: Distribution of responders by gender

The Comelec’s published voter registration data do not show income distribution. Compared to typical survey responders, however, the Rappler SMS survey responders skew more toward the upper middle class and the very poor, according to Carijane Laylo, Rappler’s survey consultant.

Class D, the largest socio-economic class, usually comprises up to 60% of typical survey responders. In the Rappler survey, they comprised only 39% of responders.

This demographic group, according to Laylo, makes up the working class: a mix that ranges from professionals to minimum wage earners. “They might be busy, have no time, hence they are the least engaged.”

Preference by age, gender and income

Voter preferences by economic class generally follow the preferences of total responders. (See graph below)

There are slight differences, however, when comparing total preferences to preferences by gender and age. 

Compared to total votes, slightly more male responders (37%) preferred Duterte and slightly more female responders (21%) preferred Roxas.

By age group, among youth poll responders, Duterte leads, followed by Binay then Poe. Among the older responders, Duterte and Roxas have about the same vote share. Middle-aged responders have the same preferences as total responders. 

The 'engaged voter'

The results of the poll are instructive about the level of dedication supporters have for their chosen candidates, Laylo told Rappler.

Explaining their votes, some responders said they prefer Duterte because of his strong stance against criminality. One responder, for instance said, "Ang pipiliin ko a(y) si Duterte para mabawas-bawasan ang mga adik sa atin." (I will choose Duterte so that we will have fewer drug addicts.)

Another responder preferred the Davao mayor because "I want change. Binay, Poe, Roxas (are) the same banana."

One responder who preferred Binay said he is easy to approach (madaling lapitan).

A responder who voted for Poe described her as "hindi marunong magnakaw." (Does not know how to steal.) 

Roxas' supporters, on the other hand, said they are supporting him because they want to continue the Aquino administration's "Daang Matuwid" (straight path) program.

One responder preferred none of the names on the list. "Hindi pa pinanganganak ang iboboto kong presidente. Walang mabuting lider sa Pilipinas lahat sila magaling pag-naupo na sa pwesto kurakot na." (The president I will vote for has not yet been born. The Philippines has no good leader. All of them start out good, but when they are seated, they become corrupt.)

“Duterte clearly has the most number of engaged voters," Laylo said. "They are the more willing to go out of their way to show support. The question, according to her is, "Will this (level of support) snowball as the campaign progresses or will it dwindle?”

Poe has the least number of engaged voters, which means they are not as passionate as the engaged voters of other candidates in declaring their support for her. Incidentally, there are responders who said they preferred Poe, but who also specified who they would vote for if she is disqualified.

Laylo said this is probably because of doubts about her viability as a candidate, given disqualification cases filed against her. How this will affect her numbers as election day nears is the big question mark.

How much of a game-changer will engaged voters be come election day?

“Imagine having a sizeable number of engaged voters and a growing voter support base or having a sizeable number of engaged voters but a dwindling voter support base. That can spell the difference in the tight presidential race we are now witnessing,” Laylo said. 

Rappler has started conducting its February surveys on all 3 platforms starting February 17. They will run until February 29. To those who participated, we thank you and ask you to help spread the word. Choose your candidates wisely and let them know what issues matter to you the most. – with Russell Shepherd and Gemma Bagayaua Mendoza/Rappler.com