I am not – and will never be – in love with surveys.
Let me count the whys…
To begin with, the number of persons usually being polled is ridiculously miniscule. Even much, much less than the proverbial drop in the bucket. I can’t accept the postulation, no matter how ‘scientific’ as claimed, that the opinions or says-so of a mere 1200 or even 2500 represent those of 50 plus million people.
The science guys behind the exercise may have the good intention but I am afraid that along the way waded in the business guys. And so it has become less of achieving merit than of raking in profits. Employing a few pollsters to survey a few people in a blink of an eye does the trick.
I have never been ‘surveyed’ (reason I don’t believe in surveys, barber Egay teases me) but neither was he ever polled nor the other hangers-on at the barbershop. Not one in our little barangay is telling me he/she has been approached by the number pushers from Pulse Asia, Social Weather Stations or any other survey firm.
George, the “Professor,” tells about this practice of hokey pollsters coming up with answers without actually going out to the field and asking questions. He calls their end-products table surveys.
Years back, there was this survey prior to an election in our little barangay that predicted the defeat of the pretenders to the barangay throne. Turned out the sitting royals were the ones who bit the dust. It also turned out the survey was commissioned by the defeated camp.
If my experience then was an eye-opener, the recent poll that says a better-than-good number of people approve of a decision by the Supremes on a certain issue that has yet to come out left me wide-eyed. Tricycle driver Alex used to vote according to what the surveys say until a week ago their group was summoned to a meeting ostensibly to discuss their concerns. To their surprise, if not chagrin, a barangay official instead talked at length on whom to vote in the coming election with not-so-subtle “or-else” reminders. Afterwards, they were given survey forms to fill up. Hearing about it, the usual voluble Amang, was without words because, really, there is no word to describe the incident. Taxicab barker Buting, however, came up with the two words that got Digong’s presidential gutter run going.
I am sure there are among the hawkers and buyers at the palengke, OTB bettors, weekend streetcorner San Mig gulpers, Sunday church goers and a lot others out there who are not enamoured with surveys. They believe surveys exploit the starstruck and the bandwagon hitchers while at the same time blindsiding them from seeing what they have to see in the candidates which are their qualifications, personal demeanor and track records.
Dissecting a voter preference poll for the presidency, Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao conceded as credible the numbers for NCR but found those for ‘balance of Luzon’… out of whack..’ noting the candidates steep rise and fall ‘without reason’ could mean some ‘clever manipulations’ were done. He also has worrisome reservations about the SWS ‘mobile survey’ which he said is ‘flawed’ and can be massaged to invigorate dull candidates lagging in the rankings.
Sure, the Supremes are against doing away with surveys saying curtailing them would infringe on the freedom of something but the call for some time now is just for the results not to be published days or even weeks before an election for reasons that are obvious even for Buting.
An offshoot of the story ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ is the English proverb ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’ No question there. True everywhere.
Hereabouts, it would be good if present-day paid pipers –aka pollsters – just rid the country of rats. Bad if they lead us blind again in the coming elections. Just as we are coming out of the dismal pit we found ourselves in these past six years.
Photo credits: www.awarewhistler.org