Confusing survey results
Based on a survey it conducted in the third quarter of this year, Social Weather Stations (SWS) said 67 percent of Filipinos expressed satisfaction with the performance of President Duterte. Although this rating is considered “good,” it represents an 18-point drop from the last survey on the same issue.
Soon after, Pulse Asia came out with a different finding. Its survey for the same period showed that 80 percent of Filipinos looked favorably at the way the President is running the government.
In apparent reaction to the earlier SWS survey, which also indicated the public’s displeasure with the administration’s brutal campaign against drugs, the President ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to refrain from engaging in anti-drug activities and passed on that task to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Had the results of Pulse Asia’s survey been released earlier than SWS’, it’s possible the PNP will still be at the forefront of the President’s war on drugs. But that is water under the bridge and it would look awkward for the administration to backtrack on its earlier directive.
After presenting a remorseful stance on the SWS findings, the administration perked up on Pulse Asia’s survey. It thanked the public for its continuing trust on its governance. Not surprisingly, the adverse SWS findings were relegated to the background.
So which survey results on President Duterte’s performance are credible and trustworthy? Those of Social Weather Stations (SWS) or Pulse Asia? Or neither one?
Except for the excuse given about the difference in methodology or style in the conduct of surveys, neither research company has publicly come up with a satisfactory explanation on the varying results of their surveys on the same personality and subject matter.
Although the silence may be traced to professional reasons, it has raised questions about the integrity and reliability of the surveys conducted by two of the most prominent research companies in the country.
What criteria were observed in the preparation of the survey questions to ensure their objectivity? What rules governed the selection of the respondents in terms of age, geographic location and economic status? Did politics play a role in the collation, analysis and evaluation of the survey results?
Outside of general statements about the way a survey was conducted, the number of respondents and the questions asked, there is really nothing that the public can look at to determine whether the survey results are accurate or were manipulated to serve the interests of whoever commissioned them.
Survey or research companies treat the raw data, methodology and algorithms they use to arrive at the results or conclusions as either confidential or proprietary and therefore not fit for public disclosure.
In other words, the party who commissioned the survey, or the public for whose benefit it was supposedly conducted, simply just have to take the research companies’ word at their face value and believe the survey results as presented.
The difference in survey results about the President’s performance cannot be swept under the rug as an accidental aberration.
Although the conduct of surveys, especially for corporate purposes, is strictly a private business activity, that complexion changes when the subject of the survey is a matter of public interest or could influence public attitude about certain aspects of their daily lives when their results are publicly disclosed.
Going back to my earlier question on which survey results to believe, it depends on the reader’s political persuasion. If he is anti-administration, that of SWS; otherwise, Pulse Asia’s. Another item has been added to the “only in the Philippines” joke.
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