MARCH 2016


Start of the ‘silly season’


Guest Editorial
By Rina Jimenez-David

Pundits have called it “the silly season,” the three months or so of the “official” campaign period where candidates—running for various positions from the humblest local office to the highest electoral post in the land—can now openly declare themselves as aspirants for a specific post and conduct campaign sorties.

Of course, the “silly season” began long before this week, what with some candidates campaigning years before. But yesterday marked the day all “horses” left the gate, so to speak, mouths metaphorically foaming and teeth champing at the bit, in a fervid race to the finish line.

In previous electoral exercises, excitement filled the air as the tracking of candidates’ performances and potential for winning began in earnest. This year, analysts say, the outcome is neither clear-cut nor irreversible. While Sen. Grace Poe in most news accounts is said to have “regained” the lead in the race, wresting the No. 1 spot from Vice President Jojo Binay, she is “statistically tied”—meaning she is still on even footing—with the other three front-runners: Binay, former interior secretary Mar Roxas and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. The fifth candidate, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who won just 8 percent of voter ratings in the latest Pulse Asia survey, is deemed too far away from the rest of the pack to pose a threat.

Then again, Philippine elections in the past have been marked by shockers, the latest being the “surprise” victory of Binay against Roxas in the 2010 race for vice president. As basketball pundits love to intone, in any game, especially politics, “the ball is round,” and even the seeming loser could still end up on top.

Peering at tea leaves

If only for keeping up the morale of supporters—especially of the crucial financiers—candidates and political parties minutely scrutinize the results of opinion polls like ancient seers peering at tea leaves.

Every point or glitch in the graph is analyzed and tracked and interpreted, with campaign directors plotting how to translate the views of interview subjects into winning slogans, TV-radio ads, viral social media postings, platform planks and talking points.

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