This presidential election will be won by the political machinery that ensured the win of former president Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010. Grassroots mobilization is the key to the win of Vice president Leni Robredo.
Let us analyze the situation. Why do I believe that this will be a hotly contested and close fight between Robredo and the camp of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Junior? Moreover, in the end, it is Robredo winning by a squeak, a million more votes.
First, let us look at their existing voter bases at the national level. Obviously, among the ten presidential candidates, only four of them, namely Marcos Junior, Robredo, Lacson, Pacquiao, and Moreno, registered more than 10 million votes in national elections.
|Candidate||Senatorial run||Vice president||President|
|Leni Robredo||14 million|
|Ferdinand “BBM” Marcos Junior||13million (2010)||14 million|
|Panfilo “Ping” Lacson||10.5M (2001)
|Manny Pacquiao Jr||16million (2016)|
|Isko Moreno||11.1 million (2016)|
There is only Panfilo Lacson who had a record in a presidential election. In 2004, Lacson ran for president and lost to Arroyo by a mile. He got only 3.5 million votes. However, Lacson got 17 million votes as a senatorial candidate in 2016—the highest votes so far in his political career, a million more votes than Pacquiao’s at 16 Million.
Like Robredo, Isko Moreno also ran and lost his national campaign for the senatorial post in 2016, with only 11.1 million.
In the table above, Pacquiao Junior has the highest voter reach among the candidates with 16 million votes, followed by Robredo at 14 Million, BBM at 13 Million, Moreno at 11M, and Lacson 10.5Million. However, Pacquiao’s Junior’s numbers are his numbers as one of twelve choices at the senatorial level, so it is pretty hard to determine what his actual voter base is; the same goes with Moreno. What is clear among these candidates is that of Lacson, who generated only 3.5 Million in his 2004 run as presidentiable.
Assuming arguendo that Pacquiao’s 16 Million is already fractured due to his present row with the PDP-Laban faction of Cusi-Matibag, this may translate into a possible loss of between 2-3 million votes, making Pacquiao’s existing voter base at 11-13million.
Determining the voter bases of Robredo and Marcos is easy—both stay at 14 million each after their vice presidential contest that saw Robredo squeaking a win over Marcos by just 200,000 plus votes. Isko Moreno, on the other hand, may see his voter base Increase by 1-2 million due to his continuous public exposure for the past six years and the highly public support given to him by Duterte’s groups.
The Commission on Elections pegged the total voter population at 66.5 million. Poll analysts presume that the actual voter turnout would reach between 75 and 80% this May 9 elections. Let us peg it at 80%. That accounts for 53,520,000 votes. Applying this to our candidates, we find their actual percentage voter turnout shares at the following:
|Actual Voter Turnout||53,520,000||%|
Now, let us presume that the surveys are correct and predictive; we determine the real actual numbers of percentage shares in terms of preference for the presidency, again, using as our base 53.52 million.
|Candidate||Pulse Asia Survey March 2022||Actual Vote|
What is wrong with the numbers? There has never been a candidate running for the presidency that went past 45% of the percentage share of the actual voter turnout. First, it takes many logistics for one to mobilize 32 million voters from their homes to the precincts to secure a win. Logistics costs money. Moreover, second, it entails a considerable number of people to herd and secures these votes come election time. For one to fully reach a voter percentage of fifty percent (50%), one must secure coverage of sixty to seventy percent (70%) of all precincts, which stands at 110,000 precincts. Furthermore, sustaining such a massive army of volunteers entails costs at real prices.
Elections to be won at a grassroots level
COMELEC records show that the highest percentage ever recorded that a presidential bet achieved was Benigno S. Aquino III, with 42.08% of the votes or 15,208,678. Former president Joseph Estrada claims second best at 39.86% or 10,722,295 votes out of 29Million plus voters who turned out for the elections. Contrary to claims, Duterte’s 39.02% share of votes in 2016 is just the third best.
When Aquino won, 74.34% of 51,317,073 voters went to the polls to vote, or 38,149,371. When Davao mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte ran for the presidency, he got 16,601,997 votes or 39.02% of the vote, with a voter turnout of 80.69%. There is a yarn being peddled that Duterte got more votes than Aquino. Of course, dumb ass, the total voter population in 2016 is higher than in 2010 at 55,739,911.
The only post-Marcos regime candidate who almost went past 50% of the votes was when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Lakas NUCD-UMDP ran for the vice presidency, getting 49.56% 12,667,252 of the votes. When Gloria ran in 2004 for the presidency, she still got a good share of 39.99% of the votes, or 12,905,808. Arroyo won despite having a very formidable opposition candidate in the person of famous actor Fernando Poe Junior who ran under the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino with 11,782,232 or 36.51% of the vote.
If we are to account for the historical shares of votes during presidential elections in a post-Marcos regime era, it is safe to say that shares of the winning candidate hover between 39% to 42% only. Assuming that the actual voter turnout gets to 53,520 million in these upcoming elections, the real numbers show how many votes a candidate needs to take the presidency: 20,872,800 at 39% or 42% at 22,478,400. Way past this, and you will need more than 10 billion pesos to finance such a piece of well-oiled campaign machinery.
Presuming that our numbers are correct, it is possible for BBM at this time to garner at least 30-40% of the votes for the presidency, that, in absolute numbers, between 20-21 million. Are 20 million votes safe to seal victory at the presidential polls? No.
In a highly fractured election such as the one, we face today, the chances of Robredo also getting 20 million votes is a possibility not to be discounted. Assuming that at this point, Robredo’s 15% preferential ratings at the survey only amount to 8Million, the fact is, this is nowhere around the 14 million voter base we presume that Robredo got in her vice-presidential run.
Calculating the possible number of voters that would vote for Robredo, we assume that her numbers stand between 15-25%–a figure derived from the various presidential surveys conducted by Pulse Asia, Social Weather Stations (SWS), Laylo Research, and OCTA.
|actual voter turnout||53,520,000|
Notice that the numbers are nowhere near the 14 million votes that Robredo garnered during her vice-presidential win in 2016. This means that survey ratings do not really reflect the realities at the time of the polls.
Do endorsements matter?
The Nacionalista Party of former Senate president Manny Villar had already announced party backing of the presidential candidacy of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Junior. So, we now have three (3) political titans behind the BBM candidacy: Arroyo’s Lakas, Villar’s Nacionalista and Erap Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino/UNA. A fraction of FPJ’s forces, Cagsawan’s FPJPM has also announced their support behind BBM. Since BBM is allied with Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), let us presume that half of the Duterte forces are also supporting BBM.
So, do these endorsements matter? Yes and no. Yes, because that shows you additional ground support come election time. No, because these national parties do not matter in the local ground war.
The ground war happening at the local government levels seems hotly and tightly contested. In every national and local election, candidates mind their candidacies. Yes, they would carry a national candidate in their posters and sample ballots, yet it is different when it comes to D-Day—the day of the elections. Local candidates only carry a particular national candidate for two (2) reasons: one, if the national candidate is popular, it is well within the interest of the local candidate to use him or her in his/her campaign. Second, if the hold or grip of the national party is so strong in a particular locality, the candidate does not have any choice but to abide by the party’s wishes. Again, following party lines entails costs. Most, if not all, candidates at the local levels only and actively campaign for their national party’s bets if the party gives them campaign funds or, at best, allow their national campaigners to support the local bets’ candidacies.
What matters behind any political endorsement is its quality. Several factors to account for: first, the political capital of the endorser. Second, is the endorser still relevant in the current political scene? Third, is the endorser putting his resources and monies behind the endorsed? Lastly, does the endorser lend his own grassroots campaign machinery for his endorsed candidate?
Arroyo-Villar-Estrada-Duterte vs. Roxas-Aquino’s endorsements
Among the political titans who support BBM, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is identified by analysts as the one that matters. Arroyo seemed to have successfully staged a political comeback. When she became speaker of the House, her political allies also gained their political resurrections. Will Arroyo’s substantial political clout matter for BBM?
Villar has been away for so long in politics that the only thing that matters to him is to further prop up his son Mark’s candidacy as a senator. Mark Villar is registering only between the fourth to sixth slots, which is too far from his mother’s performance, Cynthia Villar, who got the first slot among the lucky senatorial. Villar made a masterstroke move when he put his dollar behind BBM. The billionaire tycoon might have seen BBM’s vaunted electoral machinery and thought supporting BBM would seal the first senatorial slot for his son.
The same goes for the Estrada camp. Jinggoy Estrada lost terribly at the senatorial polls. The same goes to JV Ejercito. For the Estrada’s to secure their political slots, they need the perceived hefty electoral machinery of BBM and that of Sara’s. So, the Estrada factor is not at all substantive. Estrada gains more from BBM in terms of this election.
Will a Duterte endorsement matter to BBM? No. Duterte’s endorsement is far too small even to dent BBM’s. Duterte won the 2016 elections because of the following: first, active grassroots organizations particularly those of the organized Left and some groups allied with military figures, supported him. Such a vast political force does not exist anymore. Second, the administration vote, or what we call the “Liberal Democratic” vote was split between Roxas, the official administration bet, and Grace Poe. If we are to combine their respective votes or presume that half of Poe’s went to Roxas, the Liberal technocrat may have won the 2016 elections.
Lastly, the Duterte political machinery is no more. Do you really believe that PDP-Laban’s political force sealed Duterte’s victory? No. Duterte won piggybacking on the machinery of Lakas-NUCD, Kamppi, Nacionalista, Nationalist People’s Coalition, and some segments of UNA of Vice president Jejomar Binay who jumped ship in April, several weeks before the elections.
The fact is, Duterte already lost this large political force during the 2019 elections– upon the undoing of his daughter, Sara Duterte. In an effort to create a solid Duterte political base, Sara Duterte did the unthinkable by creating her own political party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago. Such a maverick political move led to the fracture that caused the diminution of the PDP-Laban and the destruction of the entire Duterte force. Kilusan ng Pagbabago, who is the movement behind Duterte’s poll success, was effectively neutralized by the Go’s faction composed of veteral politicians, technocrats, and ex-military men with checkered records.
In the 2019 polls, Duterte endorsed his presidential assistant and his close friend, Christopher Go, who managed only to get the fourth slot among the twelve lucky senatorial despite his massive electoral chest. Same goes to former PNP chief and now Senator Bato dela Rosa. His other fanatics, mainly Mocha Uson, lost their respective candidacies. Duterte’s endorsement is not as strong as Fidel Ramos (FVR’s) or even Benigno S. Aquino’s.
When Arroyo endorsed Villar in 2010, Villar got 15% of the votes. Officially, Gloria also supported Gibo Teodoro, but her defense secretary did not even register double digits. Her endorsements of several other national candidates also failed miserably at the polls.
Will the perceived support of Mar Roxas and the Aquino family matter to Robredo? Yes. Roxas has a political network that jibes with that of the Aquinos. Remember that his same machinery defeated the heavily funded Villar presidential campaign in 2010 by a mile. Despite Villar reportedly spending more than 2 billion pesos for his campaign, Villar lost to Aquino. Pnoy won 43% of the votes or 15 million by a mile. Meanwhile, Roxas’ endorsement is a good and extra 2-3 million votes.
Pnoy formula to seal Robredo’s victory
So, we now have the following possible outcomes for this election, accounting for the endorsements.
|Candidate||Calculated Voter base||Possible Increase due to endorsements and national||Possible vote count come May 9, 2022|
|Robredo||14M||Pnoy—good for 2-3million votes more
Roxas—good for 2-3 million votes more
Church and civil society groups: good for 1-3 million
|BBM||14M||Arroyo—good for 2-3 million votes
Villar—good for 1 million
Estrada—good for 1-2 million
DDS—good for 500,000
|Moreno||13M||Aksyon—good for 1-2 million
Duterte faction: good for 1 million
|Pacquiao||13M||Mindanao based votes: good for 500,000 at least||13.5million|
|Lacson||10M||Lost Reporma||8-9million at best|
The presidential elections will be won thru the ground war. Whoever most local bets carry in their respective campaigns will win the presidency. Funds flow will be crucial. However, the most significant factor that will seal a victory will be the number of actual volunteers who will convince their friends or their entire barangays to go to the polls and vote for their preferred candidates.
The success of any ground war depends on air superiority. Increased momentum is critical. A developing perception that a particular candidate is gaining ground fast will solidify the voter base and may increase defections from other parties. In the end, whoever gets 39-42% of the number of actual voters in this election, wins the presidency. Therefore, it is now a race to 20million.
For a Duterte backed candidate to win, Duterte forces must work triple times more than they did in 2016. For the Robredo camp, consolidation of forces that worked for Pnoy’s victory in 2010 is vital for the win. Moreno, on the other hand, stands to lose in these elections. However, Moreno must keep himself in the game to prevent a BBM landslide. In my previous blog, Moreno is the anointed monkey wrench in this election. Voters who neither will side naturally with Robredo or BBM will go to Moreno’s.
Meanwhile, if Pacquiao stays in the game, he will lose, considering that the machinery that sealed his senatorial win does not exist anymore. As for Lacson, his numbers are expected to stay as it is. Lacson may be the ideal presidential candidate for our times, yet reality says otherwise.
Question: Is it possible for a presidential candidate to go past 50% share of votes?
The very structure of our politics deters the majority distribution of shares of actual votes cast to one candidate. For one, our multi-party system contributes to this possibility. With more than two (2) political parties placing their bets for these national posts, specifically for the presidency, it is statistically improbable for a candidate to get majority shares of votes. The more candidates, the lesser percentage of votes a dominant political player gets.
Furthermore, shares of votes depend much on the logistical machinery of the candidate. Imagine mobilizing between 20 million to 25 million voters to their precincts at current prices come election time. That entails a vast supply chain management problem. Moreover, everybody knows what happens in a national campaign—during local polls, most allied political forces at the local levels rarely even promote their federal candidates. Most local elections, particularly those running for the mayoral or council members’ posts, spend on their candidacies first before putting their monies to winning their favored national candidates.
Local political forces often disregard campaigning for their national posts, which entails tremendous costs. To assure a turnout of 20 million votes, you need to create thousands of poll volunteers who will probably both serve as voter herders and poll watchers. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez reveals that the poll body wants to increase the number of precincts from 100 to 102,000. Just think of spending for the needs of just half of these precincts, at 50,000 poll watchers, plus paralegals and others, that already amounts to more than 100,000,000 pesos.