Pulse Asia: False accusations, baseless claims vs survey erode PH democracy
MANILA, Philippines — Opinion polling firm Pulse Asia has taken offense to allegations by some camps that its pre-election surveys have been rigged, saying that such allegations do nothing but to deepen polarization in the country and erode an “already extremely feeble democratic order.”
In a statement, Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said that they understand that surveys, like the presidential mock polls they released on Monday, would get different opinions and reactions from various parties.
However, they insist that Pulse Asia has neither been bought, nor its research methods compromised by partisan political activities.
“We understand that survey results will elicit varied opinions. We respect all forms of feedback on our survey results, including fair academic comment on differing methodologies and interpretations of data […] We do take exception, however, to three other baseless assertions that have gained unwarranted traction in some circles and some media,” Holmes said on Tuesday.
“First, that Pulse Asia Research has been bought. Second, that our survey field work has been compromised due to the infiltration of partisan groups. Third, that it is illegal to publish survey results 15 days before election day,” he added.
Holmes further warned that people who outrightly and unfairly dismiss their survey methods only feed the disinformation that currently affects the country.
“Those who make these unfair and unjust criticisms bear the responsibility for their baseless accusations feeding into the spiral of disinformation and malinformation that afflicts our society,” he said.
“These false accusations only further deepen polarization and distrust and contribute to the continuous erosion of an already extremely feeble democratic order.” he claimed.
Holmes mentioned one particular view on their recent surveys — that of statistician Romulo Virola, who made a lengthy post on Facebook last Monday to insist that there is something wrong with Pulse Asia’s methods, adding that Vice President Leni Robredo could win in the presidential elections.
As of Pulse Asia’s survey last April, Robredo still sits second with 23 percent of the respondents picking her, while former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is still the frontrunner with 56 percent of the votes.
According to Holmes, Virola’s claim that Pulse Asia’s survey under-represents the Classes A, B, and C are based on the latter’s use of the Unified Socio-Economic Classification (1SEC), which “was proposed by a study group composed of academics and market research practitioners.”
Holmes stressed that Pulse Asia is using the regular SEC which has five clusters — just like other polling firms — and not the 1SEC which has nine clusters.
“Given this difference, it would be difficult to simply deduce that certain clusters from 1SEC could be classified as A, B, C, D, or E. It is also important to note that the 2017 1SEC cited by Dr. Virola continues to be subject to further validation,” Holmes noted.
He also pointed out that Virola’s claim that the youth are being under-represented is covered by their margin of error.
“Given the sampling method that Pulse Asia employs, probabilistically selected respondents come from various socio-demographic groups. In our reports, however, we note the margin of error for each socio-demographic group (SDG),” Holmes explained.
“This margin of error reflects the variance for the SDG given its share of the total sample of the survey and corrects, to a significant extent, what Dr. Virola finds as an under/over sampling of specific SDGs,” he added.
Pulse Asia has been providing pre-election surveys ever before the filing of certificates of candidacy last October. Since then, the polling firms saw a meteoric rise in Marcos’ numbers — especially after he decided to team up with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The high scores that the tandem have earned have led Robredo supporters to call the polling firm as “False Asia”, turning to data from Google Trends instead, where the Vice President is leading all candidates.
However, several opposition factions have reminded Robredo supporters that Google Trends only takes into account how many positive search entries are being made about the candidate, and not voter preference.
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