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Polling firms deny ‘massaging’ poll survey results

/ 10:57 AM May 11, 2013

Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Polling firms Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia denied claims by reelectionist Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that “one of the Big Two polling firms” was “massaging” survey results “to benefit paying candidates,” and challenged the senator to identify the alleged operator who approached him.

“SWS never engages in any practice damaging to its integrity. It challenges Senator Trillanes to expose whoever attempted in 2007 to swindle him for payment for the locations of SWS sample spots,” SWS said in a statement on Friday.

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In a separate statement, Pulse Asia yesterday said: “Inasmuch as his statement, if precisely reported by the news article, casts doubt on the reputation and integrity of our firm, it is only proper and fitting that Senator Trillanes identify the person who allegedly approached him or his staff to ‘offer the service.’”

Operator’s offer

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On May 6, Trillanes told a press conference that an “operator” from a major survey firm had told his staff that they could obtain advance information on the location and date of the conduct of a survey, “apparently to allow us to massage or cook the results.” But he added that he was not sure which of the two survey firms relayed the message.

The senator was referring to the country’s most cited preelection pollsters, Pulse Asia and SWS.

In its last preelection survey conducted from May 2 to May 4, 2007, the SWS predicted Ralph Recto to land in seventh place, while it ranked Trillanes at 15th to 16th places.

On the other hand, Pulse Asia’s last preelection survey, conducted from April 21 to April 25, 2007, also predicted Recto to make it to the winners’ circle at ninth place and placed Trillanes at 16th to 21st places.

Trillanes finished No. 11 in the final official count, while Recto ranked 14. Recto ran again in 2010 and finished eighth.

In their statements, both SWS and Pulse Asia reiterated their use of fresh random sample spots every survey round.

“Pulse Asia takes every effort to ensure the integrity of its processes. Each survey round has a different set of 360 randomly selected sample spots (barangay or precincts). In addition, a spot is replaced by another randomly selected spot in the event of unusual political activity in the barangay immediately preceding or during the visit,” Pulse Asia added.

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‘Glaring error’

“Every SWS survey uses a fresh random sample of barangays or precincts. The locations of its sample spots and the timing of the survey are kept secret prior to fieldwork, precisely to prevent political operators from conducting ‘special campaign operations’ there,” SWS said.

Responding to Trillanes’ claim that the two polling firms committed a “glaring error” in 2007 when they failed to put him in the final 12, SWS said that he “apparently failed to read the May 10, 2007, SWS media release that pointed to his acceleration in the final preelection survey, and thus to his capability of catching up and make it to the final 12.”

In its May 2007 report, SWS said: “The gain of Trillanes by 10 points between mid-April and early May, moving him from 21st to tied-15th in the process, is very noteworthy since it shows that it is not impossible to make up a large deficit within a short period of time.”

Pulse Asia said: “As for Senator Trillanes’ reference to his not making it to the Top 12 preferred candidates in our last preelection poll in 2007, the Genuine Opposition (GO) team had yet to visit then candidate Trillanes in his detention cell at the time of our April 21-25, 2007, survey. This visit by the entire GO slate helped boost voter support for him, a development that Pulse Asia captured in the ABS-CBN exit poll, where he landed 10th position. Unfortunately, the senator failed to consider the exit poll.”

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TAGS: 2013 elections, election surveys, Pulse Asia, Social Weather Stations, SWS
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