By JOHN TRIA
We have passed the midpoint of this hot campaign, where most voters have heard all sides, and have made up their minds on at least their first eight senators.
With this, the recent SWS surveys reveal a disturbing trend for the opposition. Its best candidates are hanging by a thread, while the object of their discontent, the administration, has soared to match their best trust and satisfaction ratings.
This tells us that despite massive exposure on mainstream and social media, including the alleged “clipping” of pro-Duterte social media capability, opposition messaging over the last two months has not connected with the mass of voters it needs to win over.
Perhaps they were over-exposed and people just did not buy them and their negative message. The plight of the very vocal Gary Alejano and Florin Hilbay is a case in point. They languish in low survey ratings.
As the campaign winds up, it is now a ground war, a counting of warm bodies and grassroots hardliners for votes. How many the opppsition can command is anyones guess, given their decimated ranks and lack of local support.
The administration gatherings proudly show drone shots of large crowds and selfie-seeking fans while the opposition cannot seem to show the same. This may prove disturbing to the large group of voters in the Greater Manila area that often votes for perceived victors.
Thus, barring a miracle for the opposition, it seems the administration coalition has locked this in tight.
The surveys reflect a strengthened support base which has stood by the administration despite all the intrigues and brickbats that has flooded media and is deemed common in election campaigns. This renewed loyalty has extended to its candidates. Note how Cynthia Villar dislodged Grace Poe in a recent survey, and how Bong Go, Bato de la Rosa, and Francis Tolentino have soared.
For many, the opposition sounds like politics as usual — much talk with little proof of delivery given their past hold on power, a credibility gap that was never closed.
Worse, they fell into traps such as arguing with Davao Mayor Sara Duterte and calling the back tattoo bluff. Even more disastrous to them is the news of in fighting in the light of survey results they hoped would improve given their sustained negative campaign.
Hoping that these could tip the electorate in their favor, they pushed this negative message hard.
Thus, when surveys arrived, the surprise came — these just did not deliver the improved results for their candidates in that critical midterm of the campaign when a bigger number of voters made up their mind, having heard their message.
People have tuned away from their complicated d message, no matter how compelling it may sound to many in their circle of friends.
Another shift in strategy may no longer work, as these may only muddle their already mangled message further.
What the surveys also reveal is that the brickbats they have thrown seem to mean little to the mass of voters who care about jobs, income and a more comfortable life they feel is slowly achieved.
What is worse for them is that the surveys tell us that these images have built stronger loyalty for the Duterte administration.
In my own discussions with people on the street, i have begun to discover a disturbing trend for those opposing the President — a deepened loyalty to him and his government.
The negativity may have hardened their once fickle and measured admiration and turned it into support. This is reflected in the rise in surveys and the jump of the surveys ratings of his most ardent supporters running for the Senate.
In Mindanao, it is an all-time high at 92 in the SWS Survey, with similar rises in all areas and demographics compared to similar SWS surveys taken before the campaign period began.
With major legislative accomplishments such as universal health care and free education, and improved infrastructure, they feel the “malasakit” of government they hoped the previous regime could have delivered.
We keep our ears on the ground.
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