EDITORIAL: Factor in Religious Affiliation and Gender
Unless innovative approaches are introduced, there will come a time when election-related survey results would be treated either with indifference or disdain. Once that happens, poll firm experts will have no one to blame but themselves.
Honest-to goodness opinion polls still count very much but chances are they will only be useful as a tool for planning and management, particularly for social economic, infrastructure, and business purposes. But influencing public perception will be a very challenging task.
Most of the populace now take public sentiment poll results with a grain of suspicion and consequently treat surveys irrelevant in making choices. Not surprisingly, many people believe that human factor influences in no small degree the conduct of surveys particularly when it comes to politics.
Surveys are a must as a practical tool for future actions particularly in adopting effective strategies. It is therefore folly to ignore poll results. On the other hand, the process of gathering data is very susceptible to manipulation. This can be avoided by being more systematic in choosing the field personnel. The need for a more active supervision in pinpointing respondents is highlighted. It is here where vigilance is of prime importance to ensure trustworthiness of the survey outcome.
Survey firms have the patriotic duty to ensure that the poll results do not become very far different from the election results in order to spare the nation from unnecessary anxiety which causes further social divisiveness.
As the situation stands, all survey data enjoy some degree of reliability while suffering at the same time from suspicions precisely due to the absence of certain relevant information, which may be attributable to human factor and biases not so much chargeable to the survey teams but due to absence or limited details.
Along this line, simply separating respondents by economic classes is a very tricky process. It is here where some degree of sophistication becomes a necessity, because simply dividing respondents through economic classes ignores other basic information affecting people, particularly Filipinos. Among such factors that need to be factored in are religious affiliation and gender.
Admittedly ferreting out such details is very tedious and complicated. However, they have become necessary given the fact that the whole nation is also of complex character. In more advanced countries, religious affiliation is innocuous and electorates do not treat religious congregations relevant to making political decisions.
That is not the case in the Philippines especially in the light of contemporary developments, when certain congregations already assert their influence in purely political affairs including seeking juicy positions and contracts in government. As a result, the Catholic congregation which otherwise may be akin to a giant dove has been awakened and is left with no choice but circulate all over the entire archipelago and functionalize nests in every nook and corner.
As to gender, times have changed rapidly because of a growing assertion for gender equality. Factoring in this data would make the survey process more complicated and time consuming. The very complex sociological composition of the nation should make the survey results more reliable and relevant.
Otherwise, time will come when surveys would yield nothing significant in helping mold sociocultural advancement.