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VOTERS SWAYED BY PAID ADVERTISEMENTS

By Pedro Laylo Jr.

The candidates’ exposure and image explain why the February results from the Manila Standard survey are almost unchanged from January.

As one monitors the progress of the campaign it is critical to observe how the voting public receives and reacts to the various campaign stimulus created in the process.

Every candidate’s objective is to ensure that they have decent levels of public awareness; that they project a positive image; that they are able to reach the voters; and that they end up being the voter’s choice.

This concept refers to the “Awareness-Image-Vote-decision” continuum and the February 2010 Standard poll monitored this aspect of the Filipino voting public’s decision-making.

Past electoral research shows that candidates whom voters are most aware of, are most trusted, had enough exposure through advertisements, and had personal encounters with voters, eventually wind up getting elected.

In the February 2010 Standard poll, the leading candidates – Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and Senator Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. – showed the same high levels of awareness of news about them, they had identical trust levels, and voters received about the same intensity of media exposure on them, thus explaining the virtual tie.

Earned media refers to candidates’ exposure due to what voters see, hear or read about them in the various media types. In the February 2010 Standard poll, voters were asked if they were aware of any news about the different presidential candidates in the past week.

A very significant majority are aware of news about Villar (84 percent) and Aquino (81 percent).  A good majority have seen or heard news about Estrada (71 percent) and Teodoro (60 percent).  The other Presidentiables garner less than 50 percent media news exposure.

Of those aware of news about each of the Presidentiables, the respective vote shares of the top four candidates become: 36 percent for Aquino; 33 percent for Villar; 16 percent for Estrada; 8 percent for Teodoro.

The candidates who lead in the race tend to be highly trusted. The February Standard poll results show Aquino and Villar enjoying high levels of trust compared to the other candidates.  About seven in ten had much trust in Aquino and Villar; two in five trusted Estrada; one in three trusted Teodoro.

Among those who say they have much trust in Aquino, close to half vote for him. Of the ones who say they have much trust in Villar, a plurality vote for him.  Of those who trusted Estrada, over a third chose him. Among those with much trust in Teodoro, about a fifth preferred him.

Paid media refers to candidates’ paid advertisements on television, over the radio, in newspapers and through  posters or billboards.  Voters were asked if they definitely watched, listened to, or read an advertisement or commercial or saw any billboards or posters of the presidential candidates.

Voters had a high level of exposure on TV ads of Villar (81 percent) and Aquino (79 percent).  Estrada and Teodoro register decent levels of exposure at 67 percent and 57 percent, respectively.  Senator Richard Gordon, evangelist Eddie Villanueva and Senator Jamby Madrigal managed to have some exposure as well. The rest had very little media coverage.

Assessing vote conversions among those who have been exposed to ads and commercials of candidates in different forms of media, Aquino gained the most among those who heard his radio ads, read about it in newspapers and saw his billboards and posters.  Villar and Estrada benefitted the most from personal visits they made. Teodoro got additional votes among those who read his newspaper ads.

Those who saw the political advertisements of candidates were also asked whether, on the overall, they liked or disliked what they watched.  Very many liked Villar’s (83 percent) and Aquino’s (82 percent) ads. Decent majorities liked the ads of Estrada, Teodoro, Gordon and Villanueva.

Voting conversion rates among those who liked the ads of specific candidates reveal that all of them benefit from it, especially Estrada who gets 10 more points to his vote share among those who saw his ads.

Not very many voters have personally seen or heard about visits of the presidential candidates. But among those who say they had a chance to see or hear about their visit in their place, Estrada and Villar gained the most.

Currently, voters rely heavily on TV commercials and advertisements as well as news about candidates aired on TV. Only about a third found it important that they heard stories of personal visits in their place of residence and about a fourth liked to see candidates participate in discussions and debates. A fifth liked hearing stories about them in newspapers and listening to their radio ads.  Slightly more looked more at billboards and posters of candidates and a few more would like to see sample ballots.

About one in four was able to watch a presidential debate or forum nationwide. Incidences were higher in Metro Manila and in North and Central Luzon, and among the upper and middle classes. Of those who were able to watch those debates, Teodoro was well liked, closely followed by Villar and then Aquino. By economic class, there were more among the rich and middle classes who were impressed by Teodoro followed by Aquino. Among the poor, Teodoro and Villar stood out while among the destitute, Villar was liked the most.

Tables Voters swayed by paid advertisements 0210-RP

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