Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Binay leads over Roxas with the slimmest of margins: 2%

If the presidential race has a very clear trend, the vice presidential position is a different matter.

As of 10am today, May 11, 2010, the difference between Liberal party vice presidential bet Mar Roxas and PMP-UNO vice presidential bet Jejomar Binay is a mere 813,471 votes with just nearly 30 million votes counted. This represents 80% of actual votes cast (AVC). They are still contending for 7,500,000 votes. Between Roxas and Binay, Binay only edges Roxas by about 2 percentage points--not a very safe margin. That is only about 750,000 votes if the trend continues.

Anything can still happen and the "upset" that some sectors fear, may actually be the other way around. Roxas could "upset" the other camp and if he gets at least 13.5 million votes that will surely spoil the victory party of Binay.

A 13.5 million vote will edge out Binay from the race and clinch for Roxas the victory he claims. Just a difference of half a million for Roxas will give him the victory.

Why is it dangerous for democracy in the Philippines for an Aquino-Binay tandem? I'll write it later in another post.

However, there's a caveat here.

If the trend continues, with Binay getting 40-42% of the votes, then, it would be totally impossible for Roxas to catch up.

What is surprising is this--about 5 million from the 18 million "natural constituency" of Roxas seemed to have shifted their allegiance somewhere. Roxas got 18 million votes in his last senatorial run, a consistent figure. Even if he wins this elections, Roxas should go back to the drawing board and re-assess what went wrong with his campaign. This very close call is alarming, especially since he will be gunning for the top post six years from now.

What were the factors that affected the Roxas campaign?

First, the endorsement of Chiz Escudero. Surveys say Escudero's endorsement counts for 37-38%. With Binay's mass base, and with the inability of Roxas to convert die-hard Escudero fans to his side, this constituency shifted to Binay and allowed the Makati mayor to edge out Roxas from the race.

Lastly, Binay's communication strategy is, I think, a thing which communicators should study in the future. Binay's communication strategy was a national version of a local campaign. Focus was ability and experience, two things which Filipinos want to see from their candidates and consistency in messaging.

Roxas tried to do this but by rehashing his Mr. Palengke image at a time when prices are very high and the black propaganda from the Binay-Escudero camp that Roxas has something to do with the E-VAT implementation, affected his campaign. Danny Gozo is not experienced in crisis management and the Roxas camp failed to recover from this just one punch.

Binay was offering himself as an experienced local executive who knows the problems and possesses some of the solutions.

Roxas continued with his Mr. Palengke image at a time when prices of basic commodities were at an all-time high. The reality on the ground did not jibe with the propaganda of Roxas or what I call " a communication disjunct" or "disjointed messaging". Roxas says he was instrumental in lowering prices of basic commodities when the reality on the ground shows otherwise.

Roxas could have summersaulted a little bit and could have diverted the discussion from "skills and experience" to "integrity". Because he lacked the time and he has an inexperienced political communicator in his team, Roxas failed to raise the bar of discussion and again failed to divert the discussion. He was late in the game. Roxas was late in exploiting the "integrity" issue hurled against Binay. In truth, Binay's communication team is quick on their feet. This was actually a war between a communication team wearing ties with one with their sleeves rolled up. In a political war like this, the victor is simply those willing to go to the trenches.