Set yer teeth to grating

The latest from the Social Weather Stations is likely to set some people’s teeth to grating since it bucks what they’ve been saying about COMELEC credibility being shot to hell.

53% think Comelec will be honest in the 2007 election

Fifty-three percent of the public believe that the Comelec will honestly count the votes in the coming election, whereas 21% believe that they will not, and 25% are undecided about it.

General trust in Comelec: 46%

The SWS February 2007 survey found that 46% trust the Comelec in general, whereas 28% distrust it, giving Comelec a Net Trust rating of +18. The balance of 24% neither trust nor distrust the Comelec.

For the Comelec, this was an improvement from November 2006, when 39% trusted and 34% distrusted it, for a Net Trust rating of only +6, correctly rounded

While not exactly the 100% I was gunning for, these figures show that there is definitely some upward mobility in our numbers.

But, of course, the SWS survey wasn’t all praises for the COMELEC.

It also reported that “two out of every three Filipinos expect the coming elections to be clean and orderly in their precinct, but, at the same time, one out of every two believe that cheating in the election for Senators might occur in the counting of votes at some level.”

According to the survey

65% of voters agreed that the coming elections in their precinct would be clean and orderly, while only 12% disagreed

whereas

one out of two people (48%) predict cheating in the election for Senators to occur in the counting in some levels, not limited to the precinct alone.

To me, this is something of a reflection of conventional wisdom that elections are always cleanest at the precinct level where watchers – and the general public – are present; and that no elections are ever 100% free of attempts at cheating. So, in that sense, these findings are not really surprising. In fact, these findings are pretty encouraging.

The fact that a majority of our people believe that the elections will be orderly shows that, among other things, there is a significant level of confidence in the COMELEC’s competence. Of course, the COMELEC’s most vociferous critics are likely to gloss over this fact and focus only on this:

Lower trust in Comelec in NCR and among the educated

By area, trust is lowest in NCR, at 36%, compared to 52% in Mindanao, 51% in the Visayas, and 43% in Balance Luzon.

The lower the education, the less the distrust in Comelec. Among Filipinos with a college degree or greater, 37% distrust Comelec. Distrust at lower levels is: high school graduates, 33%; elementary graduates, 22%; less than an elementary degree, 20%.

However, stripped of all spin, even these findings are not surprising. The capital of a nation is typically a hotbed for political dissent, so it can be expected that regular citizens in the capital will be more likely to have their opinions shaped by oppositionist thought. Among other things, this can be attributed to the fact that the capital is where the media is loudest and therefore the most utilized by anyone and everyone with an axe to grind against whoever the incumbent may be; thus, the well publicized opinions of the opposition are more likely to drown out all other considerations.

By contrast, outside the capital, people are immeasurably closer to the COMELEC field officials. They are more able to see first-hand how these field officials work with their communities; they know the officials personally and are less likely to believe unsubstantiated rumors and such.

I am uncomfortable, however, with the statement that the “lower the education, the less the distrust in the COMELEC.” While I’m sure the SWS didn’t mean to sound discriminatory, the insinuation that will be floated by anti-COMELEC spinners will be that people who don’t know better are easier to dupe. This, of course, is stupid. I have never held truck with the idea that a formal education is a gauge for one’s ability to comprehend issues and formulate intelligent opinions.

And speaking of opinions, I hope that people take the time to actually read the SWS report and come to their own conclusions about it.

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