By: Limuel S. Celebria
Finally, RACI’s third installment of the Biron-Defensor trilogy is out! And the verdict? Biron is winning!
RACI, of course, is Random Access Consultants, Inc., the region’s “go-to” institution when it comes to political surveys. And, according to its latest poll on the gubernatorial race in Iloilo province, 4th district congressman Ferjenel Biron is bound for victory after garnering the favor of 51.7 percent of the respondents voters from the various districts. His opponent, who was earlier leading the race, 3rd District Cong. Arthur Defensor Jr., has faded with only 45.9 points.
The result of the latest survey, conducted March 26 to April 3, 2019, is significant as it affirms the outcome of an earlier survey by Philippine Survey and Research Center, a well-established, national polling firm. In the PSRC survey conducted in Iloilo February 16-21, 2019 Biron scored a nearly identical 52 percentage points while Defensor Jr. tallied even lower with only 38 percent.
It will be recalled that RACI conducted two previous surveys on Iloilo’s premier electoral contest. The first survey was conducted July 25-29, 2018 at a time when candidacies for elective positions remained in the realm of speculation. In that survey, Defensor Jr. tallied a daunting 60.7% voter preference against only 32.2% for Biron.
The second RACI survey was conducted December 8-14, 2019 or about a month and half after Biron and Defensor have filed their respective Certificates of Candidacy for Governor of Iloilo. Survey number 2 showed Biron considerably closing the gap, increasing his tally to 47.2– Biron while Defensor Jr. dropped to 51.5. In the language of pollsters, the result was considered “a statistical tie” since the survey’s margin of error was placed at plus or minus three percent ( =/- 3%).
The third edition of this RACI trilogy showed an almost identical reversal of positions from the 2nd survey result with Biron now holding the lead at 51.7 and Defensor Jr. at 45.7. This cannot be considered a statistical tie, however. And this brings us to the other highly significant factor in this survey: while the previous two surveys had 1,200 respondents with a =/-3% margin of error, the third one had double the scope with 5,030 respondents for a margin of error of only +/-1.4%. It also has a confidence level of 95%. In other words, the survey firm will be willing to bet 100 pesos against your 5 pesos that the result of their survey is on target.
In absolute terms, the survey results also mean that were elections held on the day the survey was taken, Biron would beat Defensor Jr with a winning margin of around 60,000 votes.
The RACI survey showed Biron winning in four of five congressional districts of the province. Defensor got a taste of victory only in his home district.
In the race for Vice Governor, Biron’s running mate, incumbent Vice Governor Christine Garin is also ahead of her opponent with 51.9 points against Barotac Viejo Mayor Beng Tupas who tallied 45.9 percent.
It is not difficult to explain the total reversal of fortunes that occurred between the two protagonists within a span of just nine months or so. The two have been waging an uneven campaign with Biron going full throttle while Defensor Jr. seems to be coasting along for the ride.
Since two years ago, it has been apparent that it was Governor Defensor Sr. who has been pushing his son to occupy the seat he will soon vacate, thus forgetting a dictum he loved to tell media and capitol employees — a government position is not an inheritance. I do recall that in his days in congress (before his two sons, Toto and Nonoy, entered politics) Defensor twice filed a bill that would provide enabling legislation to the anti-political dynasty provision of the Constitution. Of course, the bill never went beyond first base.
Defensor strongly lobbied (if that’s the word) with Iloilo’s congressmen and mayors to crown his son as his successor. Sadly, nobody bought into his program. All the while, Defensor Jr. contented to be simply pushed and peddled around by his father.
The father may have encouraged the son to feel entitled. And that is apparent in his campaign which is focused on the strength of his father’s persona and accomplishments rather than his own, if any. Sadly, the father has built for himself an ivory tower that is difficult to climb, even for his son.
Meanwhile, Biron was seen all over the province, presenting himself and his platform of governance to whoever was willing to listen. And they were many.
Out of experience, Biron knew he is hardly known by Ilonggo voters outside of the fourth district. He packaged and marketed himself like a product, using traditional and social media. And, with the congressmen and the mayors enabling his candidacy, Biron was easily able to bridge the gaps.
After this Holy Week, the campaign period will move on to its final stages until it’s time for the voters to go to the polls on the 2nd Monday of May. At this point, Biron not only has the upper hand but the momentum as well.