Strategic decisions a Senate candidate has to make

"From which tool will the candidate derive the biggest bang for the buck?"


Some of the 62 men and women vying for Senate seats in the May 13 election are very well funded, but most of them—including members of the Otso Diretso, the Liberal Party’s Senatorial slate—are having a difficult time keeping up with campaign expenses. But, well-funded or not, all of the candidates are anxious to get the maximum bang for each campaign buck.

To achieve such a result, the Senatorial candidates and their staff have to make a number of strategic directions as to the concentration of their financial-resources fire. The concentrated fire has been rendered necessary by the demographics, the geographic configuration and cultural characteristics and the comparative efficacies of competing marketing tools.

Youth vs. older members of the electorate. Should the candidate devote his or her resources primarily to wooing young voters—those between the ages of 18 and 35—who compose the largest voting bloc in terms of age? Or should he or she spread her resources more or less evenly between the youth, the middle age groups and the senior-citizens community? A risk is involved in putting most of your electoral eggs in one basket. This is a key strategic decision that the candidate has to make.

The most populous provinces vs. all the provinces. Should the candidate spread his campaign resources as evenly as possible over the nation’s 81 provinces, cities and two autonomous regions, or should he or she concentrate his or her firepower on the provinces and cities with the largest registered-voter populations, such as Cebu, Pangasinan, Iloilo, Cavite and Camarines Sur? This is another key strategic decision that a candidate has to make.

Regional attachments vs. national perspective. Should a candidate take a regionalistic approach to his campaign, directing proportionately more campaign resources toward regions that consider him or her a favorite son or daughter? Examples of this tribalistic attitude could be Mar Roxas vis-à-vis Western Visayas, or Bam Aquino toward the Kapampangan-speaking region or Erin Tañada vis-à-vis Southern Luzon. In this case the campaign strategy would be to favor with proportionately more campaign spending the region or regions with which the candidate experiences feelings of affinity and rapport. These feelings are reinforced by the candidate’s being able to speak the language of the region or regions.

Traditional media solely or traditional media plus social media. A further key strategic decision that a candidate in the 2019 Senate election has to make involves not the question “Who?” but the question “How?” How should the candidate wage his campaign? On what marketing tool should he pour most of his campaign resources?

From which tool will the candidate derive the biggest bang for the buck? Television arguably is by far the best marketing tool that a candidate can avail himself of, giving the voter, as it does, access to both the voice and the face of the candidate. Unfortunately the cost of even a 15-seconder tv commercial is so high as to place this medium beyond the reach of most candidates’ pockets. What share of his or her campaign funds pie should a candidate allocate to radio, which, according to the advertising community, remains the best way to reach the nation’s approximately 43,000 barangays? And what share of the pie should go to the social media, which are the communication phenomena of the 21st century? In making his or her strategic decision in this campaign area, the candidate should seek competent technical advice.

These matters—voter demographics, geographic targeting, regional proclivities and comparative technical efficacies—require strategic decision-making. The quality of the decisions will depend on whether campaign funds will be used efficiently and, ultimately, whether the candidate will end up as one of the Magic 12.

Topics: Rudy Romero , Senate candidate , midterm election
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