The battle is in the communities

"Social media platforms feed us with what we want to see. This likely does not reflect the bigger reality."


“The battle is in the communities, not social media.” This is a line that I often repeat especially to friends who are actively involved in electoral politics. This is primarily borne out of our decades of involvement with women and their communities.

Now, there are interesting data that support this. These numbers should be looked into by those who want to campaign for their candidates for the 2022 elections.

It is obvious that those belonging to the socio-economic classes ABC are the most opinionated and noisiest on politics especially on social media. However, by sheer numbers, those who actually decide elections are those in the D and E classes because according to studies, in the last elections, class D held almost eight (8) out of every ten (10) votes. Combined with class E, they held 9.4 votes. There is no question therefore, that the noise by the minority in social media does not count. The critical targets of all campaigns should be those in the D and E classes.

This is because those in ABC (3,710,625) only made up 6% of voters, those in class D (48,238,125) comprised 78% of voters, and class E (9,895,000), 16%. While there may be some change for the 2022 elections, it is still safe to assume that D and E will remain to be dominant especially with the worsening poverty we are experiencing due to the pandemic.

Not a few still think that being active in social media is enough to help their candidates win. However, the results of the Pulse Asia Research Inc. September 2021 Nationwide Survey on News Sources and Use of the Internet, Social Media, and Instant Messaging Applications are revealing. This survey was done during the period September 6 to 11, 2021.

Consider these: a huge 91 percent of Filipinos get their news from TV, 49 percent from radio, and 48 percent from the internet. Of those who use the internet, 44 percent use Facebook, 10 percent use online news sites, and only 1 perent use Twitter.  Moreover, only those in classes ABC rely mostly on online news (71 percent of the 48 percent).

While 63 percent of Filipinos access the internet, 37 percent do not. 48 percent of class E and 36 percent of class D do not use and access the internet. These are huge numbers especially since they potentially control more than nine (9) of every ten (10) votes. Internet access is lowest in Mindanao (47 percent). This means that 53 percent do not use the internet.

What do these numbers mean? It simply means that social media activism is not enough to win elections. It does not matter if we use our whole day posting and discussing on social media; this simply would not do because we are only mostly dealing with those from classes A, B, and C and neglecting those in D and E who are rarely online.

Because of how social media functions, it is likely that we are only reaching our echo chambers. So, even if our timeline becomes a sea of pink, this does not necessarily mean that those outside of our circles are also turning pink, especially those who are not using the internet – a sizable number of the voting population.

Social media platforms feed us with what we want to see. This likely does not reflect the bigger reality. The real battle is outside of it. We must talk and discuss things with our families, friends, co-workers, and anyone else we come directly in contact with.

Candidates’ machinery should reach the communities where the people are. We need to get the message out and find ways to reach and convince them. They hold the power to decide the results of the elections.  

Because television is still the main source of news for the big majority of voters, we can expect the people to be bombarded with paid advertisements of those with lots of resources. This is already happening. This must be considered especially by candidates who do not have much money. They should find ways to counter these advertisements. Those in the television industry can help by giving exposure to good candidates who cannot pay.  

The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo for instance, should be able to capitalize on her high public satisfaction rating. The Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys in 2019, prior to the pandemic, showed very encouraging numbers especially with regard to those in the D and E classes.  Public satisfaction with VP Leni (June 2019 to Dec. 2019) was 59 percent. The demographics are as follows: those with some elementary education – 63 percent, with some high school education - 65 percent, some vocational/college education – 58 percent; and the lowest was among college graduates – 45 percent.

In terms of geographic location, NCR - 55 percent, balance of Luzon - 57 percent, Visayas - 67 percent, and Mindanao – 61 percent. Urban – 55 percent and rural – 63 percent; and in terms of socio-economic classes, ABC – 50 percent, D - 59 percent, and E, 65 percent. There is potential here if the Robredo camp will seriously focus on classes D and E.

Of all the presidential candidates, Robredo enjoys the most support from organized communities. Campaigning for the VP should be their focus because they have the reach. These organizations may be Robredo’s assets especially at this time when we are still in a pandemic.

Focusing on classes D and E in the campaign is the smart thing to do. The battle is in the communities.

@bethangsioco on Twitter; Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook

Topics: social media , communities , Pulse Asia Research Inc , Election
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