2016 polls: Of 'picky' voters and vague platforms

Magno Ardenia, ABS-CBN News

The upcoming presidential elections has so far showed two trends: picky voters and a varied but inconsistent campaign message from candidates, according to a political analyst.

This, as the recent pre-election surveys still show no clear frontrunner a few months before the May 9 national elections.

“I’d like to think that perhaps there were some frustrations or disappointments not only with the outgoing administration but even with the previous that this time around, the voters really looking for something that will differentiate one from the other,” political science professor Edmund Tayao told Mornings @ ANC Tuesday.

Presidential candidates also need to sharpen their campaign message amid "more picky voters."

In the February 2016 pre-election survey by Pulse Asia, for example, presidential hopefuls Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay are statistically tied on top spot, with Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Mar Roxas not lagging far behind.

READ: Poe, Binay share lead in tight pres'l race: Pulse

He said candidates should firm up their campaign message especially now that voters demand to hear more from the candidates about their platforms and stand on issues.

“No one has spoken categorically on the tax restructuring discussions recently, all they say is ‘I’m in favor of lowering the taxes,’ it’s not just a question of lowering the taxes, you have to restructure the whole thing,” he cited.

Tayao believes voters have become more discerning in choosing candidates, with the society now learning to get out of the "personality politics."

“Our political system is really something that promotes only personality politics but at a certain point, society learns how to get out of this straight job,” he said.

He also warned campaign teams to not underestimate the electorate, emphasizing that a candidate's character, personality, and reputation are no longer enough to win an election.

“The whole campaign team has been underestimating the electorate, we’re already in an information age, not everyone may be able to participate actively via the social media simply because of very weak infrastructure all over the country but it doesn’t mean that very less of us are actually engaged and following closely what’s going on in the government or what the policies and programs have something to do in our everyday life,” he said.

He advised that campaign ads should now be more substantive while social media campaigning should be supplemented with niche campaigning.

"Micro campaign or niche campaigning or going to the very small geographic areas is not only about the message, it's not only about issues but also about reach, The social media is a good start... But at the end of the day you still have very small communities there that's dependent on radio not only for information but also for entertainment so you wanna reach them because at the end of the day, sometimes, they don't even know who the candidates running," he said.