Cybercampaigning in the 2010 Presidential Election in the Phils


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This presentation was given during CPRsouth4 in Dec 2009 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This is based on a study carried out with funding support from the Philippine ICT Research Network in Feb-August 2009.

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  • On May 10, 2010 , 50 million Filipinos are expected to vote at 350,000 precincts to elect a president, vice president, and nearly 300 members of Congress as well as more than 17,000 local officials. Each election year, candidates and parties come up with their own gimmicks to attract voters, the most expensive being political ads on TV, radio, and print—traditional mainstream media that cost billions of pesos In recent years, the internet has been included as one of the “platforms” of political candidates. From websites to social networking sites, candidates have invaded cyberspace for their campaigns. The medium offers a cheaper and interactive platform but access by citizens still limited. This research looks at this new phenomenon of cybercampaigning, particularly for the 2010 presidential elections.
  • TV ads cost P250-300,000 for a 30-sec. spot. Candidates who spend much during campaigns prone to corruption when in office to repay patrons. Law sets campaign ad spending limit at P3/per voter or P150 million (USD3.1 million) for 50 million voters (2009) In 2004, presidential candidates spent P5-10 billion (USD104-208 million), compared to P1-3 billion (USD 31.2 to 62.5 million) in 1998 RA 9006 “Fair Elections Act” (2001) allows: National office - 120 minutes (TV ad); 180 minutes (radio ad) for each candidate/party Local office - 60 minutes (TV ad); 90 minutes (radio ad) for each candidate/party On internet, candidates can reach voters who can, in turn, “spread” the word thru SNS, Twitters, etc. Information can easily be created, revised, and updated
  • Combined use of websites and social networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster and YouTube.
  • Real-world characteristics will be replicated on party/candidate websites, without maximizing interactive and networking potential of ICTs Major parties/candidates dominating everyday domestic politics, who have the resources and machinery, will have greater presence and also dominate cyberspace
  • Traditionally, candidates (information producers) provide one-way, downward information to voters (info consumers) thru mainstream media. This same relationship will be seen online. Dominant candidates with party machinery who enjoy great media exposure will also dominate cyberspace. Same political ad content in TMM will be seen on cyberspace with little, if any, use for dynamic and interactive features of the internet.
  • On the contrary, candidates/parties can interact with, mobilize support and encourage campaign participation of, the electorates Allows candidates with less resources and rarely seen in mainstream media to dominate campaign in cyberspace
  • With the Internet, voters now have the tool to participate and engage candidates and other voters The gap between candidate and voters is narrowed, as electorates play a bigger role in campaigning, thereby empowering them
  • Each feature includes several items: Information (12); Mobilization (5); Community (10); Services (9); Design (6). Perfect item-score = 42. In the end, items of each feature are measured based on their cumulative item-scores and weighted scores. Perfect weighted-score = 5.
  • 7 candidates got a passing score, with 6 getting an above-average score. Escudero got highest score of 3.0. He dominated mobilization where almost everybody else got a 0 score. Pangilinan got the highest score for any feature; a 0.9 for information 3 candidates (Binay, Estrada, and de Castro) got a below-average score, w/ de Castro getting the lowest score. All 3 scored 0 for mobilization and below ave. for community. Two of them scored below ave. for design.
  • Sampling frame was Facebook and Friendster network of 5 potential candidates, who approved researcher’s invitation to join network. Sample list was drawn by selecting the 30 th member on candidate’s network list who is Filipino and at least 18 years of age. As of May 15, 2009, total sample list consisted of 581 eligible respondents. 142 SNS members responded to request and gave e-mail address. 15 responded from Friendster and 57 from Facebook, a total of 72 respondents, a 12% response rate based on sample list of 581.
  • What did we find out? A majority of SNS respondents were 30-49 years old, male, and employed. Over 40% was based in Manila and almost 30% resides in Luzon. Interestingly, 18% of them were based abroad.
  • 40 (55.6%) of the respondents come from the Upper Class, 22 of them come from Villar and Legarda’s network. Most of the respondents don’t belong to a political group, only 19 do. Over half of them are “still deciding” on which candidate to support.
  • Almost 50% voted last in 2007 Congressional and local elections. Most respondents are registered voters and almost all plan to vote in 2010.
  • Almost 70% of respondents have been using the internet for over 7 years . Over 60% of the 63 who responded to this question have internet subscription at home Almost all 63 respondents use the internet everyday News and current affairs dominate the info accessed online, but info specific to politics and government was not as popular
  • Networking at work: respondents found out about candidate SNS through their membership. Half of respondents belonged to more than 1 candidate SNS. Respondents joined candidate’s SNS mainly to access information about them. Only 17% joined because the believed in the candidate. A measly 4% joined because they wanted to be heard
  • TV as main campaign medium is confirmed by interviews with media relations team and PR experts Internet was a distant second to TV in rank #1 but a close second to newspaper in rank #2. However, remember that sample is biased. For the masses, scenario can be very different. Interestingly, the ubiquitous mobile phone was ranked #6
  • Online newspapers were main info sources, which suggests that respondents are a “reading” bunch (newspaper ranked #2 and 3, offline) Escudero scored low on web services but aced mobilization, which Roxas flunked.
  • Despite being heavy and veteran internet users, respondents seem focused on the information they can access from candidates and not on the opportunity to engage them or participate in campaign activities Main reason for visiting cybercampaigning tools is access to information When asked what content/feature they found most beneficial , respondents point to access to more information about credentials and track record, and advocacies Getting information about meetings, forums, and activities that they can attend only ranked #4
  • There is potential for equalization in recruitment of team of core supporters online Edge-based organizations empower supporters at the edge (those out on the field) to make decisions, conceptualize and implement activities, and mobilize support for a candidate, without being part of a rigid, high-cost campaign structure (Sviokla, 2009)
  • Resource theory argues that those who have access to resources are the ones who can afford to use the internet “ Undecided voters,” an important population who can be swayed, who are open to what political candidates have to offer. US and UK scholars point to transformative potential of Internet more as an “organizational tool” targeted to supporters and activists rather than as a communication device aimed at persuading undecided voters (Vaccari, 2008) and the internet’s inability to attract “floating voters” (undecided) .
  • Trust issue: Filipinos more comfortable with face-to-face, interpersonal, and unmediated transactions Even respondents who are pre-disposed to have inclination to politics use the internet mostly for general news, work, and to communicate with loved ones Apart from reforming party machinery, it remains to be seen whether Filipino voters themselves will use the internet beyond the usual information acquisition. Are they willing and able to take part as core supporters to campaign for a candidate they truly believe in? What is the value-added of learning more about the candidates, if the information will come from the candidates themselves? How do voters really choose their candidates given more “information?” For example, some people in SNS ask candidates for help in addressing their personal problems, such as seeking jobs abroad, bad water supply in their village, or to support their candidacy in their barangay. But, that’s another research topic.
  • Cybercampaigning in the 2010 Presidential Election in the Phils

    1. 1. Mary Grace P. Mirandilla December 7, 2009 CPR south 4, Negombo, Sri Lanka
    2. 2. Background <ul><li>Internet is transforming the information and communication environment of political landscape, including election campaigns </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lower cost vs. traditional campaigning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Implications on political financing/governance </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Level the playing field </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactivity and networking features allow candidates to engage voters and vice-versa </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create, update, and verify information anytime, anywhere as long as internet available </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Why study cybercampaigning in RP? <ul><li>Filipino internet use growing and diversifying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet users grew by over 900% from year 2000 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many Filipinos into social networking sites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Scant literature on RP internet use for politics. Few studies since 2004 elections </li></ul><ul><li>Not much information on how Filipino voters perceive and use cybercampaigning tools </li></ul><ul><li>Need to build body of knowledge on the internet’s role in election campaign in RP </li></ul>
    4. 4. Objectives <ul><li>Objectives: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To compare how Filipino politicians use cybercampaign platforms from the traditional mainstream media (TMM) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To determine how site visitors perceive the use and benefits of cybercampaign platforms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To analyze the policy and regulatory implications of cybercampaign platforms in the Philippines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How and to what extent are potential 2010 candidates using online platforms compared to TMM for election campaigns? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the potential of the internet to complement, supplement, or supplant costly campaigning on TMMs? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do Filipino internet users perceive the use and benefits of cybercampaign platforms? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the policy and regulatory implications of cybercampaigning in the Philippines? </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Cyberspace Normalization <ul><li>Socioeconomic and political relationships online resemble those of the real world </li></ul><ul><li>Internet is shaped by real-world features —common campaign tactics, established power and resource relations, or traditional cultural values (Margolis, Resnick, & Wolfe, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Internet will do little to change “politics-as-usual” in election campaigns (Small, 2008; Norris & Curtice, 2008) </li></ul>
    7. 7. Cyberspace Equalization/Innovation <ul><li>Unlike standard, mainstream media, where information flows from “one to many,” the Internet permits “many-to-many” reciprocal flows </li></ul><ul><li>As an interconnected and interactive medium, the Internet is a network that has no privileged center </li></ul><ul><li>Any netizen can create and distribute information , not just consume it (Margolis, Resnick, & Wolfe, 1999) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Cybercampaign Innovation ONE-WAY EMPOWERING INTERACTIVE COST-EFFECTIVE Access, provide , and validate information Promote or criticize a candidate Quick feedback Interact w/ candidate and other voters Information provision Candidate promotion Political discussion Voter mobilization Campaign participation Fundraising
    9. 9. Methodology <ul><li>Combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies </li></ul><ul><li>Supply – analysis of candidate websites adopting a scoring system that marks presence or absence of campaign-related content/features (Bentivegna, 2002; Gibson and Ward, 2000; and Gibson, Margolis, Resnick, and Ward, 2003) ; structured and unstructured interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Demand – online survey of site visitors thru candidates’ social networking sites (SNS) to inquire about: familiarity with online and offline campaign tools; kind of information they access from both sources; and their perceived benefits of online campaigning </li></ul>
    10. 10. Candidate Websites
    11. 11. Candidate Website Scoring System <ul><li>Information </li></ul><ul><li>candidate as “communication producer”; data such as biographical and political profiles, news releases, position papers, and policy lines </li></ul><ul><li>Mobilization </li></ul><ul><li>candidate’s daily schedule, public appearances, opportunities to meet potential voters, electoral committee management team, solicitation of participation to join online and offline events, fundraising, and provision of campaign paraphernalia </li></ul>
    12. 12. Candidate Website Scoring System <ul><li>Community </li></ul><ul><li>venues for citizens to express opinion about candidate’s program; take part in forums, live chats, or polls; leave messages in a noticeboard, which others can reply to or view </li></ul><ul><li>Services </li></ul><ul><li>downloading of software, links to other websites, entertainment (comic strips, political trivia, and jokes), and sending of SMS </li></ul><ul><li>Website design and Multimedia </li></ul><ul><li>graphics, moving icons, video, photos, live streaming that helps information and communication </li></ul>
    13. 13. Candidate Website Scores
    14. 14. What do candidate websites contain? <ul><li>Most websites (7 out of 10) offer candidate information and creative web services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Political profile” and “media releases” present in all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Electoral information” found in only 1 website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dominated by downward ICF </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Community and mobilization features garnered the lowest score; mobilization was hardly present </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Guestbook/contact form” (in 8 out of 10) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Join a team of supporters” (in 7 out of 10) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dominated by interactive, asynchronous and upward ICF functions </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Candidate SNS
    16. 16. 72 Respondents 57 15
    17. 17. Profile Age 30-49 y/o 33 (54.2%) 18-29 y/o 20 (38.9%) 50+ y/o 4 (5.0%) Sex Male 40 (55.6%) Female 32 (44.4%) Location Manila 30 (41.7%) Luzon 20 (27.8%) Abroad 13 (18.1%) Mindanao 5 (6.9%) Visayas 4 (5.6%) Employment Yes 53 (73.6%) Student 11 (15.3%) Unemployed 8 (1.1%)
    18. 18. Profile Income P50,001 and up (Class A - Upper Class) 27 P30,001-P50,000 (Class B - Upper Class) 13 P15,001-PP30,000 (Class C1 - Middle Class) 8 P8,001-P15,000 (Class C2 - Middle Class) 7 P3,001-P8,000 (Class D - Lower Class) 2 P3,000 or less (Class E - Extremely low class) 2 Political Group No 53 (73.6%) Yes 19 Political party Party-list Interest group Support for a candidate Still choosing a candidate 38 (52.7%) Active supporter of a candidate 14 Passive supportive of a candidate 12 Apolitical/doesn’t support any 8 55.6%
    19. 19. Profile <ul><li>Last voted </li></ul><ul><li>2007 elections 32 (44%) </li></ul><ul><li>First-time voter in 2010 12 </li></ul><ul><li>2004 presidential elections 13 </li></ul><ul><li>Other 8 </li></ul>Registered voter Yes 51 (70.8%) Will register 15 No 6 Will vote in 2010 Yes 65 (90.2%) No 7 Don't know at this stage Don’t believe in our voting system Don’t know how to register for absentee voting I have no reason to do so I will be out of the country for further studies Name lost in register Can’t register in RP in time for election
    20. 20. Internet Use <ul><li>For how long now </li></ul><ul><li>7+ years 49 (68%) </li></ul><ul><li>5+ to 7 years 12 </li></ul><ul><li>3+ to 5 years 6 </li></ul><ul><li>1+ to 3 years 1 </li></ul><ul><li>A few months to 1 year 3 </li></ul>Mode of access Subscription at home 39 (54%) Office/school 17 Internet café 5 Prepaid access 2 Missing 9 Frequency Everyday 54 (79%) 3-5 times a week 8 Once a week 1 Missing 9 Information accessed online News/current affairs 64 (88.8%) Work-related information 59 Info about family/friends 59 Politics and government 44 Show business 36 School-related information 31
    21. 21. Membership in Candidate SNS <ul><li>Networking at work! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge of a candidate’s SNS thru membership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>36 (50%) belonged to more than one network </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Access to information about candidate is main reason for joining candidate’s SNS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only 12 (17%) joined because they “believe in the candidate” ; 8 (11%) to “support the candidate” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Only 3 (4%) joined to “participate and be heard” </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Offline Info Source on 2010 Elections <ul><li>Info about 2010 election and candidates was in news and personal ad format </li></ul><ul><li>Villar and Roxas dominated TMM exposure </li></ul><ul><li>“ Stand on issues and policies” ranked #1 & 2 in kind of info accessed in TMM </li></ul>Main source of news/info about 2010 elections Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 Television 42 13 5 0 0 0 Radio 2 3 5 24 6 3 Newspaper 7 21 24 4 0 0 Magazine 0 0 3 9 20 5 Mobile phone 0 0 1 1 6 22 Internet 18 20 14 6 3 0
    23. 23. Online Info Source on 2010 Elections <ul><li>Online news sites main source of info re 2010 elections/candidates on web, apart from SNS </li></ul><ul><li>Escudero and Roxas both ranked #1 as candidate usually seen/heard/read about online </li></ul><ul><li>Cybercampaign tools not popular among SNS users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>25 (34.7%) visited websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>19 (26.4%) visited blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>7 (9.7%) visited micro-blogging sites </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Perception of Cybercampaign Tools <ul><ul><li>Information access dominates main reason for visiting cybercampaigning resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ to know about agenda, platform, and advocacies”; and “to get updates on work and activities” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to more candidate info is most commonly perceived benefits of cybercampaign tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Candidate’s credential/track record , personal advocacies considered most useful feature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Info on meetings, forums and activities only ranked #4 </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Participation in Campaign Activities <ul><li>Over 50% : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>has voted during elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>has left a comment on websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>is likely to join in campaign activities offline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>is not likely to give candidates financial contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Over 35% : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>has campaigned for a candidate offline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>has participated in offline/online issue-based forums </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>is likely to join a miting-de-avance offline </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Conclusions <ul><li>SUPPLY SIDE </li></ul><ul><li>Cyberspace normalization seen at play </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One-way information features dominate website content, delivered like in TMM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Untapped potential of internet for mobilization and greater participation of electorates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community features, meant to engage voters in discussion, debates, and consultations, scored low </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But, a promising feature—invitation to join team of supporters —was seen in 7 out of 10 websites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can lead to creation of “edge-based organizations” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowering teams of core supporters, thru Internet, to play key role in campaign, instead of relying on patrons in local government, would be manifestation of equalization </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Conclusions <ul><li>DEMAND SIDE </li></ul><ul><li>People with the resources (upper class, employed) make up cybercampaign tool users </li></ul><ul><li>Despite biased sample, Internet not top choice for main source of election/candidate info </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Normalization seen in demand side </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ More candidate info” main reason for access and most commonly perceived benefit </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Low demand for more interaction with politicians either online or offline </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Opportunity in “ still undecided” voters? </li></ul>
    28. 28. Conclusions <ul><li>Reality check! </li></ul><ul><li>Contextualize empowerment in RP election campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Key informants and experts point to mobile phone as more appropriate ICT for RP campaigning </li></ul><ul><li>Fundraising not entrenched in RP election culture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Few Filipinos trust internet for transactions; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties lack infrastructure to generate contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Youth and OFWs main targets of cybercampaign, but do they use internet for politics? </li></ul><ul><li>More access to info may not lead to higher political consciousness or change how citizens value elections. </li></ul>
    29. 29. Conclusions <ul><li>Regulation on cybercampaigning in a grey area </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commission on Elections (Comelec): internet use to promote oneself is a right, form of freedom of expression </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regulating cybercampaign tools not recommended </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Implications on internet as a medium, in general </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transforming “candidate-voter relationship”—an opportunity never before seen in Philippines politics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comelec should maximize internet to better monitor and make campaign process transparent and accountable </li></ul>
    30. 30. <ul><li>Thank you very much. </li></ul><ul><li>gmirandilla(at)gmail(dot)com </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>