I did not mean to suggest last Friday that with the latest Pulse Asia survey President Arroyo can now rest easy. While none of the resignation options constituted a plurality, public dissatisfaction with the President is still considerable. But why aren’t more people out in the streets?
The very first entry I posted, eight months ago, raised the question of the outrage gap. To be sure, I thought of the gap then in terms of the difference between those who thought the President committed election fraud and those who wanted her to resign.
There is, then, this seeming disconnect between public perception of the President’s "lapse in judgment" and the present lack of solid support for her resignation. Let’s call that difference the outrage gap.
These days, with resignation in general terms the popular option, I think of the outrage gap in terms of the difference between those who want her to resign (all together, 59 percent of voting-age Filipinos) and those who are actually out in the streets, demanding her resignation.
The latest Pulse Asia survey suggests a possible explanation. (In truth, the previous survey, conducted in October, already carried the same possibly explanatory results, but I did not realize it then.)
Consider the following table. Only 19 percent of voting-age Filipinos consider the possibility of GMA continuing in office as the "most inimical" scenario. (Pulse Asia, by the way, posts the wrong Tagalog question underneath the table.)
That total is down from 21 percent in October; very much within the margin of error, of course, but perhaps the downward movement means something?
At any rate, here it seems to me is one possible explanation for the outrage gap, as redefined. While it seems a statistical majority of voting-age Filipinos prefer to see Arroyo resign, only a fifth consider her continuing in office the worst thing that can happen to the country. That could mean that, roughly speaking, two-thirds of all voting-age Filipinos who want her out are actually prepared to live and let live.
Of course there may be other explanations. (I have never been for reductionist explanations; I am always wary of the guy in the room who says the problem or the solution is simple — even or especially if that guy is me.) The government crackdown may have cowed some from venturing into the parliament of the streets; the presence of moral exemplars like Imee Marcos and JV Ejercito may have cooled the ardor of some in the pro-resignation ranks; the active and high-profile participation of leftist politicians may have struck the fear of God in others; and so on and so forth.
But it seems to me that that particular "live and let live" index bears watching — perhaps no longer as a harbinger of people power, but still as an omen of change.