The outrage gap: A possible explanation

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.



Filed under Readings in Politics

2 responses to “The outrage gap: A possible explanation

  1. the problem with this survey john nery is that there’s no “people power” option na pwedeng piliin sa survey.

    And those who are for resignation are not necessarily against people power and vice versa.

    (Or those who are Noli’s resignation are not necessarily against the idea of VP Noli as acting president while special elections are being prepared.)

    The survey should have asked those who were in favor of arroyo’s resignation if they will support people power to oust arroyo too.

    kung resignation o coup (at foreign intervention) lang ang pagpipilian mo, resignation na lang.

  2. johnmarzan

    Here’s another post na gusto kong i-comment lang:

    john nery: “Let’s deal with the 59 percent who say they want Arroyo to resign:

    16 percent say they want GMA to resign and a snap election held
    14 percent say they want VP Noli de Castro to take over
    12 percent say they want both GMA and Noli to resign, followed by a snap election
    10 percent say they want GMA to be replaced by a temporary council
    7 percent say they want Noli to temporarily take over “while preparing for a new government under a new Constitution”
    On the other hand, 34 percent say they want GMA to continue:

    23 percent say until her term ends in 2010
    11 percent say until a new parliamentary set-up is ready, even before 2010
    Of all possible options, then, the continue-the-course-until-2010 actually ends up with the plurality — an interpretation that favors Austero. Are we splitting political hairs? Possibly. But since politics is the realm of the possible, we need to look at the actual scenarios the pollster used in the survey.”

    it really doesn’t matter, john. Erap had good poll numbers back in 2000.

    Majority of filipinos were actually against his resignation. poll after poll showed that. pero natanggal pa rin siya ano?

    OTOH, most recent surveys show people want Arroyo to resign or be removed from office and have given her low approval ratings,

    but she’s the one who was able to cling to her position by brute force and intimidation.

    go figure.

    Moral of the story: don’t trust surveys. 😉 :p

    Moral of the story 2: as long as you have the military’s support, you can do “people power”, kahit na minority lang ang gustong magpabagsak sa isang presidente na katulad ni erap.

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