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Must Read: Practical Considerations for Political Strategists (Updated)

By Xander Sigua and the ISTRATEHIYA Electoral Campaigns Team

Are you a political officer, or do you work for somebody planning to run for senator? Is he or she already a senator, and running for reelection? Is he or she presently occupying a different post, in the public or private sector, and planning to run for a seat in the Senate?

This article is about you, and them; or them, and you.

Here we will attempt to look at political operations, not strategic communications. This means we will try to answer the question “Where?”, not “How?”.

Ready?

Total Voting Population

The total voting population of the Philippines, according to the data used by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the 2019 national and local elections, is 61,843,771.

The total voting population of the Philippines, according to the data used by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the 2019 national and local elections, is 61,843,771.

To be sure, this figure would still go up in the next elections, during the 2022 national and local elections, as registration of new and delisted voters is still ongoing.

Without a doubt, the best number that should be used for any discussion on elections is the actual and exact figure. However, due to the unavailability of anything definite at this time, the next best basis is the latest official figure, which is that number used during the 2019 national and local elections: 61,843,771. This, then, is what will be used in all references to the total voting population in this article.

Set?

Number of Votes to Win in a Senatorial Election

Based on the results of the 2019 elections, a candidate for senator needs to get at least 14,504,936 votes (the number of votes garnered by the candidate who occupied the twelfth and last slot), or roughly 23% of the total voting population, or roughly 31% of those who actually voted, in order to win. For reference, the candidate who ranked first got 25,283,727 votes. This is roughly 41% of the total voting population, or roughly 53% of those who actually voted.

For purposes of setting targets, the rule is, as usual, as always: the higher, the better. Therefore, a relatively safe goal would be at around 30% of the total voting population (not of the assumed voter turnout). In the 2019 senatorial elections, the winning candidate who ranked sixth got roughly 29% of the total voting population.

Therefore, to reiterate, 30% would be a relatively safe goal. 30% of the total voting population is 18,553,131 votes. This, then, is the target number of votes.

30% of the total voting population is 18,553,131 votes. This, then, is the target number of votes.

The question that this article will attempt to help answer, as previously mentioned, is not “How?”, but “Where?”, to find these more than eighteen million votes, given the reality that not all senatorial campaigns are created equal.

Go?

The Regional Landscape

The whole of Luzon comprises 55.9% of the total voting population.

The whole of Visayas comprises 20.8% of the total voting population.

The whole of Mindanao comprises 23.3% of the total voting population.

If we look at the National Capital Region (NCR) and its two neighbors, Regions III and IVA, then together they already comprise 36.4% of the total voting population.

In any case, these are the percentages of all the regions of the country, from highest to lowest:

RankRegionPercentage
1Region IVA14.0%
2NCR11.4%
3Region III11.0%
4Region VII8.0%
5Region VI7.8%
6Region V5.9%
7Region I5.4%
8Region VIII5.0%
9Region XI4.9%
10Region X4.6%
11Region XII4.0%
13Region IX3.5%
12Region II3.6%
14ARMM3.5%
15Region IVB3.0%
16CARAGA2.8%
17CAR1.6%

The Provincial Landscape

For purposes of this portion of the article, each city and municipality in the NCR shall be considered as a “province”. In addition, based on the COMELEC list, Cotabato City and Isabela City (Basilan) are treated as special provinces, so they shall both be treated in this portion of the article as “provinces” as well. Therefore, there are a total of 100 “provinces” in this portion of the article: 81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces.

There are a total of 100 “provinces”: 81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces.

The top 3 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) already comprise almost 12% of the total voting population.

The top 6 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) already comprise almost 21% of the total voting population.

The top 10 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) already comprise almost 31% of the total voting population.

The top 14 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City already comprise almost 42% of the total voting population.

The top 18 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City and Manila already comprise almost 51% of the total voting population.

The top 25 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City and Manila already comprise more than 60% of the total voting population.

The top 34 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan already comprise almost 71% of the total voting population.

The top 34 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan already comprise almost 71% of the total voting population.

The top 45 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan and Makati already comprise more than 80% of the total voting population.

The top 58 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan, Makati, Pasig, Taguig and Valenzuela already comprise more than 90% of the total voting population.

Real Provinces + NCR CitiesPercentage
Top 312%
Top 621%
Top 1031%
Top 14 plus Quezon City42%
Top 18 plus Quezon City and Manila51%
Top 25 plus Quezon City and Manila60%
Top 34 plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan71%
Top 45 plus Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan and Makati80%
Top 58 plus Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan, Makati, Pasig, Taguig and Valenzuela90%

This means that the remaining 23 real provinces, nine cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces (35 areas out of 100 areas) only comprise less than 10% of the total voting population.

The remaining 23 real provinces, nine cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces (35 areas out of 100 areas) only comprise less than 10% of the total voting population.

The Voting Population of NCR Cities vis-à-vis Provinces

Quezon City (1,330,118) is comparable to Leyte (1,292,882). Leyte is the 13th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Manila (1,065,149) is comparable to Isabela (1,050,681). Isabela is the 17th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Caloocan (719,447) is comparable to Cagayan (735,000). Cagayan is the 27th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Makati (452,424) is comparable to Sultan Kudarat (452,011). Sultan Kudarat is the 44th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Pasig (440,856) and Taguig (440,300) are comparable to Northern Samar (442,824). Northern Samar is the 45th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Valenzuela (378,013) is comparable to Sulu (376,235). Sulu is the 53rd largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Muntinlupa (341,511), Parañaque (328,924) and Las Piñas (328,384) are comparable to Eastern Samar (300,890). Eastern Samar is the 59th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Pasay (285,538) is comparable to Occidental Mindoro (289,953). Occidental Mindoro is the 61st largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Marikina (246,101) is comparable to Basilan (263,017), Basilan is the 63rd largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Mandaluyong (229,470) and Malabon (222,350) are comparable to Tawi-Tawi (210,419). Tawi-Tawi is the 64th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Navotas (145,806) is comparable to Aurora (145,617). Aurora is the 70th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

San Juan (82,977) is comparable to Dinagat Islands (78,795). Dinagat Islands is the 77th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Pateros (37,235) is not really comparable to any province, but the closest to it is Camiguin (63,756). Camiguin is the 80th largest province (out of 81) in terms of number of registered voters.

Allowable Expenses

Using the latest official figures, the law allows each candidate for senator to spend PhP185,531,313 (PhP3.00 per registered voter). If and when the candidate is without any political party and without support from any political party (running as a genuine independent), then the candidate can spend PhP309,218,855 (PhP5.00 per voter).

If and when the overseas absentee voters (1,822,175) are included in the computation of allowable expenses, and they must be included, it would be PhP190,997,838 and PhP318,329,730, respectively.

Per records of the COMELEC, based on the submitted Statement of Contributions and Expenses (SOCE) of the senatorial candidates for the 2019 elections, there were ten candidates who spent above and beyond the one hundred million mark, but still within the legally permissible expenditure levels:

2019 Senatorial Election Expenses

RankAmountWinnersLosers
1PhP179,193,153.40 
2Php161,418,299.31 ● 
3PhP159,169,836.54 ● 
4PhP156,433,463.80 ● 
5Php153,655,185.84 ● 
6PhP135,529,061.69 ● 
7PhP132,146,754.55 ● 
8PhP125,302,747.57   ●
9PhP121,952,358.93 ●
10PhP109,502,291.61  ●

One hundred million is one hundred million! Only ten out of 62, or 16%, of those in the certified list of candidates, were able to produce this kind of money. Be that as it may, three out of these ten lost, and three out of the seven who won landed at the bottom six of the winner’s circle. Hence, campaign funds alone do not guarantee victory, or even a higher ranking. Thus, political strategists must look at other factors besides just having the money to spend, or at least strategize the wise use of resources even if they are abundant.

Campaign funds alone do not guarantee victory, or even a higher ranking.

Practical Considerations

Now we know the total voting population, and the number of votes necessary to win in a senatorial election.

Now we know the regional landscape, the provincial landscape, and the voting population of NCR cities vis-à-vis provinces.

Now we know the allowable expenses.

But, still, the question remains: Where will we get the more than eighteen million votes to win?

Where will we get the more than eighteen million votes to win?

The Ideal Scenario

The ideal scenario, of course, is that a candidate for a seat in the Senate will visit, as well as engage in field operations in, each and every “province” (81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces). In this portion of the article, we will also use the same treatment as previously made above, in that each city and municipality in the NCR shall be considered as a “province”. In addition, Cotabato City and Isabela City (Basilan) shall be treated as special provinces as well.

Now, field operations include, but are not limited to, full sorties, quick whistlestops, postering, leafletting, recorrida, among others. All these mean airline tickets, hotel accommodations, venue reservations, crowd mobilizations, vehicle rentals, design and printing of campaign materials, shipment and transportation of campaign materials, installation of campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials, among many other related and relevant expenditure items.

Field operations include, but are not limited to, full sorties, quick whistlestops, postering, leafletting, recorrida, among others.

Assuming that a senatorial candidate has a campaign budget of at least PhP100,000,000, and, to reiterate, only ten out of 62, or 16%, of those in the certified list of candidates for the 2019 senatorial elections were able to produce this kind of money, then this would mean that the candidate would only have a budget of around PhP1,000,000 per “province” (81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces). But, of course, this is further assuming that every centavo goes to field operations, which is never the case.

The truth of the matter is that the strategic communications aspect of the campaign, especially advertisements on television, radio, print, and social media, as well as news management and media relations, usually eat up the chunk of the campaign fund, from a low of 60%, to a high of 80%, and even beyond.

The strategic communications aspect of the campaign, especially advertisements on television, radio, print, and social media, as well as news management and media relations, usually eat up the chunk of the campaign fund.

Let us say, for example, that 70% goes to this component (strategic communications) of the campaign, then the PhP100,000,000 immediately becomes only PhP30,000,000 for field operations. Consequently, this translates into a budget of only PhP300,000 per “province” (81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces).

To break it down further using the province of Cebu, the largest province in terms of number of registered voters (3,082,621), as the implementation area, this provincial budget translates into an equivalent of only around PhP5,660 for each of the three independent cities, six component cities, and 44 municipalities of Cebu. PhP5,660! Imagine spending only this amount of campaign budget for field operations during the entire duration of the official campaign period in cities like Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City, or any other city or municipality for that matter! You cannot, right? This is like spending PhP63 per day for the 90-day official campaign period.

Even if we use Batanes, the smallest province in terms of number of registered voters (12,204), as the implementation area, the provincial budget translates into an equivalent of only around PhP42,857 for each of its seven municipalities. Remember, this budget is supposed to cover all these: airline tickets, hotel accommodations, venue reservations, crowd mobilizations, vehicle rentals, design and printing of campaign materials, shipment and transportation of campaign materials, installation of campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials, among many other related and relevant expenditure items. And, do not forget, this is for the entire duration of the official campaign period. It is still unimaginable, right? This is like spending PhP476 per day for the 90-day official campaign period. And this is already in the smallest province in the country, with only seven municipalities.

Again, the assumption in the above computations for Cebu and Batanes is that the budget of the candidate is at least PhP100,000,000, and 30% or PhP30,000,000 goes to field operations. What if the budget is smaller, or so much smaller, which is the case for most candidates?

Now there is a reason why the ideal scenario is called an ideal scenario. It is merely ideal, never real.

Given the computations above, it even sounds way less than ideal, or not at all.

The Real Situation: Physical Presence

The real situation is that most candidates can personally visit only about half of the “provinces”, even less, or much less, during the entire duration of the official campaign period.

To start with, the official campaign period is only “90 days”.

The official campaign period is only “90 days”.

To be sure, it is physically impossible for any candidate to visit a province or provinces each and every day during this time. If and when we assume that the candidate will spend all weekends as his or her rest days, which this two-day break per week usually happens anyway during a senatorial campaign whether weekends or not, then this “90 days” immediately becomes only 65 days (there are about 25 Saturdays and Sundays during the official campaign period for the 2022 senatorial elections). Therefore, this is already 35% less than the total number of “provinces” (81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces). Plus, of course, there is the usual Holy Week break when any form of campaigning is prohibited. 

Sure, a candidate can attempt to swing by two or more provinces in one and the same day, using jets and choppers (definitely not commercial airlines, with all the queuing and all the waiting), and of course a convoy of vehicles, but this would mean doing only quickies, and nothing deeper or wider. Without a doubt, this would also mean consuming a large portion of the total campaign budget just for these special and private transportation services. And, looking at the rough computations previously made above, it is simply impracticable to make this happen, or at least make them happen often enough.

The Real Situation: Campaign Funds

The real situation is that most campaigns do not have funds running in nine figures, while on the side noting that nobody in fairly recent memory has ever won a senatorial campaign spending less than eight figures.

In any case, it has already been repeatedly mentioned in this article that only ten out of 62, or 16%, of those in the certified list of candidates for the 2019 senatorial elections were able to raise and spend nine figures, and three of the ten even lost. Among the election winners, five did not reach nine figures, and the lowest declared campaign expenditure is PhP10,754,074, while the rest of the four who did not breach the one hundred million mark spent an average of PhP76,000,000. But, if we look at the total expenses of all the winning candidates in the 2019 senatorial elections, the average expenditure per elected senator is an overwhelming PhP111,000,000.

The average expenditure per elected senator is an overwhelming PhP111,000,000.

Just for kicks, three of those who lost spent nine figures and another three of those who lost spent eight figures. What a waste. Together they spent almost half a billion pesos. And this amount only includes what were officially declared, and this amount does not yet include those who spent seven figures and less.

Anyway, this is how expensive running for office has become, and there is just no guarantee of victory, despite spending eight figures, or even nine figures.

The Real Situation: Imperfect, Incomplete

The real situation is that there is no perfect campaign, or complete campaign, and a candidate can only do something so much, or be somewhere so much.

So there.

Proposed Solutions: Physical Presence

The candidate must visit, and the campaign team must engage in field operations in, ONLY the top 34 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan which already comprise almost 71% of the total voting population.

Wild? Yes.

This means that the candidate, and the campaign team, will NOT hold events and activities, and all other types or forms of field operations, in the remaining 47 real provinces, 13 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces (63 out of 100 areas) which merely comprise less than 30% of the total voting population.

Wild? Yes.

The necessary implication, or consequence, of this kind of strategy is that the goal of getting more than eighteen million votes must be taken, mostly, from the 34 real provinces and the three cities in the NCR (as indicated above).

Of course, while being conservative is the way to go, being unrealistic is not. Therefore, in the computation on where to get the target number of votes, a portion should still be allocated to the areas that will not be included in the field operations, in the hope that the strategic communications component of the campaign (especially the advertisements on television, radio, print, and social media, as well as news management and media relations) by itself can and will already somehow produce votes from those untouched places.

In any case, for the purposes of this article, we will aim to get 70% of the target number of votes for the candidate (12,987,192) in the included areas of operation (37 out of 100 areas), and only 30% of the target number of votes for the candidate (5,565,939) in the excluded areas of operation (63 out of 100 areas).

Aim to get 70% of the target number of votes for the candidate in the included areas of operation (37 out of 100 areas), and only 30% of the target number of votes for the candidate in the excluded areas of operation (63 out of 100 areas).

As for the 70% (12,987,192), these are the target number of votes per area:

Where to get the 70%

PROVINCE/CITYREGISTERED
VOTERS
TARGET NUMBER
OF VOTES
CEBU3,082,621915,618
CAVITE2,148,899638,278
PANGASINAN1,946,692578,217
LAGUNA1,903,107565,272
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL1,889,200561,141
BULACAN1,863,596553,536
BATANGAS1,717,292510,080
RIZAL1,620,609481,362
ILOILO1,525,168453,014
NUEVA ECIJA1,460,450433,791
PAMPANGA1,460,303433,747
DAVAO DEL SUR1,410,190418,863
QUEZON CITY1,330,118395,079
LEYTE1,292,882384,019
QUEZON1,284,444381,513
CAMARINES SUR1,199,609356,315
ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR1,108,435329,234
MANILA1,065,149316,377
ISABELA1,050,681312,079
MISAMIS ORIENTAL969,388287,933
BOHOL898,682266,932
NEGROS ORIENTAL888,826264,004
BUKIDNON875,634260,086
SOUTH COTABATO860,059255,460
ALBAY840,500249,650
TARLAC838,464249,045
COTABATO (NORTH COTABATO)773,291229,687
MAGUINDANAO766,497227,669
CAGAYAN735,000218,314
CALOOCAN719,447213,694
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE684,073203,187
PALAWAN677,185201,141
DAVAO (DAVAO DEL NORTE)605,643179,892
MASBATE566,578168,288
SAMAR (WESTERN SAMAR)563,133167,265
LANAO DEL SUR556,791165,381
BATAAN545,507162,030
TOTAL43,724,14312,987,192

As for the 30% (5,565,939), these are the target number of votes per area:

Where to get the 30%?

PROVINCE/CITYREGISTERED
VOTERS
TARGET NUMBER
OF VOTES
LANAO DEL NORTE538,177165,316
ZAMBALES515,724158,419
ORIENTAL MINDORO513,542157,748
CAPIZ513,329157,683
LA UNION510,709156,878
SORSOGON493,116151,474
AGUSAN DEL NORTE477,659146,726
COMPOSTELA VALLEY462,942142,205
ILOCOS SUR457,770140,617
MAKATI452,424138,974
SULTAN KUDARAT452,011138,848
NORTHERN SAMAR442,824136,026
PASIG440,856135,421
TAGUIG440,300135,250
AGUSAN DEL SUR423,230130,007
ILOCOS NORTE416,233127,857
SURIGAO DEL SUR413,593127,046
MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL408,837125,585
ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY400,525123,032
BENGUET391,158120,155
AKLAN390,360119,910
VALENZUELA378,013116,117
SULU376,235115,571
ANTIQUE371,244114,038
SURIGAO DEL NORTE367,305112,828
DAVAO ORIENTAL365,496112,272
CAMARINES NORTE351,514107,977
SARANGANI345,904106,254
MUNTINLUPA341,511104,904
EASTERN SAMAR338,718104,046
PARAÑAQUE328,924101,038
LAS PIÑAS328,384100,872
SOUTHERN LEYTE292,33789,799
OCCIDENTAL MINDORO289,95389,067
PASAY285,53887,711
NUEVA VIZCAYA278,89885,671
BASILAN263,01780,793
MARIKINA246,10175,597
MANDALUYONG229,47070,488
MALABON222,35068,301
TAWI-TAWI210,41964,636
ROMBLON198,07860,845
CATANDUANES196,40560,331
DAVAO OCCIDENTAL182,12255,944
ABRA177,05854,388
MARINDUQUE152,57046,866
NAVOTAS145,80644,788
AURORA145,61744,730
KALINGA137,65842,285
IFUGAO124,28938,179
BILIRAN121,75537,400
GUIMARAS119,53836,719
QUIRINO117,63536,135
MOUNTAIN PROVINCE108,51233,332
SAN JUAN82,97725,489
DINAGAT ISLANDS78,79524,204
SIQUIJOR76,22523,415
APAYAO74,74322,959
CAMIGUIN63,75619,584
PATEROS37,23511,438
BATANES12,2043,749
TOTAL18,119,6285,565,939

In addition, these are the number of days that a candidate must visit the included areas of operation (based on 65 days as previously discussed):

Where to spend the 65 days?

PROVINCE/CITYREGISTERED
VOTERS
NUMBER
OF DAYS
CEBU3,082,6215
CAVITE2,148,8993
PANGASINAN1,946,6923
LAGUNA1,903,1073
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL1,889,2003
BULACAN1,863,5963
BATANGAS1,717,2923
RIZAL1,620,6092
ILOILO1,525,1682
NUEVA ECIJA1,460,4502
PAMPANGA1,460,3032
DAVAO DEL SUR1,410,1902
QUEZON CITY1,330,1182
LEYTE1,292,8822
QUEZON1,284,4442
CAMARINES SUR1,199,6092
ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR1,108,4352
MANILA1,065,1492
ISABELA1,050,6812
MISAMIS ORIENTAL969,3881
BOHOL898,6821
NEGROS ORIENTAL888,8261
BUKIDNON875,6341
SOUTH COTABATO860,0591
ALBAY840,5001
TARLAC838,4641
COTABATO (NORTH COTABATO)773,2911
MAGUINDANAO766,4971
CAGAYAN735,0001
CALOOCAN719,4471
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE684,0731
PALAWAN677,1851
DAVAO (DAVAO DEL NORTE)605,6431
MASBATE566,5781
SAMAR (WESTERN SAMAR)563,1331
LANAO DEL SUR556,7911
BATAAN545,5071
TOTAL43,724,14365

If and when the candidate manages to get all of these votes in all of the above areas, then the candidate will most probably win, and will even more probably land somewhere in the middle of the winner’s circle. If and when the candidate falls short a little here and a little there, he or she can still win, but the chances are already bordering on the dangerous, especially if and when he or she falls short significantly in all or most areas.

Proposed Solutions: Campaign Funds

The candidate, and the campaign team, must spend the field operations budget in ONLY the top 34 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan which already comprise almost 71% of the total voting population.

Wild? Yes.

This means that the candidate, and the campaign team, will NOT spend for events and activities, and all other types or forms of field operations, in the remaining 47 real provinces, 13 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and two special provinces (63 out of 100 areas) which merely comprise less than 30% of the total voting population.

Wild? Yes.

But this means that more money will be spent in the areas where there are more voters, and less (or even zero) money is spent where there are less voters.

Therefore, using the same budget for field operations pegged at PhP30,000,000, instead of just having PhP300,000 per “province” (81 real provinces, 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, and 2 special provinces), we will now have more than PhP800,000 per area. But, of course, this is if we divide the field operations budget equally among the included areas of operation. And, of course, we will not.

This is a sample computation of a more scientific budgetary allocation based on the total voting population per area:

Where to spend the PhP30,000,000?

PROVINCE/CITYREGISTERED
VOTERS
BUDGET
CEBU3,082,621P2,115,047
CAVITE2,148,899P1,474,402
PANGASINAN1,946,692P1,335,664
LAGUNA1,903,107P1,305,759
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL1,889,200P1,296,218
BULACAN1,863,596P1,278,650
BATANGAS1,717,292P1,178,268
RIZAL1,620,609P1,111,932
ILOILO1,525,168P1,046,448
NUEVA ECIJA1,460,450P1,002,044
PAMPANGA1,460,303P1,001,943
DAVAO DEL SUR1,410,190P967,559
QUEZON CITY1,330,118P912,620
LEYTE1,292,882P887,072
QUEZON1,284,444P881,282
CAMARINES SUR1,199,609P823,075
ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR1,108,435P760,519
MANILA1,065,149P730,820
ISABELA1,050,681P720,893
MISAMIS ORIENTAL969,388P665,116
BOHOL898,682P616,604
NEGROS ORIENTAL888,826P609,841
BUKIDNON875,634P600,790
SOUTH COTABATO860,059P590,104
ALBAY840,500P576,684
TARLAC838,464P575,287
COTABATO (NORTH COTABATO)773,291P530,570
MAGUINDANAO766,497P525,909
CAGAYAN735,000P504,298
CALOOCAN719,447P493,627
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE684,073P469,356
PALAWAN677,185P464,630
DAVAO (DAVAO DEL NORTE)605,643P415,544
MASBATE566,578P388,740
SAMAR (WESTERN SAMAR)563,133P386,377
LANAO DEL SUR556,791P382,025
BATAAN545,507P374,283
TOTAL43,724,143P30,000,000

Other Options: Side Trip

During the course of the campaign, not all provincial trips will begin and finish in “Manila”. This means that not all of these trips are “fly in/fly out” types where candidates get out from Manila on the first commercial flight available to visit a province then go back to Manila on the last commercial flight available from wherever he or she may be. If and when private planes are resorted to, depending on the area because several airports still do not have night flight capability, either the campaign time is going to be very limited if round trip, or the trip will only be one way. In not too few occasions, the trips are one way. In fact, many of the trips are really overnight or more nights, covering several provinces per leg. Therefore, in case one or more of these provinces included in the particular leg are not in the recommended list of 34 provinces and three cities, minor field operations may still be conducted in these “side trip” areas as well, since the candidate and the campaign team are already present in, or in the vicinity of, these areas anyway. It must be noted, however, that any time, effort and money spent on a non-priority area is time, effort and money NOT spent on a priority area.

Other Options: Alternative Locations

While the earlier assumption was that there will be NO field trips on weekends, or that there will be at least a two-day break on a weekly basis to be considered as free time, this is a luxury that most candidates cannot afford. Usually, these days are spent by the candidate meeting with his or her campaign team, socializing with contributors or potential donors, doing the rounds in mainstream and social media in the capital, or otherwise catching up on rest and sleep, and more rest, and more sleep. These days, however, can likewise be spent covering more ground, while still not leaving “Manila”. Remember the comparisons made between NCR Cities vis-à-vis Provinces? A candidate can choose to go to “alternative locations”. A candidate can choose to campaign in Makati (452,424) instead of going to Sultan Kudarat (452,011) which will require passing through General Santos City by air then South Cotabato by land; or campaign in Pasig (440,856) instead of going to Northern Samar (442,824) which will require passing through Tacloban City by air then passing through Western Samar by land if there are no available flight schedules to Catarman; or campaign in Valenzuela (378,013) instead of going to Sulu (376,235) which will require passing through Zamboanga City by air then to Jolo by sea if there are no available flight schedules to Jolo; or campaign in Muntinlupa (341,511) or Parañaque (328,924) or Las Piñas (328,384) instead of going to Eastern Samar (300,890) which will require passing through Tacloban City by air then passing through Western Samar by land; or campaign in Navotas (145,806) instead of going to Aurora (145,617) which will require passing through Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija by land; and so on, and so forth (please refer to The Voting Population of NCR Cities vis-à-vis Provinces sectionabove). The point is that if a candidate wants to run the extra mile, then the better destinations are the nearest, cheapest, and hassle-free ones, which are similar or at least comparable anyway to the farther, more expensive, and logistically-complicated areas. Actually, if and when the candidate decides to cover ALL of the 16 cities and one municipality in the NCR, using all or some of the supposed two-day break per week, then this would already be like covering 14 more “provinces” in addition to the priority areas.

Other Options: Volunteers

Finally, let us talk about volunteers, whether by title or by action (yes, there are at least two kinds, and there are several combinations of these two kinds in varying degrees). Volunteers may offer time, effort and money. Volunteers may offer time and effort, but not money. Volunteers may offer money (this may be enough, this may not be enough), but not time and effort. Whatever it is, based on experience, there will always be expenses involved, even if volunteers offer time and effort, including money. There is rarely such a thing as everything. For example, let us say for the sake of argument that there is a volunteer in Dinagat Islands (78,795), or in Siquijor (76,225), or in Apayao (74,743). Materials still have to be produced, and these materials still have to be shipped, and the field operation to install these materials still have to be somehow coordinated with the internal campaign team, among others, thereby still taking organic time, effort and money away from the priority areas. To reiterate, any time, effort and money spent on a non-priority area is time, effort and money NOT spent on a priority area. Unless if these supposed volunteers commit 100%, which is, again, rare, then this type of campaign is not aggressively recommended, but may be carefully maneuvered to inflict as minimal interference as possible to the game plan. The best use, therefore, of volunteers, is that which drags the central campaign in the least way possible, which is social media (but this shall be discussed in a separate article).    

Any time, effort and money spent on a non-priority area is time, effort and money NOT spent on a priority area.     

Summary

First, aim to get around 30% of the total voting population (not of the assumed voter turnout) which is 18,553,131 votes.

Second, aim to raise at least PhP30,000,000 specifically for field operations, or whatever maximum amount can be raised specifically for field operations, then adjust accordingly by reducing (if the campaign fund is smaller) or increasing (if the campaign fund is larger) the budgetary allocation for some or all of the areas of operation. 

Third, conduct field operations in ONLY the top 34 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) out of 100 “provinces” plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan which already comprise almost 71% of the total voting population.

Fourth, allocate budget for ONLY the top 34 real provinces (according to the number of registered voters) plus Quezon City, Manila and Caloocan which already comprise almost 71% of the total voting population.

Fifth, strategically evaluate all the other options that may be available, while always bearing in mind that any time, effort and money spent on a non-priority area is time, effort and money NOT spent on a priority area.

Are you ready for wild? Wild could be the way to win.

Editor’s Note: The author is the Senior Vice President for Electoral Campaigns (on official leave) of ISTRATEHIYA, a one-stop shop for all strategic communications and political operations requirements, whether for government or corporate affairs, or for elections purposes. This article, first published on November 27, 2017, has been updated by the ISTRATEHIYA Electoral Campaigns Team with 2019 figures that can be used for the 2022 national and local elections.

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