skip to main content

Filipinos Slightly Favor McCain; Majority No Preference

by Julie Ray

Forty-nine percent said election outcome makes a difference

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Philippines is one of only a few countries Gallup surveyed where citizens preferred Republican Sen. John McCain to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama as the next U.S. president. In late May 2008, Filipinos slightly favored McCain (28%) over Obama (20%), though a slim majority (52%) did not express a preference.


Rural Filipinos and residents living in three regions outside the populous National Capital Region (NCR) that includes Manila appear to have given McCain the advantage over Obama. While significant percentages of rural residents and Filipinos living in the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao regions (which include a mix of urban and rural areas) did not appear to know enough about either candidate to express a preference, McCain emerged the favorite among those who did.

Rural Filipinos preferred McCain to Obama by nearly 3-to-1, while urban Filipinos split their choices.


In the balance of Luzon (which excludes NCR) and in Mindanao, residents preferred McCain by roughly 2-to-1, while he enjoyed only a slight lead in Visayas. The Gallup Poll finds that NCR residents not only preferred Obama, but were also more likely than those in other regions to express an opinion. This finding for Obama is consistent with results from a BBC World Service poll that surveyed Filipinos solely in NCR in July and August this year.


McCain's eight-percentage-point advantage over Obama in the Philippines bucks the trend observed in most countries, but it is difficult to discern why he garnered more support outside Manila. Both men have ties to the Philippines that may trigger name recognition, but McCain possibly could be benefiting more from Filipinos' warm feelings toward the current Republican leadership of the United States -- unlike many other populations around the globe, most residents (66%) approve of U.S. leadership.

Election Outcome Matters

The high percentages of Filipinos without a preference for Obama or McCain do not translate into disinterest in the outcome of the U.S. election. Nearly half of Filipinos (49%) told Gallup that they think who is elected makes a difference to the Philippines. Looking at Filipinos who said the election outcome makes a difference to their country, McCain continued to hold a slight edge, with 35% choosing McCain, 29% choosing Obama, and 36% expressing no preference.


The Philippines and the United States share strong historical ties and maintain close bilateral relations, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seeks to further expand. The United States has also traditionally been the Philippines' largest source of foreign investment and is one of its largest trade partners, so Filipinos have a vested interest in the next U.S. president's policy toward their country and their economic and diplomatic partners closer to home.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults in the Philippines, aged 15 and older, conducted May 20-26, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030