On April 20, survey firm D’Strafford Inc. released a non-commissioned presidential pre-electoral survey that showed Roxas and Poe statistically tied at the top spot [Sun.Star]. Netizens were shocked, especially since the results do not match those of well-known survey firms Pulse Asia and SWS, where Roxas consistently ranked either 3rd or 4th among the five presidentiables.
In her blog “RoRo and that Funny Survey” at indayvarona.com, veteran journalist and ABS-CBN columnist Inday Espina-Varona did a background check on survey firm D’Strafford Inc. Espina-Varona cited observed some weird things about the said survey company, such as a skeletal website and non-functioning company phone numbers.
What’s most disturbing, however, is Espina-Varona’s discovery that there are no statisticians among the firm’s officers, etc. That’s just like putting up a hospital with no doctors. It sounds absurd as it is, but for now, let’s give D’Strafford the benefit of the doubt.
Netizens also found out that the firm borrowed i’s entire website template from a Chicago-based company (http://www.omotoshocpa.net). Unlike D’ Stafford, Omotosho and Associates details a range of services.
Further, in an article at Abante.com, it mentioned John Stevenson as D’Strafford’s survey director. A Google search on the name shows John Stevenson, a UK politician. His photo is the same photo used by Abante.
Let’s do a bit more sleuthing.
D’Strafford’s Company Officers
In response to allegations of conducting a bogus survey, D’Strafford Executive Director JM Balancar said, “We welcome everyone for any questions and clarifications (regarding the survey) [Sun.Star]”.
Out of curiosity, a quick Google search on JM Balancar was done with the following parameters:
• Search term is “JM Balancar –indayvarona.com”. The “-indayvarona.com” was added to exclude pages from IndayVarona.com, as that website uses faulty timestamps, probably due to obsolete HMTL coding.
• Timestamps are important because the search is for pages published before 01 April 2016, i.e. before D’Strafford sprouted from nowhere.
Google returned seven pages worth of search results. A screencap of the search engine results’ first page is shown below:
The first entry, from SunStar, is a dud: it was a about PNoy receiving foreign diplomats. Meanwhile, all the other entries in all the seven pages have nothing to do with a “JM Balancar.” That is, there is zero mention of JM Balancar on the web before April 2016.
No survey company head worth his salt has zero online presence.
SunStar Manila also mentioned D’Strafford in-house consultant Ralph Fuentes, whatever that job title means. Again, no online presence.
The D’Strafford Website
D’Strafford claims to be a well-established survey company with years of experience, so an effort was made to find evidence of this claim by doing another Google search on D’Strafford with the following parameters:
• Search term is “D’Strafford –indayvarona.com”
• Searching for posts published before 01 April 2016
The only relevant entry is the first: D’Strafford’s company website, with a time stamp of 03 December 2005. Hence, the logical question is:
Was their site created on or before 03 December 2005?
We can check this claim by taking a look D’Strafford’s official ICANN domain registration records:
BRIEF: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that is responsible for overseeing online domain registrations.
“Dstrafford.com” domain registration records show [ICANN WHOIS]:
That is, Dstrafford.com’s site was first registered on 14 April 2016. Yes, just barely over two weeks ago.
D’Strafford on Twitter
It was said that this survey firm actually has a Twitter account [@DStraffordInc]. It was discovered that D’Strafford’s first-ever tweet was on 21 April 2016. Yes, D’Strafford has never tweeted anything else before that.
But things get more interesting. As of 9:00 AM 03 May 2016, D’Strafford’s Twitter account follows only 17 people and it has only 30 followers.
That already sounds fishy, but taking a closer look at the accounts they follow show an even more revealing story.
Of the 17 people they follow, 10 of them are obviously aligned with the Liberal Party, and the first account they followed was the official twitter account of LP presidential bet Mar Roxas. D’Strafford does not follow the account of presidential bets Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Jejomar Binay, and Rodrigo Duterte.
The other seven accounts that D’Strafford follows are: 1. Ramon Santos (@ramonsantos0629), 2. Jeff Zombie (@jeffzombie2000), 3. Xian Andre (@xianandrei2), 4. Professional Hecker (@hecklerforever), 5. Kaecee Alvarez (@kaeceealvarez), 6. CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk), 7. Rappler (@rapplerdotcom)
Ramon Santos, Jeff Zombie, Xian Andre appear to be D’Strafford’s twitter bots, or accounts that are managed by a program that automatically retweets D’Strafford’s tweets.
Kaecee Alvarez’ twitter feed also suggests that she’s LP aligned too. One of her tweets is shown below:
The Professional Heckler is a political satirist, so let’s just consider him neutral. The last two — CNN and Rappler — are news agencies, so they also count as neutral. In short, 14 of the 17 accounts that D’Strafford follows are pro-Roxas.
A skeletal website, unreachable company phones and the absence of a statistician among its officers… Espina-Varona’s blog post alone was enough to show that D’Strafford does not only issue bogus survey results: it is a bogus company itself.
And the subsequent discoveries only serve to reinforce that. An executive director who has no online history, a newly created website that pretends to be old, a Twitter account that’s biased in favor of Mar Roxas, there’s no doubt that D’Strafford is a dubious company at best, an LP-funded firm at worst./Thinkingpinoy.net