How many votes can the 'Solid North' deliver?

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Now that Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is running for vice president, his sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, says that his candidacy will be the rebirth of the "Solid North."

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – A bloc vote can be challenging to pull through.

But once in the Philippine history, regional bloc vote like the so-called Solid North has proven it can make or break a politician’s dream to become the highest official of the land.

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), vote-rich regions include Region 4-A (Calabarzon), National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Region 7 (Central Visayas).

None of the regions in the north registered equal when it comes to number of registered voters compared to the mentioned regions.

But congressional canvassing records for previous presidential elections showed that only Ilocanos have successfully bound together regions and provinces in the North to effectively deliver a block vote.

According to records, the Ilocandia region as a whole – Region 1 (Ilocos region), Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) all together – can deliver at least 10% of the total voting population to a candidate.

About 5 million Ilocano votes

The Solid North is composed of three regions:

  • Region 1 or the Ilocos Region, which is composed of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte
  • Region 2 or the Cagayan Valley, which includes Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino
  • Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), composed of Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Baguio, Benguet, Ifugao, and Mountain Province

According to 2013 National Elections Statistics from Comelec, the three regions recorded the following statistics in the last election:

  • Region 1 had 2,865,115 total registered voters with 2,364,308 actual voters and 82.52 percent voter turnout.
  • Region 2 had 1,871,822 registered voters with 1,475,903 actual voters and 78.85 percent voter turnout.
  • CAR has 924,751 registered voters with 718,902 actual voters and 77.74 percent voter turnout.

Elections statistics showed the northern provinces delivered a high voter turnout.

If these provinces could deliver a solid vote, candidates are looking at about 5,661,688 out of 52,014,648 registered voters and 4,559,113 out of 40,214,324 actual votes.

That is about 11 percent of the total number of actual votes in 2013 – a relatively small percentage of the voting population, but an important number to any candidate facing a number of contenders vying for the same position.

Can Solid North make a national candidate win?

After former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., an Ilocano, there was no other politician successful in claiming sole victory in the northern provinces –  not even his wife, Imelda, a Romualdez who hails from Leyte.

When Marcos ran for president in several elections, he had the Solid North backing his bid.

In 1965, Marcos, as a Nacionalista Party (NP) candidate, won by landslide against former President Diosdado Macapagal, a Liberal Party candidate.

In the 1969 elections, Marcos, still an NP, also won against Sergio Osmeña Jr., another LP candidate.

In 1981, Marcos ran under a coalition of NP, LP, and other political parties called Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

He started to get serious criticisms and protests for putting the country under martial law at the time. But Marcos, again, won by landslide in the north against Alejo Santos, another NP member.

In the 1986 snap elections, based on the official tally, Marcos, this time running under the KBL, won against Corazon Aquino of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Aquino was from from Tarlac. Although Tarlaqueños speak Ilocano, Tarlac is not part of the northern bloc.

The north after Marcos

The Final Official Congressional Canvass of Presidential Elections after 1986 showed northern provinces had never delivered a bloc vote again.

In 1992, Imelda Marcos of KBL, Fidel V. Ramos of Lakas, and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) dominated the election results in the northern provinces.

Ramon Mitra Jr. of Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and Miriam Defensor Santiago of People’s Reform Party (PRP) were able to claim victory in some provinces in Cagayan region and in CAR.

Ramos won in the elections.

In 1998, Joseph Ejercito Estrada of Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP) was able to claim victory in the north, gaining more votes than Jose de Venecia Jr. of Lakas ,who hails from Pangasinan and Juan Ponce Enrile who is himself an Ilocano from Cagayan.

Estrada claimed the presidency.

In the controversial 2004 elections that was clouded by "Hello Garci" controversy, Fernando Poe Jr. of Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) from Pangasinan won in the north over Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Poe dominated in Cagayan Valley and in the Ilocos Region, while Arroyo had CAR.

Arroyo defeated Poe in the elections by a small margin.

In 2010, Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) dominated the election results in the north, claiming almost solid victory in Cagayan Valley.

Although Manny Villar of NP won in the Ilocos Region and Benigno Aquino III claimed victory in CAR, Estrada was still able to get a good share of votes in those regions.

Estrada came second to Aquino, who won the first automated national elections.

Now that Sen. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., another Ilocano and the former president's son, is gunning for the second highest position in the land, his sister Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos claimed that Ilocandia would be a Solid North once again.

Related: Gov. Marcos: Bongbong's candidacy will be the rebirth of the Solid North