Dr John Osae-Kwapong, Ransford Brobbey
Dr John Osae-Kwapong, Ransford Brobbey
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Opinion polls wake-up call for parties — Political scientists

Last Wednesday’s baseline survey released by Professor Smart Sarpong of the Kumasi Technical University has elicited mixed reactions, with two political scientists stating that the outcome of the 2024 elections is far from decided, given the numbers of undecided voters as contained in different polls.

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One other said it called for deeper strategies among the political parties, while another said it should be a wake-up call for political parties and candidates interested in winning the upcoming elections to pay keen attention to and proffer practical solutions to the gaping youth unemployment crisis in the country.

The baseline survey report highlighted the strengths of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as a party, and Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, as a candidate for the 2024 general election.

It stated that Dr Bawumia led as the preferred presidential candidate for the 2024 elections, although the NDC remained the preferred party for the majority of the voter population.
The survey was conducted in April 2024.

Key signals

Dr John Osae-Kwapong said the size of the undecided voters — a total of 23 per cent — pointed to the fact that there was still a sizable number of voters up for grabs. “I have regularly argued that given the economic challenges faced under this administration and other governance issues, the political winds are blowing favourably in the direction of the NDC.

“While there is still validity to this assertion, the report is signalling that the election is not won yet,” he stated. Dr Osae-Kwapong said what the polls meant was that the NDC was a stronger selling point than its candidate, while the NPP’s candidate was a stronger selling point than the party.

He said the issue of unemployment emerged as the number one most important challenge. “This reinforces what the Global Info Analytics poll (April 2024) found in its study which also showed jobs as the top issue for voters,” he said.

“The Global Info Analytics poll (April 2024), for example, found corruption to be ranked sixth out of 15 issues,” he said. 

NDC/NPP

Ransford Brobbey said all polls led to the same road; either a win for the NDC or NPP, as the current democratic dispensation had adopted and adapted to the duopoly as existed in established partisan democracies such as the US and the UK.

He said between the popularity of parties, there existed a gap of 26.7 per cent, while a gap of 25 per cent existed in the popularity of candidates among the two major parties.  “This is a ripe harvest that any of the other political parties can reap, provided it (the party) will be strategic with its campaign and mobilisation,” he said.

Mr Brobbey said while the polls might not guarantee a win in the presidential elections, “if it should transition into parliamentary seats, it is certain to offset the balance of power in the legislature”.

He asked the minor parties to analyse the poll results to identify constituencies that were ripe for harvest and focus their limited resources to win those seats, adding that a total of 70 seats could go to the formidable third force.

Dr Samuel Kofi Darkwa, a political scientist and a regular columnist of the Daily Graphic, said the survey results indicated that a majority of respondents were leaning towards voting for NDC parliamentary candidates (38.8 per cent) rather than their NPP counterparts (34.5 per cent), although their choice for a presidential candidate was the opposite.

“Another important thing to note is that religion and ethnicity are not significant to voters,” he said, adding that the results suggested that “the decided voters largely align with specific parties, while the undecided segment represents crucial swing voters”.

“Given that more than 20 per cent of respondents are undecided for both the presidential and parliamentary races, the decisions of these voters will significantly impact the election outcome,” he said.

Intriguing issues

A Political Science lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, Gilbert Ahinful Aidoo, said that but for a few highlights from the study he considered intriguing and worth discussing, “most of the issues flagged are mundane”.

“For example, the two-horse race between the NPP and the NDC, which has characterised most of the Fourth Republic, according to this report, will be replayed in the 2024 polls.

“Also worthy of note is the fact that the majority of the participants in the survey were youthful (aged 18-35 constituted 57 per cent), and this explains why unemployment and livelihood concerns came up strongly as the most important factor that may influence the outcome of the 2024 presidential elections,” he said. 

Political parties

The opposition NDC and the governing NPP have since expressed divergent views on the survey report. The NDC said it lacked credibility, while the NPP claimed it represented the reality on the ground.

“As much as the NDC supports and respects scholarly, non-partial, non-political influence work, it does not recognise this research as a true reflection of the state of affairs on the ground,” the NDC said.

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Responding to the survey report, a Deputy General Secretary of the party, Mustapha Gbande, said: “It is an NPP-sponsored and an outcome-induced research”. “How does that save collapsing businesses and how does the research help recover capital as a result of the challenges with the economy and our currency?” he further asked.

Mr Gbande said: “In the case of the NDC, our popularity is as a result of a track record in good governance”, adding that “in the case of our flag bearer, John Dramani Mahama, his credibility speaks for itself”.

‘Not surprising’

A Deputy National Communications Director of the NPP, George Krobea Asante, said the outcome of the survey was not a surprise to the party. “Indeed, the outcome of the survey, which puts Dr Mahamudu Bawumia ahead of John Mahama, is a true reflection of the realities on the ground,” he said.

“It is important to point out that the survey was conducted before the recent regional tours of Dr Bawumia. “In fact, the respondents based their responses on the speech delivered by the Vice-President when he hosted a programme at the University of Professional Studies, Accra, on February 7, 2024.

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“The about 70 bold solutions he articulated at the event have given Ghanaians the hope that with Bawumia in the driving seat, Ghana would be better off than (with) the former President whose reign brought nothing but hardships to the masses even though there were no major global challenges like we have faced.

“Bawumia inspires hope, courage, confidence and the willpower to lead this country to a destination more enviable to our peers on the continent.

Meanwhile, the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), in a statement signed and issued by its Communications Director, Felix Mantey, said the party had taken notice of the survey research findings published by Prof. Sarpong.

“The party is unfazed by the outcome of the findings of the supposed research due to its serious biases, and the subjective views of the researcher. We thus reject the findings because its conclusions are a fallacy,” the statement said.

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The party urged Ghanaians not to place any value on it because it is one of the propagandas to be deployed going forward into the 2024 elections by the ruling government. “The findings are not a true representation of the reality of how the Ghanaian will vote in the 2024 elections because the researcher failed to include all political parties such as the PPP in its indicative variables.

“Second, the background of the researcher, which is well known by the public as a member of the ruling NPP, increases the suspicion of his biases in the research. This is unethical in all serious research activity, and it renders the findings problematic,” the statement said.

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