Ghanaians are expected to vote massively for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to maintain power because of its human-centred and policy-based programmes that have direct impact on their lives, a research by the University of Ghana (UG) Political Science Department has predicted.
The survey, conducted between November 12 and November 22, 2020, less than a month to the general elections, put President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at 51.7%, while the biggest opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by former President John Mahama, who is staging a comeback, came second with 40.4%.
In 2016, the same UG research team predicted that then opposition NPP would record 49.9%, while the then incumbent NDC, now opposition, was going to have approval rating of 39.9%.
In the official results declared by the Electoral Commission (EC) headed by Mrs. Charlotte Osei, candidate Akufo-Addo of the NPP secured 53.7% to win one touch, rendering then incumbent President Mahama a one-term leader with 44.4%.
In the current 2020 report, the UG survey is predicting that the newly formed Ghana Union Movement (GUM) led by Andrew Kwabena Andrews, aka Osofo Kyiri Abosom, will pull a surprise with 1.4% of the votes to place third.
In 2016, the same report had put the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), then led by Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom at 5%, while the Convention People’s Party (CPP) led by Ivor Kobina Greenstreet was likely to receive 1.7%, the National Democratic Party (NDP) led by former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings at 1.7%, and 0.2% for Dr. Edward Mahama of the PNC.
The research, as part of the yearly mandate of the department, was done across 2,000 randomly selected polling stations in 63 randomly selected constituencies won by the NPP and 37 randomly selected constituencies won by the NDC, with a total of 12,000 respondents.
A senior lecturer at the Political Science Department, Alex K. D. Frimpong, who made the findings of the research known yesterday at the University of Ghana campus in Legon, said the voters did not place much emphasis on corruption, but policies that would change their lives.
According to the senior lecturer, management of the economy, education, employment and manifesto promises of parties were top priorities for the voters.
“In this year’s elections, the most salient issue voters will consider before casting their votes for a presidential candidate is the kind of campaign message he/she carries across to the electorate (53.8%). Only a minority is prepared to vote based on partisan consideration (27.2%) and trust worthiness (11.1%),” the senior lecturer quoted from the report.
He said “for those whose votes for a candidate would be based on sound campaign message, their preferred choice of presidential candidate is the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo (52.5%), followed by NDC’s John Mahama (40.9%), then GUM’s Christian Kwabena Andrew (1.3%), but 3.7% have not decided on any of the candidates yet.”
“When respondents were stretched to indicate the presidential candidate they would vote for in the December 7 elections, 51.7% declared for Akufo-Addo, 40.4% favoured John Mahama and 1.4% would vote for Christian Kwabena Andrews, and the undecided are 3.7%,” he said, adding “these voters have taken a firm decision to vote for these candidates in the election. When pushed to indicate how sure they were with the decision to vote for the candidates, a whopping 80.9% said they were extremely/very sure while 11.9% were relatively (somewhat sure) of voting for their candidate.”
“Unlike in previous elections when voters were keen on issues about corruption and ‘dumsor’, in this election, corruption was not a critical issue that would influence voters’ choices at the polls. It must be pointed out that while voters voting decision revolves around campaign messages and policies of the future government, these were issues that bother on the economy – such as employment and improvement in living standards,” the senior lecturer said.
He said 62.2% of the respondents praised the NPP government for being forward looking by implementing the Free Senior High School (FSHS) which had come to benefit majority of Ghanaians.
According to the senior lecturer, Free SHS policy also boosted the chances of the ruling party being retained in power.
“Therefore, it can be argued that this election is solely contested on policy-based issues. In this election, the economic issues have been framed around tangible and implementable policies. For the Ghanaian voters, their choice is for the candidate who has the capacity to carry through with transformational policies. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when 62.2% of voters said the Free Senior High School programme offered hope to their future aspirations,” the senior lecturer said.
He said the respondents also praised the government for the way it handled the Covid-19 pandemic in the country for it to be effectively contained.
The senior lecturer explained that 49% of the respondents endorsed the NPP’s manifesto while 43% also endorsed the NDC’s manifesto, saying, “The two most prominent parties, namely the NPP and NDC, have used campaign manifestos to engage the voters to indicate that the election is not about personalities nor ethnic affinity and morality but rather, critical issues/programmes/future policies that have the capacity to bring changes in the voters’ living conditions.
“To this end, the voters examined the contents of the manifestos of both parties. For 36.9% of the voters, the NDC can bring about the needed change in the lives of Ghanaians, while 49.4% believed that it was the NPP manifesto that had the transforming capacity.”
Don’t Rubbish Findings
A former head of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Prof. Emmanuel Debrah, warned all political parties and their activists not to underestimate the findings of the research by the department.
He said anytime the department did research on elections, those who felt bitter about it tried to bastardize the department and those who worked there.
According to him, the department did similar research prior to the 2016 general elections, but those who worked there were bastardized for doing ‘politically motivated’ research, stressing that the results of the 2016 general elections accurately reflected the findings of their research.
“We are lecturers and our mandate is to teach and conduct research using empirical methodology that can be scientifically proven. We don’t sit in the comfort of our offices and conjure figures, but go to the field to collect the data using proven methodology,” he said, stressing that those who are “doubting Thomases” can come for free tutorials at the department.
In 2016, one of the lead researchers, Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah, was threatened with death by NDC elements after he spoke on radio explaining how they gathered their qualitative and quantitative data to make their conclusions.