December 2, 2023

Like all human endeavours, political polls have often gone wrong, especially if decisions about sampling, calculation of the chi square, margin of error etc were not well handled.

Because of this, I do not swear by or put store by pollsters’ results all of the time.

Fact is, they could even be manipulated, with figures cooked to deceive, depending on the interest or biases of the pollster.

In my life I have seen polls figures computed even before sampling was determined.

In the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election in the United States, polls across the country predicted an easy sweep for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Everyone knows what happened.

Donald Trump won.

In that election, Sam Wang, a neuroscience Professor at Princeton University and co-founder of Princeton Election Consortium, which analyses election polling, called the race for Clinton.

He was so confident that he made a bet to eat an insect if Trump won more than 240 electoral votes.

Hilary lost and Wang did what he promised.

Live on CNN, he swallowed a cricket.


Occasionally, even here in Ghana, we have seen polls and pollsters whose predictions have been close to perfect.

Ben Ephson’s claim to fame is through polling not journalism.

There have been many instances when, with or without polls, the results are predictable.

The latest is this year’s National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) presidential primaries: even a Junior High School (JHS) student knew Mahama was way ahead.

This weekend’s super delegates conference of the NPP to determine which five offer themselves at the November 4 primaries seems to be a different kettle of fish.

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There has been a consistency about the predictions since the early part of the year, with the latest putting Bawumia ahead by more than 70 per cent.

Are they to be believed? A year ago, when some UK-based pollsters came out with Bawumia ahead, the Alan Campaign rubbished it, claiming that the polling company did not even exist.

Will Ghana wake up on Sunday morning to a shock? Personally, I wish to God that Kennedy Agyapong, Kwabena Agyepong, Joe Ghartey, and Dr Afriyie Akoto will be among the top five.

They have really been in the trenches and looked the delegates eyeball to eyeball, campaigning on their vision.

Win or lose, Kwabena Agyepong has won respect as a fiery speaker.

Any other candidate who wins ultimately in November should recruit his talent and capabilities as the NPP Spokesperson.

Will Alan be fourth time lucky? Against Akufo-Addo’s 1,096 votes (47.97%) in the 2007 primaries, Alan obtained 32.32 per cent with 738 votes.

The 2010 election was one in which Alan should not have run.

To a man (and woman) the NPP was unanimous behind Akufo-Addo.

It was actually providential that Alan managed 19.91 per cent of the 2,293 votes.

Is it Kyerematen’s turn this year? Will the voters sympathise with him?

In this 2023 campaigning, credit must be given where it is due.

It goes to the Bawumia Campaign.

(Note: I am not saying he will win).

The team has been strategic.

As one of them said on radio sometime in June, they have been campaigning since 2021.

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Evidence of their work is seen in three impressive achievements.

One is their penetration into Ashanti which, until early this year, was widely thought to be 90 per cent Alan.

Two, they have managed to grab attention of the predominantly Christian voter population.

Count the number of times Bawumia has been in and out of Christian churches, starting from Father Campbell’s church.

Of course, some fundamentalist Christians were on social media saying they do not see how Christianity can be said to worship the same God as any other religion that does not believe that God is in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, or believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

But election is marketing, and in marketing, there is nothing wrong with claiming to be more Catholic than the Pope.

Didn’t the sages say that all is fair in love and war?

A third and most significant Bawumia Campaign achievement, at least for the primaries, has been their ability to win the majority of Members of Parliament (MPs) and ministers to their side.

The Bawumia strategists have also succeeded in shooting down (at least, that is what it seems) the “Alan, edru wo so” slogan.


The question, however, is: are all these polls and external showings, so far, a true reflection of what is actually happening among the delegates? Twice, last year and this year, the polls have been unanimous that while “official delegates” will decide for Bawumia, the rank and file of NPP, from Assini through Walawale to Zuarungu, favour Alan as flagbearer.

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This is the NPP conundrum.

It is what is driving the suspicion that November may be significantly different from August.

Will tomorrow ever come?


The writer is Executive Director, Centre for Communication and Culture.

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