Here at Vote233, we are big believers in the concept of ‘Swing Regions’ versus ‘Strongholds’. This notion that some regions are reliable predictable while others aren’t (when it comes to elections), is deeply baked into our elections forecast model. You can think of it as the backbone of our historic model. While we’ve written a fair bit about the concept, in this piece, we look ahead past the 2020 elections to see which regions might need to be reclassified.
- Before the 2018 referendum, there were 4 regions that were reliably swing: Brong Ahafo, Central, Greater Accra and Western.
- The NDC counted all 3 northern regions as reliable strongholds (in addition to Volta), while the NPP looked to the Ashanti and Eastern Regions for much of their support.
- However, if you looked closely enough at electoral trends you start to see how voting dynamics within the various regions were starting to shift. Fast forward to 2020, and we have another election but this time around there are 6 new regions that have been carved out of the pre-existing 10: Ahafo, Bono East, North East, Oti, Savannah and Western North.
- Let’s start with the existing strongholds: for the foreseeable future, we do not anticipate Ashanti or Eastern flipping over to the NDC, nor Volta flipping over to the NPP. But if there is to be a major shift among the set of strongholds, expect it to be the Northern Region potentially becoming a swing region.
- In 2016, we forecasted a scenario in which the NPP wins by clinching about 40% of the votes in the Northern Region. Frankly, we did not expect it to happen then as it was just a remote possibility in our forecast. Nana Addo went on to win 42.3% of the votes in the region. In 2012, the NPP won 39.1% of the votes in the region. Four years earlier, the party had won 37.8% of the votes.
- If the trend continues, the Northern Region will become more and more competitive. Granted we do not expect the NPP to suddenly flip the region in 2020. Our forecast model gives John Mahama an 83% chance of winning the region as of this writing, although that’s the lowest chance for the NDC in all of their stronghold regions.
- We expect the NDC to win the Northern Region again this year but can the NPP clinch the magical 45% of votes cast, which will effectively make the region a Swing region? Or is this the year that the NDC reverses the NPP’s steady gains in the region?
- Another region with a strong potential to switch categories is the Western Region. Prior to the 2018 referendum, the Western Region was a decidedly swing region. Today, Western North looks more like an NDC stronghold while what remains as the Western Region looks likely to become to an NPP stronghold.
- Our forecast model currently gives Nana Addo a 70.2% chance of winning the region. If the NPP is able to win more than 55% of the votes in the region this year, that might be enough to tip it over into the stronghold column.
- In part 2 of this series, we turn our attention to Ahafo, Bono and North East regions.