Before the Covid-19 outbreak in Ghana, the December elections were going to be historic in one sense: a rematch between a one-term former president and the sitting incumbent. Now, with more than 6,800 cases in Ghana the Covid-19 outbreak adds an extra layer of complexity to the big showdown later in the year. 

Here’s why:

  • The obvious starting point when looking at effects of a pandemic on national elections is the expected voter turnout. 

  • Even with lockdown restrictions lifted, and the rate of spread beginning to flatten more than 6 months ahead of the polls, one can expect most voters to still remain skittish about queueing up for hours to cast a vote. 

  • Indeed, one of the anomalies of the 2016 elections was the unexpected drop in voter turnout. More than 1 million fewer people voted in 2016 than should have, had turnout levels matched that of the 2012 elections. 

  • So who benefits the most from a drop in turnout in 2020? It’s a bit early to say, being more than 6 months out from the election but it will depend on which specific areas see the largest drops in turnout. 

  • One of the most notable features of the NDC’s loss in 2016 was the massive drop in voter turnout in the party’s strongholds. 

  • From our recap of the 2016 elections, the NDC saw a more than 20% drop in turn out in 2 of their strongest regions: Volta (-24.98%) and Northern (-27.76%). 

  • And per our Regional Partisan Lean, some regions are strongholds of either party while others are swing regions with slight advantages for one party over the other. 

  • Ultimately, one way Covid-19 will shape the outcome of the elections will come down to which areas see the biggest drops in support. 

  • In part 2 of this series we look at the impact of Covid-19 through the lens of economics.
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