The biggest piece of news from our August poll is the relatively large number of undecided voters 3 months away from Election Day. The 20% of voters who remain undecided will effectively decide the outcome of the election depend on which way the majority of them break. Here’s why they matter and how our model responded to it.
- Every incumbent president wants to go into re-election with at least 50% support in polls. The reason for this is that a good performance during the first term should work to attract additional support on top of the incumbent party’s core base.
- The implication then for an incumbent to sit at less than 50% of the support in polls is that a majority of voters are not yet sold on that incumbent’s performance. This should worry the NPP as our August poll showed Nana Addo taking the lead with 46.6%.
- The large number of undecided voters coupled with the 8.6% who say they are voting for a 3rd party or independent suggests that the NPP still has a lot of work to do to convince voters Nana Addo deserves a second term.
- On the flip side though, 46.6% is not a bad place to be three months out from the election. The party has a much shorter route to a majority in support. For the NDC though, our poll spells trouble.
- The fact that John Mahama received only 24% support in the poll but 20% of voters remain undecided suggests a lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy. If 20% of voters are unsure as to who to support then it implies John Mahama and the NDC are not being very effective at giving those voters a reason to back him over Nana Addo.
- Additionally the 8.6% who have decided not to support either the NDC or NPP should not be dismissed. That’s a bigger number than we expected and it adds to the overall uncertainty with this year’s election.
- This is why our latest forecast update saw a huge swing in the chance of a run-off happening in the first round. Basically, the more uncertainty there is in the polls the more our model thinks a run-off could happen.
- The 20% of undecided voters plus the 8.6% voicing support for 3rd parties or independents suggests that the race is far from decided. Depending on how those undecided voters break, we could see Nana Addo win by an even bigger margin than 2016 or we can see John Mahama pull off the ultimate upset.
- That said, 94 days is still a long ways to go. As we get closer to the election, we expect the share of undecided voters to drop as more and more people finally decide on a candidate. As to the 8.6% who’ve decided to support a 3rd party or independent, it remains to be seen if Nana Addo or Mahama can change their minds. Or perhaps this is the year we see something really unusual happen with the 3rd party.
- Who knows? Hassan Ayariga’s APC might yet surprise us all.