Ghana’s 2016 presidential elections was closely contested between Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, with Akufo-Addo emerging winner with 5,755,758 votes while Mahama received 4,771,188 votes.
This marked the first time in the Fourth Republic that an incumbent government had lost the elections in the first round, and with such a huge margin.
This was quite surprising considering the powerful election campaign mounted by the then ruling party while the opposition NPP was struggling to maintain a united front, which was only resolved by changes to two key leadership positions; but with worries of its electoral consequences.
It is against this backdrop that an influential member of the NDC described the outcome of the elections as “very difficult and mysterious to understand.”
What was however, not strange, was the acrimonious debate within the party over what and who to blame for the shocking electoral defeat.
Interestingly, prior to the general election, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), conducted two surveys in July and October, 2016, on what could be the factors deciding the election in a particular party's favour.
The findings of the pre-election surveys, made available to Peacefmonline.com, offers insight into the Mahama-led NDC administration's defeat.
Peacefmonline.com publishes below the CDD-Ghana’s pre-election survey findings which provide "compelling evidence to support the assertion that Ghanaian voters rejected the Mahama-led NDC based on the poor economic record, the lack of public confidence in the party’s campaign policies, the high perception of corruption, and the inward-looking nature of the administration."
"This paper provides analytical filters and baseline indicators for measuring the electoral prospects of incumbent governments and the assessment of election loss by defeated political parties based on the new insights regarding the expectations of Ghanaian voters. Our analysis offers much lessons to the NDC as it prepares for the 2020 elections and for the NPP to consider as the ruling administration," CDD-Ghana concluded.
This study combined quantitative data from two pre-election surveys carried out by CDD-Ghana during the 2016 election year, and qualitative data from media and newspaper content analysis of key campaign issues and discussions by the NDC and the NPP in the run-up to the election.
The CDD-Ghana pre-election surveys were carried out in July and October 2016 respectively and drew from a nationally representative sample of adult citizens.
Respondents were randomly selected, giving every adult citizen of age 18 and above an equal chance of being selected. Each of the surveys had sample size of 2,680 with a margin of error of ±2% at a 95% confidence level. The sample was stratified across regions and urban-rural areas in proportion to their share in the adult national population. Face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondents’ choice were used.
Media evidence was gathered over a period of eight months (March - October) to the 2016 general elections. Dataset on key campaign messages by the presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates and leading party members of both the NDC and the NPP were collected through the daily monitoring of radio discussions, electronic, print and digital media platforms with political content.
The 2016 CDD-Ghana pre-election surveys established that Ghanaians were more focused on issue-based campaigns in the 2016 general elections. The tracking of key campaign issues and citizens’ response therefore became an extremely important measure for ascertaining the success of contending political parties in the polls.
The findings indicate that the NDC had high levels of negative ratings from Ghanaians on the general economic and governance issues that had a strong bearing on the outcome of the 2016 general elections.
Most Ghanaians indicated that the country was going in the wrong direction – which most of the respondents attributed to the performance of the government. The Mahama-led NDC administration was viewed as non-performing in the economic management of the country as regards; controlling inflation, creating jobs, reducing social inequality and improving the living standards of the poor.
It was also perceived to be more corrupt than its competitors and less committed to fighting corruption.
Our analyses also show that a majority of Ghanaians had lost confidence in the NDC’s ability to address their most important problem (unemployment) and, rather, thought another political party could offer the most credible solution to these concerns. Apart from the policy credibility crisis of the NDC, it was also perceived as more inward-looking compared with the NPP.