New Survey confirms Buhari is Set to Win Presidential Election


The factors that underline why Buhari will likely win
This new survey reinforces our earlier position that the real story of the 2015 elections will not be so much about the scale of the likely victory in the presidential elections by Buhari, but about Goodluck Jonathan’s catastrophic loss of the 2011 coalition that propelled him to office. While the pool of swing voters in our earlier survey was as high as 23%, that number has now reduced to less than 5%. The last 6 weeks have been abysmal for Goodluck Jonathan’s electoral fortunes, as our results indicate that as many as 10 million largely undecided voters – about 23% of the participating electorate – have consolidated firmly behind Muhammadu Buhari.

As we earlier indicated, the most crippling statistic for Goodluck Jonathan is that about 65% of the respondents who voted for him in 2011 have indicated they will be voting for the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 elections (see Figure 2). In contrast, Muhammadu Buhari will retain a staggering 99% of those who voted for him in 2011 (Figure 3), and further build on his voter tally by taking on about 66% of the voters who supported Jonathan in the 2011 elections but have chosen to switch to Buhari in the 2015 polls.

The disaffection with Jonathan is deep and pervasive...

Although 55% of all respondents indicated that they voted for Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, only about 18% of respondents either strongly approved or approved of the job that he is doing as president (Figure 4).

When the reasons for candidates preferences are analyzed, the (anti)corruption stance of the candidate, is the primary driver of voter behavior (see Figure 5). This is despite the fact that corruption continued to rank 5th amongst the key issues of concern to Nigerians (see Figure 6) – behind issues such as security, economic growth, jobs creation and power. It is not clear to us whether the issue of corruption was conflated by respondents to be an all-encompassing issue that affects other key areas of voter concern. This would be the case if respondents believed that the security challenges and the inability of the Nigerian military to effectively contain the Boko Haram crisis are linked with corruption.

Similar sentiments that might blame lax economic growth on corruption and embezzlement of funds, could also potentially explain why corruption is taking on a central role in this electoral cycle. While the underpinning factors that have made corruption the primary driver of the 2015 elections are not very clear, the fact is that majority of voters (59%) are making their choice for president based on the corruption standing of the candidates, with a larger number of them (58% of all voters) selecting Muhammadu Buhari as the clear anti-corruption champion compared to 0.8% for Jonathan. These numbers are a significant boon for Muhammadu Buhari. It appears that events in the last 6 weeks have further cemented in the minds of voters, their perception that Jonathan and the government he leads is corrupt.

In trying to understand the factors responsible for Muhammadu Buhari’s surge in acceptability and favorability, we continue to see two critical demographic insights worth considering, and these have to do with religion and gender. Muhammadu Buhari has solidified his lead amongst women voters with about 67% of the female vote and retains a dominant lead amongst male voters with about 85% of the male vote (see Figure 7).

In a clear reversal of the 2011 polling results, Muhammadu Buhari also leads Jonathan amongst Christian voters (72% vs 28% for Jonathan – see Figure 8), while he has a staggering 96% advantage over Jonathan amongst Muslim respondents (98% vs 2% - see Figure 8). The major reversal of fortunes for Jonathan will be better appreciated when the fact is considered that within this respondent pool, Jonathan won 76% of the Christian vote and 28% of the Muslim vote in 2011.

The survey results clearly demonstrate the remarkable erosion of Jonathan’s support base amongst Christian voters, and the massive decline in his showing amongst Muslim voters compared to his 2011 tally. We continue to believe that the remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of Mr. Buhari among Christian voters can probably be best explained by the dampening role that Osinbajo’s choice as the Vice Presidential pick and the perceived support that Osinbajo’s candidacy has from Pastor Adeboye, has made on Jonathan’s erstwhile strong standing amongst Christian voters. While this religious vote swing is real, we wish to point out that when we posed the question regarding the impact that the choice of Vice Presidential candidate had on their voting preference, respondents indicated that it was not a strong factor in their decision making.

When we analyzed the preference data based on the age of respondents, Muhammadu Buhari led in all age categories. In our previous survey, Jonathan had a strong lead amongst voters under 24 years old.

While the story might seem generally positive for Buhari and the APC, the survey results however reveal some deep issues that voters have with both candidates and parties. Nigerians do not view Buhari or the APC as being particularly strong on the economy and in job creation – which are amongst the top priorities of voters (see Figures 5 and 6). Should our results be validated and Buhari and the APC triumph at the polls, they can expect a short honey moon period, as voters will very quickly begin to expect to see results in the key areas of major concern - ending the Boko Haram insurgency, driving economic growth, tackling unemployment & job creation, and solving the lingering power crisis. Buhari’s mandate – if he wins, will not be to wage a war on corruption to the exclusion of the actual issues that matter to voters. He and his party will have to deliver on other cogent issues.

Projected Outcomes
The survey emphatically confirmed that Muhammadu Buhari is on track to win the 2015 Presidential elections with about 32.3 million total votes (see Figure 1), while Goodluck Jonathan will obtain about 7.7 million votes. The combined tally for the two candidates will average about 40 million votes. We have maintained our assumption that the voter turnout will be about 58.1%, which is the average of the voter turnout percentages obtained in the last 4 elections held in the 4th republic (53.7% in 2011, 57.5% in 2007, 69.1% in 2003 and 52.3% in 1999).

Based on the survey results, we predict that Goodluck Jonathan is unlikely to win outright in any geo-political zone. While we reported in our last survey that Jonathan would win the South East (65%) and South South (71%) geo-political zones, the new survey results indicate that he will likely lose to Buhari in the two regions winning only about 42% of the votes in the South East and 38% in his own region, the South South. We project that Muhammadu Buhari is on track to win in the North East (83% of the votes, confidence interval 95±12%), North West (95% of the votes, confidence interval 95±8%), North Central (82% of the votes, confidence interval 95±6%), South West (86% of the votes, confidence interval 95±5%), South East (58% of the votes, confidence interval 95±15%) and South South (62% of the votes, confidence interval 95±9%).

Given the significant margins of victory that the analysis projected for Buhari, we were concerned that the sample population might have been skewed towards Buhari supporters. Although this was highly unlikely given that the respondents were randomly solicited from all over Nigeria, we decided to undertake two further tests on the sample population. Firstly, we reviewed the proportion of respondents who indicated that they had voted for Jonathan and Buhari in the 2011 elections, and compared the voter percentages to the reported INEC figures for the outcome of the 2011 elections. 55% of the respondents in this current survey indicated that they had voted for Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 elections. This is slightly lower than the official INEC voter count from the 2011 elections, which indicated that Jonathan won that race with 61% of the popular vote. 45% of the respondents indicated that they had voted for Buhari in the 2011 elections, versus 33% from the official INEC figures. These results indicated that majority of our respondents had voted for Jonathan in 2011. What this also means in essence is that a survey of this nature would have accurately predicted the outcome of the 2011 presidential race.

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