Summary of Results: We earlier reported on the outcome of a comprehensive electoral survey on the Nigerian presidential elections initially slated for February 14th. The elections were then subsequently postponed for a 6 week period, and rescheduled for March 28th, 2015. Given the significant political events that have transpired since the release of our last survey results, we recognized that there was a strong possibility that voter preferences could have shifted in the intervening period. We therefore conducted a new survey that was intended to understand whether there had been any shifts in the presidential preferences of Nigerians within the intervening period.
The new survey was conducted from March 14th to March 25th. The Survey Platform utilized was Survey MonkeyTM. A detailed overview of the survey methodology is described at the end of this paper. The survey questionnaire comprised of 42 questions covering the following topics: (a) demographic questions covering gender, educational attainment, income, region of origin, place of domicile and location at which voter’s registration was done (b) 2011 electoral choices (c) 2015 voting intent (d) respondents’ political views and (e) motivating factors for the choice of Presidential candidate.
As with our earlier survey analysis, we reiterate that a critical challenge that an online-based poll offers is the possibility that results can be skewed due to an over-representation of respondents from certain regions in the sample population. This potential bias can be controlled for, by analyzing the results on a regional basis using the regions where respondents registered for their voter cards as the filter.
Given that the detailed 42 item survey allowed us to establish the region in which respondents registered to vote, and by extension where they would be voting, it was possible to develop a detailed profile of voting behavior by region. This enabled us to develop insights into the likely scenarios that will evolve by region, allowing us to ensure that a high response in certain parts of the country did not unduly skew the predicted outcomes. Our ability to evaluate voter behavior on a regional basis also allowed the determination of the potential impact that low voter turnout or outright vote cancellation in the North Eastern part of the country might have on electoral outcomes. All analyses relevant to the elections were carried out only with respondents that were domiciled in Nigeria, have voter cards and indicated that they would be voting in the 2015 elections. The different sample sizes of respondents from the various regions implied that the associated confidence interval for the various regions were different.
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.
Secondly, we also reviewed the voting choices of Jonathan’s 2011 supporters across all regions to understand how their choices in 2015 were impacting the presidential race. Only 34% of respondents who had voted for Jonathan in 2011 indicated that they will be voting for him again in 2015, while the remaining 66% indicated they would be voting for Buhari in the 2015 elections. If 66% of the 22,495,187 (14,846,823) are added to the 12,214,853 votes that Buhari obtained in 2011, the potential Buhari votes would be about 27 million before bringing to the table the 2.1 million votes for Nuhu Ribadu that are now at play, and the slightly higher voter turnout that is expected in 2015. These triangulations enabled a clear picture to begin to emerge on how Buhari could plausibly win the 2015 elections by significant margins.
While a lot of progress has been made in tackling the Boko Haram crisis in the last 5 weeks, we still proceeded to evaluate what the electoral outcomes would be if the lingering Boko Haram crisis in the North East prevented elections from holding in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (the BAY States). Our analysis suggests that the complete exclusion of the BAY states from the electoral tally will still result in a victory for Muhammadu Buhari. In the event that voting will not be able to hold in the BAY states, the total expected votes from the North East will reduce from about 5.3 million to 2.6 million votes and the projected national tally will be 30.1 million votes for Muhammadu Buhari versus about 7.2 million votes for Goodluck Jonathan. In either scenario, Buhari will likely win the presidential elections with a convincing majority of the total votes cast.
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.
National Assembly Elections – Why the APC Will Likely Take Over the National Assembly
While about 98% of likely 2015 voters indicated that they would participate in the Presidential elections (see Figure 10), only 55% stated an intention to participate in the National Assembly elections. However, given that both elections will hold on the same day (March 28th), the expected strong showing of the Presidential candidate of the APC and the broad national sentiment in favor of the APC (see Figure 11), it can be reasonably expected that the APC will sweep the National Assembly elections as well. We however do not have any data to predict what the regional breakout of the votes for the National Assembly will be.
When we analyzed the data to determine whether the supporters for either candidate intended to vote in the National Assembly elections, the data indicated that about 84% of voters that intend to participate in the National Assembly elections are those who will be voting for Buhari (see Figure 12). We maintain our prediction that Nigeria will likely see a Presidential and parliamentary sweep by the APC.
Majority of the respondents utilized in this survey were reached using the Facebook Ads feature. The target audience was set to Nigerian-based users of Facebook, ages 18 and older. 375,016 unique individuals were reached through this medium, with 12,296 people taking action (click through) which resulted in 1,304 completed survey responses. We also collected an additional 82 responses via e-mail solicitations.
As at the time of completing the analysis discussed in this paper, a total of 1,386 complete responses were obtained. Of these, 1,188 of the respondents were domiciled in Nigeria. 1,088 of the Nigeria based respondents indicated that they had voter cards with 1,032 of them indicating that they intended to vote in the 2015 elections. We utilized only this subset of likely voters in the analysis. Based on the official number of 68.8 million registered voters in Nigeria, this number of intended voters will provide predictive outcomes with an estimated confidence level and interval of 95 ± 3%.
Potential Shortcomings of the Survey
As with any online based survey, there is a possibility for bias towards candidates whose supporters might have a broader affinity for technology, or more access to technology due to wealth. We did not find any inherent affinity for Muhammadu Buhari or Goodluck Jonathan in our sample population. Our review of respondents’ polling preferences in the 2011 elections and our region corrected results indicated that 55% of respondents had voted for Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
Our results will at best under-represent, and at worst completely fail to capture the prevailing views and sentiments of populations in the various regions who do not have access to electronic mail or the internet.
In the last 6 weeks, there has been a lot of movement in the preferences of voters, much of it favorable to the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. While both the Buhari and Jonathan campaigns have embarked on activities that were intended to enhance the fortunes of their candidates, our results indicate that the events of the last 6 weeks have further burnished the anticorruption credentials of Buhari.
There is also the possibility that although a candidate’s supporters might not have been excited enough about their candidate to agree to fill out a 42 item questionnaire, they will still participate in the elections.
Key observations by the numbers
10% of respondents are unemployed, 38% are self-employed, while 52% indicated that they currently work for an employer
25.2% of respondents believe Nigerians are united
76% of Nigerians believe that Tribalism is the reason for the lack of unity, while 54% believe that the lack of unity is driven by religious differences
87% of respondents believe Nigeria should remain as a united country
21.3% of respondents registered to vote in their places of origin
73% believe the 2015 elections will be free and fair
82% of respondents disapprove of the work Jonathan is doing as President
78% of respondents have already received their voter cards
16% of respondents earn less than N30,000 per month
The 2015 National Electoral Poll was not commissioned by any political party, or vested organizations and/or individuals in the Nigerian political process. Dr Malcolm Fabiyi holds a BSc (First class) degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, an MBA from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University. Dr Adeleke Otunuga holds Bachelors (Philosophy) and Masters Degrees (IRPM) from the University of Lagos, and a Doctor of Management degree (Organizational Leadership) from the University of Phoenix. Both authors have previously written public articles in support of Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy. However, this paper was compiled based exclusively on data received from respondents obtained by random sampling. As with our earlier survey, we commit to providing raw data values from this survey to genuine academically motivated requests. Any inquiries regarding the survey should be directed to [email protected].