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Opinion | Dec 5, 2018

Is Mahama’s ‘Overhyped’ Popularity Based On Fact?

Former President Mahama
Former President Mahama

On the 19 of January 2019, if everything goes according to plan, the National Democratic Congress will decide who leads them into the 2020 elections against their stone-age rivals, the NPP.

To many, the former President is just a candidate waiting to be announced.

The argument people make is that the former President is the easiest to sell to the Ghanaian electorate and that changing him is going to put the party in a precarious situation as far as the 2020 elections is concerned.

In this piece, we are going to examine the popularity of the former president and link it to his chances if elected.

Being the former Vice and President for eight years, it is very obvious that every Ghanaian who counts in the decision making process at all levels knows who Mahama is and has an idea about what he can do, cannot do and will not do.

The question is, what kind of popularity guarantees electoral victory and what doesn’t. Does the fact that a person is known all over the country guarantee they’d be trusted to lead the country?

In the 2016 elections, president Mahama polled 44.4% of the total votes, the winner Nana Addo had 53.80%. In all, the difference in figures was Nine Hundred and Ninety Five Thousand Three Hundred and One (995931).

That is by far the worst performance of any sitting president in the history of Ghana and any candidate on the ticket of the NDC since its inception in 1992. It was a resounding vote of no confidence from the Ghanaian people.

To his supporters though, unlike his opponents in the NDC primaries, Mahama has an outstanding 44.4% to build on, the NPP won’t be able to fulfil all their promise so if there is anyone who doesn’t need much marketing to seize power, it must be the man who just lost it.

Now, let’s talk about Mahama’s 44.4%

In the year 2000 when the NDC was defeated for the first time in their history, the then Candidate Mills got 44.80% of the total vote, in 2004, the same candidate managed 44.64%. Add that to the recent 44.4% by Mahama and divide by the three times the party has been defeated in elections and you have an average performance of 44.61% regardless of who is on the ballot paper of the NDC when defeated.

This tells us that the core NDC vote that every candidate on the ticket of the party is guaranteed hoovers around 44.6%, It also means that despite running as a an incumbent seeking a second term, Mahama did less than the average for the NDC whenever their candidate was defeated.

This also means that aside losing the votes of swing voters, Mahama didn’t get the votes of at least 0.2% of the NDC core.

From the above, one can confidently say that anyone placed on the ticket of the NDC starts from at worst 44% and has to work to attract swing voters whose movement from one party to the other makes the difference.

It also means that Mahama got almost nothing outside the core NDC votes in 2016. The 44.45 isn’t a vote he brought to the party, it is the vote the party guaranteed for him, it was his duty as the flag-bearer to attract the extra 6% to win the elections and he failed to do that.

That is where a strategic party will measure his popularity from and analyse their need for him or a change based on it.

As it stands now, from the record of the party, anyone placed on their ticket already has 44% in the bag, it is his regardless of his budget for the campaign. Put Atubiga there and he is getting that in the general elections, put me there and I am getting it.

It is the vote of the NDC, for the NDC and available and for anyone standing for NDC

In view of this, the supposed popularity of the former president is found on the wrong premise, he was rejected by those who matter, they are not the 44.61, they are just 6%.

They are the people the party must seek to attract with the candidate they settle on.

These people want more than party colours, they want a candidate they can trust, one who represents the kind of Ghana they envision.

What makes the NDC think that the people who rejected the leadership of Mahama suddenly deem him the Messiah to save Ghana?

This is up to the NDC and their delegates to find answers, what this article has however proven is that Mahama is as popular as Atubiga as far as contesting on the ticket of the party is concerned: they are all guaranteed at least 44%

This should get the party thinking, an old face isn’t always the best face in elections. A new face comes with new attraction, people are re-energised and there is renewed optimism.

Ghanaians don’t trust in the economic management prowess of the Mahama led NDC, people are of the view that his return means restoration of the very appointees who worked with him previously, most of them don’t inspire voters.

Contrary to the notion that Mahama is NDC’s best bet for 2020, it appears that a new face would do the party a lot of good.

It is impossible for anyone on the ticket of the NDC not to be known at every corner of the nation after a year of campaign.

The worrying issue is, the party is being misled into going with a candidate the people of Ghana have rejected once.

The fraudulent word for this bid is: he is the most popular of them all.

The fact says otherwise

Isaac Kyei Andoh

Isaac Kyei Andoh
Isaac Kyei Andoh, © 2018

This author has authored 98 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: IsaacKyeiAndoh

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