Collected reactions to Twaweza / Sauti za Wananchi opinion poll findings

Two weeks ago, my colleagues and I at Twaweza launched our latest political opinion poll for Tanzania – including the perhaps surprising headline finding that at the start of the campaign period, CCM presidential candidate, John Magufuli had a strong lead over the Chadema / Ukawa candidate, Edward Lowassa. In case anyone hasn’t seen the poll findings (where have you been?), support for Magufuli was found to be 65%, while support for Lowassa was 25%, and Magufuli had a lead across all groups – urban, rural, male, female, all ages, all education levels:

I must also remind readers that this data comes from a nationally representative sample of 1,848 respondents from all regions of mainland Tanzania. It is not a prediction of the election results: a lot can happen between the time the data was collected and election day at the end of the month. The only poll that really counts in the one that takes place on October 25th. However, my main purpose here is simply to gather together a variety of media reactions to this poll and others published around the same time (e.g. Ipsos, TADIP).

1. Newspaper front pages, 23/9/15 On the day after the poll launch, it dominated the front pages. Some papers just report the poll’s findings and/or Ukawa’s reaction to it. Others are already rubbishing it directly, including unsurprisingly Tanzania Daima which strongly supports Lowassa / Chadema / Ukawa, but also the usually more neutral Guardian and Nipashe:


2. Newspaper front pages, 24/9/15 – On the second day, the story has a little less prominence, and focusses mainly on reactions to the poll:


3. Newspaper front pages, 25/9/15 – On day 3, coverage focussed mostly on a new poll – by Ipsos / Synovate – with findings that were similar to Twaweza’s (Magufuli on 62%). Most of the papers gave attention to Ipsos, while Mtanzania (and Nipashe, to a lesser extent) reported on a separate poll conducted by Ukawa, which gave Lowassa 76%:


4. Newspaper front pages 26/9/15 and later – Another new poll, this time by a Tanzanian organisation called TADIP. Several papers report on the TADIP poll, but Raia Tanzania reveals that TADIP has close links to Chadema:


5. Collected cartoons – We kept the cartoonists busy as well, with several suggesting that Twaweza was providing support (legitimately or otherwise) to CCM and Magufuli. Others covered polling more generally:


6. The Twitter-verse – A curated collection of Tweets on the topic, mostly from the day of the launch itself:

7. Curiosities

But perhaps most interesting of all are the imaginative (and in some cases highly fictional) reactions and responses. They illustrate the nature of politics in Tanzania at the moment very nicely. Here are some collected “highlights”:

My colleagues and I at Twaweza responded to some of this – in particular the forged facebook page and the totals that don’t add up to 100% due to rounding.

And finally, some personal reflections?

  1. Some people will never believe something that they don’t want to hear.
  2. Understanding of opinion polling, survey methodologies, and especially sampling techniques, is low. It is not widely recognised that a random, representative sample of 2,000 people is far more reliable than a clearly biased sample of 200,000.
  3. Has Tanzania really reached a point when we assume that anyone can be bought?

Nevertheless, for perhaps the first time in the campaign, people were really discussing evidence and data, with a passion. Some of this was unreasonable and probably illegal, but in another way the rough-and-tumble of arguments about data was actually refreshing and healthy. It was messy, yes, but that’s how democracy works.


2 thoughts on “Collected reactions to Twaweza / Sauti za Wananchi opinion poll findings

  1. Eli

    My question is: if “the only poll that really counts in the one that takes place on October 25th”, what was the point of spending time and money to do this survey/opinion poll? We could just have waited for the October 25th poll.

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