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Survey: Zimbabwe’s Presidential Race Tightens Ahead of July 30 Election

Zimbabwe is set to conduct crucial elections July 30, 2018.
Zimbabwe is set to conduct crucial elections July 30, 2018.

Zimbabwe’s presidential race tightened between early May and early July as incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa’s lead over challenger Nelson Chamisa dropped from 11 to just 3 percentage points among registered likely voters, a new survey shows.

Findings of the nationally representative survey, which the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) conducted in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe between 25 June and 6 July 2018, suggest that the MDC-T Chamisa/Alliance has benefited from a small increase in party identification and perceptions of Chamisa as the more capable candidate to address voters’ top priority: job creation.

According to Afrobarometer, compared to a pre-election baseline survey in April/May, the new findings point toward a close election outcome denying the winner a broad electoral mandate, and confirm majority support for a Government of National Unity (GNU).

“As for who was ahead in the presidential race, Mnangagwa’s 11-percentage-point lead in early May (42% vs. 31% for Chamisa) dropped to just 3 points as of early July: 40% of registered likely voters said they would vote for the incumbent vs. 37% for the challenger. It is important to remember that an uncertainty factor of +/-2 percentage points surrounds these figures and that the voting intentions of 20% of registered likely voters remained unknown.

“When asked which candidate they think will win the election, 43% of all respondents picked Mnangagwa, while 34% said Chamisa.”

Afrobarometer says Chamisa outranked Mnangagwa, 42% to 32%, in popular perceptions of which candidate would “do a better job in creating jobs for the people” – by far Zimbabweans’ most important campaign issue.

Six in 10 Zimbabweans said that if no presidential candidate achieves a clear victory, they would favour the creation of a Government of National Unity (GNU). The proportion who thought that a GNU was likely increased from 33% in early May to 41% in early July.

There are 23 presidential candidates in the forthcoming election featuring front runners.