Afrobarometer admits ‘errors’ in opinion poll: ‘Statistics have changed’

US-based Afrobarometer opinion poll released on Friday had “technical problems in the analysis of the data”, the Afrobarometer’s Operations Manager from the University of Malawi, Dr Boniface Dulani indicated.

Nyasa Times reported on Friday before the release of the survey report that Centre for Social Research (CSR) at the University of Malawi raised concerns of serious interference by Afrobarometer in the way the research was to be conducted.

Afrobarometer in partnership with CSR have been conducting a survey in Malawi to ascertain which presidential candidate and political party are likely to win the elections in Malawi on May 20.

Dulani: We discovered some technical problems in the analysis of the data
Dulani: We discovered some technical problems in the analysis of the data

But the results were “withheld” after the pollster suspended CSR from the projects following the serious concerns the Centre raised about the credibility of a survey that was clearly marred by flouting of set guidelines for such an exercise and that blatant interference by Afrobarometer officials, who were not supposed to be part of the actual interviews and tabulation of data in the first place.

One of Afrobarometer’s leading pollsters, Dr Boniface Dulani, a lecture of political science at University of Malawi, confirmed in email correspondence that there were flaws.

“We indeed planned to announce the results of the opinion poll on Wednesday but we discovered some technical problems in the analysis of the data that we decided to postpone the announcements until these problems are rectified,” said Dulani.

He indicated that Afrobarometer is a reputable organization known for giving out data that is credible “so we cannot give out to the public information that we know has errors.”

In its released poll, Afrobarometer said the survey  predicting elections are “too close to call”was conducted somewhere between March and April, sampling 2, 400 people.

But Dulani has noted that  since the survey was conducted, the intensity of campaign among the top political parties has picked up, a development he said may have also swayed the 15 percent of undecided voters and changed the statistics after the poll.

Statistician and associate professor at the University of Malawi’s The Polytechnic Salule Masangwi also told Nation on Sunday that the percentage of undecided voters should be cause for concern to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Peter Mutharika who the survey indicated had a slight lead.

Other opinion polls by London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Malawi’s Research Tech Consultants and Nyasa Times  online news source have  highly favoured President Joyce Banda to win the forthcoming elections.

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