ACME issue brief: Yes, opinion polls matter even in Uganda

This is a publication of the African Centre for Media Excellence.

Unlike in countries such as the United States, opinion polling (an assessment of public views “obtained by questioning a representative sample”) is not a regular activity in Uganda. Every time findings of an opinion poll are released, especially toward and during the campaign season, some commentators trash them. They argue that a poll on politics in Uganda cannot be credible because people, especially rural folk, live in fear of offending the government and so they will not reveal their actual answer to a question. They fear retribution. For different political camps, a finding that shows an opponent leading means the pollster was bribed.

This state of affairs inspired ACME to convene a breakfast meeting for journalists to hear from two key pollsters in Uganda just as the campaign season was beginning to pick steam. The meeting took place in Kampala on 3 September 2015 with experienced Ugandan pollsters Francis Kibirige (Afrobarometer) and Patrick Wakida (Research World International). The interaction, part of ACME’s “Evening With…” monthly series of talks funded by the Democratic Governance Facility, turned out to be an introductory class in opinion polling.

Read online or download the issue brief below.