A new opinion poll by Research World International (RWI) has placed incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the lead with 51 percent followed by Forum for Democratic Change party presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye at 32 percent and ex-premier Amama Mbabazi at 12 percent.
The poll that was conducted between December 19, 2015 and January 10, 2016, involved 2,685 registered voters in 89 districts across the country. The respondents were asked on who they would support if the elections were held on the day the polls was carried out.
They were also asked on who they would choose between Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi. According to the poll results, majority of the respondents said they would vote for Museveni because he has maintained peace and stability in the country.
While releasing the poll results at Protea Hotel this afternoon Dr Patrick Wakida, the Executive Director Research World International noted that majority of the respondents especially elderly women said they would vote Museveni.
He however, observed that the race for the presidency is much tougher than it was in July when the first opinion poll was conducted. According to Wakida Besigye has gained "very high momentum" in the post-nomination polls having never scored beyond 18 percent while Museveni's score has never been below 60 percent in all previous polls.
The poll further shows that 78 percent of the voters hail Museveni for his efforts to maintain peace, security and stability, 65 percent for improvements in education and 39 percent for improving the road infrastructure.
Recent opinion polls conducted by media houses; the Vision Group Ltd and Monitor Publication Ltd, put Museveni in the lead with 71 percent and 59 percent respectively. The New Vision poll was conducted this month.
Ofwono Opondo, the spokesperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement party, says his party isn't surprised by the poll results. According to Opondo, internal polls conducted by local council officials show that the NRM flag bearer Museveni is the preferred candidate.
"In the next 28 days we are going to move that one to where we are going to have this election won decisively. NRM has been conducting internal assessment, we have not been so public about it. Our internal assessment revolves around Local Council 1 particularly in the villages where we ask the LC chairperson and NRM leaders at the village level to write out names of people they are sure - first of all are NRM, are registered voters and whom they will vote. I want to tell the world that Museveni is going to win this election at 73 percent", Opondo said.
Wakida says 47 percent of the respondents believed that the poll had been commissioned by the government as opposed to 12 percent who believed that it was an initiative of RWI. He however, says this doesn't necessarily imply that the respondents could have felt intimidated during the data collection process.
"There was a fair share of attribution even to those who said they were sent by government. We did not find statistical attribution to sting that all those who said they were sent by government ended up saying they would vote for Mr Museveni, we did not find that. We also tested out to see, when we asked; 'how free are you to talk about this?' We looked at all those people who said they were not free and still even those were not free, you find those who say they will vote for the opposition. So there is quite a small significance of those people who felt that we had been sent by government
The poll also reveals that 44 percent of the respondents want President Museveni to retire before the February 18 elections, 17 percent after the coming elections and 13 percent say he can retire whenever he wants. 7 percent think he should rule for life and another 7 percent think he should retire during the 2021 elections.
By the time of the polls, Museveni had covered at least 57 of the districts, Besigye 32 and Amama Mbabazi 12 districts. According to the poll findings, Museveni would garner more votes Eastern Uganda with 59 percent followed by Besigye in Central region with 35 percent and Mbabazi in Northern Uganda with 14 percent.
The polls shows Museveni enjoys massive support in rural areas with 57 percent while Besigye dominates urban centers with 43 percent. The poll further indicates that Museveni would garner majority votes from low, medium and high income earners with percentages of 54, 44 and 77 respectively followed by Besigye with 30, 39 and 12 percent in the same order.
The remaining presidential candidates including Venansius Baryamureeba, Abed Bwanika, Maureen Kyalya, Benon Biraaro and Joseph Mabirizi scored 1 percent across all the regions.
Those present at the release of the poll results included Asuman Basalirwa, the president Justice Forum, Godber Tumushabe, the Executive Director Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, and Bishop Zac Niringiye from The Democratic Alliance among others.