As the highly anticipated Sierra Leone elections approach, a groundbreaking independent opinion poll conducted by Meraki Analytics SL Limited, in collaboration with Data Mansah and SierraEye Magazine, has shed light on the voting preferences and concerns of almost 7,000 potential voters nationwide.

The survey has unveiled a surprising level of uncertainty, with nearly one-third of respondents choosing not to disclose their voting intentions.

The Sierra Leone 2023 Elections Opinion Poll, despite facing challenges such as community leaders preventing interviews in some areas, stands as the largest national survey of registered voters in the country.

It highlights the issues that matter most to voters, with basic human rights, including access to food, employment, and education, taking the lead at 48%, 44%, and 36% respectively.

According to the poll results, President Maada Bio currently holds a lead over his main opponent, Dr Samura Kamara of the APC, with 38% of respondents indicating their support for the incumbent president, compared to 25% for Kamara. However, the high number of undecided voters (10%) and those unwilling to disclose their preferences (23%) accounts for more than one-third of the respondents. This trend was particularly pronounced in Kambia (64%), Bombali (59%), Karene (57%), and Tonkolili (56%), where respondents may have feared potential risks associated with sharing their voting intentions.

The survey also reveals a concerning lack of understanding among voters regarding key election-related issues. A majority of respondents (64%) were unaware of the new proportional representation system and the inclusion of parliamentary and council elections alongside the presidential race. Nonetheless, Sierra Leoneans remain committed to the democratic process, as an overwhelming 98% of registered voters surveyed expressed their intention to vote.

President Maada Bio enjoys a 49% approval rating among voters, with his highest popularity recorded in Kailahun (88%), Pujehun (83%), Bo (82%), Bonthe (80%), and Kenema (79%). However, his lowest approval ratings are observed in Western Area Rural (25%), Western Area Urban (24%), Port Loko (22%), and Bombali (22%).

While nearly 60% of voters have expressed confidence in the credibility of the election, 9% remain skeptical about the integrity of the process, and a significant 26% declined to answer the question. Despite these concerns, a majority of voters have indicated their willingness to accept the election results.

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • An estimated 22% of registered voters, approximately 741,254 individuals, have attended political rallies or campaign events.
  • Of those who attended such events, 40% reported attending an SLPP rally, while 23% attended an APC event, with the remainder attending multiple party events.
  • Radio remains the primary source of election-related information for 57% of registered voters, while 6% rely on specific individuals and 7% mention WhatsApp as their main source.
  • Knowledge about crucial election-related issues remains low, as only 14% of respondents understood the meaning of the proportional representation system, despite 39% having heard of it. Additionally, almost 34% of voters believe the elections will either be conducted as in 2018 or that they will only be required to vote for the presidency.
  • In the mayoral elections, over one-third of Freetown voters did not disclose their preferred candidate. Among those who did, 40% favored APC’s Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, while 27% indicated their support for Mohamed Gento-Kamara.
  • With the proportional representation electoral system in place, the poll suggests a high likelihood of a two-party parliament and local councils, making it highly unlikely for independent candidates and smaller political parties to secure seats.

The Sierra Leone 2023 Elections Opinion Poll provides invaluable insights into voter sentiments, preferences, and concerns, underscoring the significance of the upcoming elections. With only two days remaining until polling day, the level of uncertainty revealed in this survey sets the stage for an exciting and closely contested race that could potentially lead to a run-off between President Maada Bio and Dr Samura Kamara. As Sierra Leoneans gear up to exercise their democratic rights, the nation eagerly awaits the final outcome of these crucial elections.