The results of the second “Thawra” survey are in. Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League has a commanding lead in the Presidential race with 29% of the surveyed supporting him. Ahmed Shafiq, the former (very briefly) Prime Minister of Egypt comes in second (19%).
Former head of the IAEA and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei comes in third with a disappointing 9% while Judge Hisham El Bastawesy starts his campaign with a respectable 7%.
These results are a bit perplexing as they show that while Mubarak’s regime has fallen, the two main candidates who were part of the regime are polling much better than the two main candidates who helped topple the regime.
For an overview of the results in Arabic head to Wael’s post.
It is still way too early
One interesting thing to note is that a full quarter of the surveyed have not decided yet while a further 12% are currently supporting very weak candidates that will likely drop from the race (if they decide to run in the first place). That means that we have more than a third of the electorate who are up for grabs.
Also, it is still early days as a lot of things are in play. There are a lot of factors that could change the scene between now and the elections at the end of the year, foremost of which are:
- One or more candidates supported by Islamic groups joining the fray.
- ElBaradei’s ability to counteract the effects of the former regime’s smear campaign against him.
- Whether El Bastawesy will be able to capture the imagination of the masses.
- Will Shafiq be able to avoid the ramifications of corruption investigations against him.
Having said that let us dive into some of the interesting trends.
The Brotherhood and Islamists
The Muslim Brotherhood have not thrown their weight behind a candidate yet. As of now the Muslim Brotherhood’s sympathizers have an almost identical distribution to the population as a whole. This will probably change as the group allies itself with one or more candidates. The same logic applies to other Islamists. It is interesting to note that according to our survey, 10%-15% of the population support the Muslim Brotherhood; this is similar to results by a Gallup survey that I saw somewhere but lost the link to.
The Rural Effect
Slightly more than 50% of Egypt is considered rural. The population there tends to be poorer and less educated. As of now, the only candidate that is polling better in the rural areas (32%) than in the cities (27%) is Amr Moussa. Shafiq is doing slightly better in cities (21% vs 17% for rural) while El Bastawesy has 7% support in both. ElBaradei on the other hand is being killed in rural areas. While he garners 13% of the support in the cities, he has a measly 5% support rate outside them. Fully 40% of the electorate in rural areas are still up for grabs (between undecided and supporting very weak candidates).
He who wins over the Elite doesn’t get much
Both ElBaradei and El Bastawesy are doing really well with the sliver of Egyptians who make more than L.E. 5,000 a month. ElBaradei is leading the field with 36% while El Bastawesy and Moussa are tied for second with 22% each. Sadly for ElBaradei and El Bastawesy, this group constitutes between 3% and 5% of the population. It will be interesting to see if they will able to convert that level of support into campaign contributions.
The Untapped Potential of “Shabab El Thawra” (The Revolutionary Youth)
Not withstanding the failure of Shabab El Thawra in convincing the nation to vote NO in the referendum on the constitutional amendments they still have a very strong brand. About a quarter of the electorate would support their candidate in a parliamentary election. Interestingly 75% of this group voted YES in the referendum. So while they admire Shabab El Thawra, they still don’t vote alongside them. This might explain why ElBaradei and El Bastawesy score relatively low with this group, capturing a cumulative 16% while Moussa and Shafiq capture 40% of their support. If Shabab El Thawra (whoever they are) decide to throw their weight and behind one candidate (and then communicate that to the masses effectively) that candidate could conceivably get a good 5%-10% bump.
It is still too early but we have a very strong front-runner in Moussa, a surprisingly good showing by Shafiq, a very disappointing position for ElBaradei and a good start for El Bastawesy. Here are my advice to the candidates:
- Moussa: Minimize interviews were you get asked tough questions about your role in the former regime.
- Shafiq: Kill the corruption charges, try to shed the “Candidate of the NDP” moniker.
- ElBaradei: Squash the rumors, clean your name, hit the streets (dusty muddy rural streets), get the endorsement of Shabab El Thawra (and the Brotherhood if you can) and try to convince El Bastawesy to be your VP.
- El Bastawesy: Keep doing what you are doing, hit the streets. If in a month you surpass ElBaradei, convince him to step aside, if not, join him as his VP.
* The survey was conducted in the period between March 25-27 having 749 respondents in 21 provinces. The margin of error is estimated to be +/- 5%.