Malawi's Institute of Public Opinion Research (Ipor) research on the political environment towards the 2019 Tripartite Elections shows President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may have an edge over the opposition to get his second and mandatory final five-year term.
DPP spokesman and Minister of Information Nicholous Dausi said said IPOR survey is reflective of reality on the ground.
The survey findigs shows that the DPP presidential candidate enjoyed a slight edge in the presidential race compared to opposition candidates, although the difference between the DPP and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidates was within the survey's margin of error.
"Specifically, 27% of Malawians said they would vote for the DPP candidate if elections were held in August 2018, followed in second place by the MCP candidate on 24%. The presidential candidate of the newest party on the political, UTM, was favoured by 16% of Malawians, while the UDF and PP candidates enjoyed 6% and 5% support respectively," reads the IPOR report.
It said 11% of Malawians meanwhile "refused to answer" and a similar number were undecided and said they did not yet know who they would vote for.
"Given the closeness of the two top contenders and the fact that 22% of Malawians were either undecided or refused to state their preference, effectively, the presidential race was a dead heat too close to call in August 2018," reads the report.
The survey was conducted with support by Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) was carried by University of Malawi professors Blessings Chinsinga, Boniface Dulani, Joseph Chunga and Mwayi Masumbu.
"In terms of voting intentions, in the presidential, parliamentary and local government races, the ruling DPP was ahead in the national vote, followed very closely by the MCP", the report by the survey firm says.
In the report, IPOR reveals that the DPP leads on party identification (support) with 33% ahead of MCP) (31%) and UTM (17%).
The poll survey firm based in eastern city of Zomba, said on political party popularity, the ruling DPP held a narrow lead in terms of the proportion of Malawians indicating that they supported the party with 33%.
In second place was the main opposition MCP was rated with 31% support. The newly formed UTM of State Vice-president Saulos Chilima came third in terms of membership, ahead of two former ruling parties, UDF and PP.
Dausi said analysing the demographics of the report, it reveals that the DPP appeals to all age groups, especially the youth.
The party enjoys a great balance of support across all regions. The oipulous Southern Region remains DPP's stronghold.
Mutharika's party will have increased performance in the Central Region, coming second. However, it comes second to UTM in the North - with a very narrow margin.
Interestingly, the DPP has shown a strong performance in both urban and rural areas.
Dausi said the prediction was wright as DPP was slowly gaining its popularity.
During the Afrobarometer survey of January 2017, survey Malawians identified food shortages (35%); management of the economy (23%) and farming (7%) as the three top most problems that they wanted the government to address.
When the same question was asked in the current survey in August 2018, the most frequently mentioned problems were identical to what was reported in the 2017 Afrobarometer study, with food shortage (18%), management of the economy (16%), and poverty or destitution (7%) as top challenges the government should address. Those three areas are the key areas where the current administration has performed well.
Since 2014, no Malawian has died of hunger. The economy has been stable and growing, leading the SADC region in performance. Inflation remains stable under 9%. The interest rate has remained unchanged at 16%. These factors have led to the improved conditions of the lives of Malawians.
The report outcomes are in line with findings of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), an internationally acclaimed risk and forecast think-tank, which predicted President Mutharika to win .