Saturday, November 7, 2020, seemed different from every other Saturday. People from all over the world were eager for updates on the fate of America. And when the media finally declared Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, social media went wild.
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter(BLM)and End SARS Movements; the recent U.S. Presidential Election has been one of the many significant events in the year 2020 thus far. The election gained massive attention from all over the world to the extent of ardent followers blowing up social media with their predictions and congratulatory posts.
In Ghana, various media outlets including Citi Newsroom and Peace FM online among others provided updates on the election primarily through their digital platforms. Ghanaian social media enthusiasts also expressed their opinions on the election and support for their preferred candidates through posts and comments. Around 2 am on November 8, the United States of America was already trending on Twitter with over 285,000 tweets from Ghana. While most Ghanaians generally shared their opinions on the U.S. election, others tried establishing a relationship between the U.S. Election results and the possible outcome of this year's Ghanaian Election.
There are two leading political parties in Ghana - the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). In 2016, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP beat Former President John Dramani Mahama of the NDC in the general election by a difference of approximately 9.2% of the total votes. The 2016 election brought Former President John Dramani Mahama’s four-year reign to an abrupt end. Mahama, as many Ghanaians call him, was sworn into power following the death of his predecessor, John Evans Atta-Mills in 2012. While some argue that the NPP’s Free SHS and One District One Factory Initiatives may have appealed to voters during their 2016 campaign, others believe Ghanaians were just fed up with the NDC and as such desperately wanted change. Their sentiments may be attributed to the erratic power outages ("Dumsor") in the country, the government's involvement in corruption-related activities, and Former President Mahama's response to those allegations.
This year, for the first time in Ghana’s history, a current and a former president, are battling for the presidential seat in the Ghanaian general election. Surprisingly, there was no presidential debate before the election. Nonetheless, both the NDC and NPP had the chance to get their messages across to all Ghanaians by utilizing traditional and new media platforms, as well as the rallies they held within the different constituencies.
After Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, both the NPP and NDC took to social media to congratulate him and Kamala Harris for their victory. However, the NDC seemed more enthusiastic and even hopeful that the outcome would affect Ghana’s election results as well. On November 7, the party expressed solidarity with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in a tweet.
The main opposition leader, Former President John Dramani Mahama further took to his Twitter account to do same in a tweet with an official statement attached.
Before that, on November 5, an official statement signed by the party's National Chairman, Comrade Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, circulated on social media. In the statement, Joe Biden's leadership was described as a symbolic representation of a new wave of awakening for the protection of black lives and that of all minorities. They later dismissed the statement claiming that it was fake.
On November 4, Pulse Ghana, a media publisher, in an Instagram post, shared a visual that compared past U.S. and Ghanaian Elections, and asked the public if 2020 has another surprise. Their comparison basically revealed a pattern where the NDC won an election anytime the Democratic Party did and vice-versa for the NPP and Republican Party.
However, a personal survey that sought to understand Ghanaian perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election and its possible impact on this year's Ghanaian Election revealed otherwise. The survey had questions ranging from respondents' preferred U.S. presidential candidate, reasons for their choice and their projected winner of the 2020 Ghanaian election. While these responses may not be an accurate representation of the entire Ghanaian population that followed the U.S. Presidential Election, they do give an insight into what a few Ghanaians think about the 2020 U.S. and Ghanaian Elections.
Out of the 63 people who had filled out the survey as of December 8, 49 people did not think that the U.S. election results will have any impact on this year’s Ghanaian election. Additionally, when asked about their thoughts on Pulse Ghana's comparison, 37 of the total respondents did not believe that the pattern would repeat itself this year.
The data collected from the survey also proved that the respondents did not just follow the U.S. Elections blindly, but had strong opinions about the individual presidential candidates. Out of the 63 respondents, 24 of them supported President Donald Trump, 20 supported Joe Biden and 19 preferred neither of the two. Between personality and policy, 24 people think that the candidate’s personality influenced the outcome of the election, 2 believe policies did, and 21 believe both factors contributed to the outcome. The respondents cited some of their reasons for supporting President Trump as “he has the future of America at heart” and “his support for the church.” Joe Biden supporters, on the other hand, mentioned his compassionate personality and strong policies on healthcare and immigration, among others.
Many of the respondents may have believed that Joe Biden's personality won the U.S. Elections. However, the dynamics were different when asked a similar question about Ghana. Most of them think that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has better policies than Former President John Dramani Mahama. Also, 37 of them projected that the current president would most likely win this year’s election, and 50 expressed that the other political parties apart from the NDC and NPP have zero chances of winning. Interestingly, 32% of the 63 respondents likened the NPP to the Republican Party and 16.1% to the Democratic Party. With the NDC, 27.4% compared them to the Democratic Party and 1.6% to the Republican Party.
Millions of Ghanaians on December 7, exercised their voting rights to determine the future of the country. The collating of votes in the 2020 Ghanaian Election is still ongoing. Therefore, while we individually try to predict what path Ghana will be taking for the next four years, the best we can do is to await the Electoral Commission's official announcement of this year's Ghanaian Presidential Election winner.