Posted by: Christian | June 17, 2009

First Afghan Presidential Poll of Voting Intentions Rolls In

For what it’s worth, The International Republican Institute commissioned a poll of voter intentions in Afghanistan:

The New York Times interpretation:

The poll, conducted by the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit pro-democracy group affiliated with the Republican Party and financed by the American government, found that only 31 percent of Afghans said they would vote for Mr. Karzai again, far less than in 2004, when he won with 54 percent of the vote.

That’s some pretty poor data reading there, NYT. You can’t compare those two figures. See further below.

The polling was conducted by The Kabul Group Consulting Group, whose “about us” page says:


Yeah, thanks for that. So they are not exactly Pew or Zogby. Honestly, I know nothing about them. But somebody from the cocktail circuit in Kabul should be able to supply some BS rumor about them for you. As I’m told with the “utmost of certainty,” The Asia Foundation and its surveys in Afghanistan are directed by the CIA. Yeah, I read the wikipedia article on them too (they took CIA funding until 1967 for some southeast Asia stuff).

Back to the poll. It’s not as useful as the polls that have been publishing for a couple of years back and can track changes using the same methodolgy and techniques.

There is a lot to look at in there. Some random thoughts:

78% consider themselves Afghans first ahead of ethnicity. That’s rhetoric, not action.

Why do 39% of people have a negative view of Sigbatullah Mojadeddi? At least  he isn’t as far down as Rabbani, Sayyaf and Dostum at 54, 51 and 46 respectively. Seriously, I would like to know. He has always been represented as a conciliatory figure who “brings people together” etc…

Karzai is, at 24%, the person people identify most favorably. He is followed close by guys named Don’t Know and Other.

Things have generally deterioarated in many different categories. This is in line with other surveys conducted.

And, most importantly for the election, 31% of people say that if the election is held today they would vote for Karzai. However, the repsonses include many people who are not running as well as “Others,” “Don’t know” and “Refused to answer.”

Karzai’s voter retention (people who voted for him last time but now will not) is way down. But, there is no one candidate that these disgruntled are going to.

68% want talks and reconciliation with the Taliban. Well, you got it. The Taliban says “F-off, we’re winning.”

This is an interesting question: When ISAF troops are in your community, which community representative positions should they speak with to achieve security and stability? (open-ended question). 31% say “elders” and 29% say “head of tribe.” That’s a recipe for endless tea sessions and a serious argument about who the hell is the “head” of the “tribe.”

BBC and Azadi are the two most listened to radio stations by a long shot. IO public diplomacy accomplished!

There is so much more in the survey. Check it out.

We know, relatively speaking, pretty much nothing about the acuracy of polling and surveys in Afghanistan. So the election? Your guess is as good as mine. There are no “experts” on this matter. My guess is that Karzai gets over 50% and wins in the first round due to lack of strong competition. He’ll get some rather unenthusiastic votes, but he’ll get them. Please feel free to leave your own guess. If I’m wrong I promise not to erase this blog entry.


  1. […] And the only poll so far (albeit of unknown accuracy) was not kind to him. […]


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