By Sunday James Akinloye
For those who take The Economist prediction as gospel, you might be in for a long haul because they do have a handful of failed poll predictions that has hurt their believers hard in times past.
In 2016, they put Hillary Clinton to the sword by falsely making her and her campaign team believe that they will win. Here’s how The Economist predicted the outcome of the 2016 election in the United States.
“Could it happen? Absolutely. But it would be a very, very big upset—about as likely as, say, the Chicago Cubs baseball team coming back from a three-games-to-one deficit to win their first World Series since 1908. So yeah, Hillary’s got this. Democrats, just ask a Cleveland Indians fan whether you have anything to worry about.”
We all know what happened at the end. Clinton lost and Trump won. The Economist misled them and billions across the world. Coming back home for a bit. In December 2018, The Economist predicted that incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari will win a second term in office and that the opposition will collapse.
The Economist in its edition, “The World in 2019”, the magazine said: “The president, Muhammadu Buhari, will win re-election in February, as the new opposition coalition may collapse before the vote.
Just to state categorically, the quote from The Economist claimed two things. One is that President Buhari will be re-elected and that the opposition will collapse before the elections. One thing is clear, President Buhari is clear favourites to win if the campaign rallies across the country are anything to go by.
President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have embarked on a more proactive and people-oriented campaigns than any other party in Nigerian democratic history. The mammoth crowds at the rallies are also a confirmation that the presidential duo is loved.
Fast forward to February 2019, barely two weeks before the presidential election in Nigeria, the supposedly reputed magazine did a U-turn and claimed that the main opposition party will win.
Please stop for a minute and take a deep breath, do you expect the truth from a man who speaks from both sides of his mouth?
Little wonder, economic historian and professor of Economics, Bradford DeLong wrote this about The Economist, “As a longtime reader of The Economist, let me just say that in the past six years I have come to the conclusion that in five important issue areas–U.S. politics, U.S. economics, finance (U.S. and global), Middle Eastern politics, and African politics — anything The Economist states that I did not already know is likely to be wrong… And it’s the reason I pay much more attention these days to the Financial Times.”
In all fairness, there is nothing left of The Economist’s credibility when it comes to political calculations and predictions. Hopefully, The Economist will have the decency to apologise to Nigerians after the elections on 16 February.
Akinloye is President of Initiative to Save Democracy. He is a social commentator and political analyst*