Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) still commands the highest rating with 71.2 per cent of people interviewed in a September 2010 opinion poll saying they would vote for the ruling party in the October 31 General Election.
But the opinion poll results released yesterday by the University of Dar es Salaam’s Research for Democracy and Education in Tanzania (REDET) show the party’s popularity had registered a six per cent drop compared to the 77.2 popularity rating recorded during the March 2010 poll.
Announcing the opinion poll results, REDET Co-Chair Dr Benson Bana voters’ said preference for CCM parliamentary candidates had also dropped by 1.3 per cent.
"These results indicated that CCM popularity was dropping while the opposition parties were gaining in popularity,” Dr Bana told a press conference.
He said however that if the general election were to be held last month, the ruling party would have won in presidential, parliamentary and councillorship races,” he said, adding: "After a month of campaign period, CCM popularity is dropping while the opposition parties, especially CHADEMA and CUF are gaining.”
Dr Bana said the results indicated that CUF which was in a second position in March polls had dropped to third position with 10.1 percent compared to 9.2 per cent in March.
According to the poll, Chadema had now taken the second popular party position with 12 per cent rating. Chadema was number three with 4.2 per cent during the March polls.
He said the research was held in all the 26 regions of the country.
Regarding members of parliament, the opinion polls show that CCM has scored 66.7 per cent as compared to 68 per cent of March; CUF 11.7 per cent from 10.2 per cent of March and Chadema scored 11.5 per cent from 8.6 per cent of March this year.
For councillors CCM has also dropped from 68.2 per cent in March to 66 per cent; CUF has gone up from 10.6 per cent to 11.5 per cent and Chadema also jumped from 7.7 percent in March to 10.3 per cent.
The don however cautioned that there could be changes in people's perception of the political parties as the country approach the general election.
The CCM vice chairman Pius Msekwa said his party respected the results of the polls saying that REDET was a credible and professional facility.
He said his party had taken heed of all the aspirations of the people saying that all would be taken care of by CCM.
"Luckly all these are embedded in our election manifesto," he said.
The Vice chairman said although the results indicated that CCM had dropped in popularity compared to March polls, it was not a big challenge to the party.
“CCM will continue with its campaign as usual. We believe people still have trust on us," Msekwa said.
Msekwa said CCM was happy to hear that opposition parties were becoming stronger because it was healthier for CCM to compete with strong political parties than weaklings.
The Chadema campaign manager Prof. Mwesinga Baregu was not categorical on whether he accepted the poll results.
“We have not got a copy of the research yet. After going through it, we will comment," he said.
Prof Baregu said the outcome of the research depended on the methods and instruments used.
“We are happy to hear that CCM and other political parties have dropped while Chadema has gone up," said Prof Baregu, cautioning; "results could change."
The CUF director of information and communication Ashura Mustapher said her party was sceptical about the results.
“We do not trust the findings, because REDET has never found fault with the ruling party. It always says the party is doing well," he said, adding: "The on-going campaigns have shown that people are tired with CCM but the researchers have come with a report appeasing CCM that it is still going strong."
“Our stand on Redet is that it is an organ which has been initiated by the ruling party to cheat voters,” he said.