By CYRUS OMBATI
The presidential race has narrowed down to Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy, Uhuru Kenyatta, who have emerged as the leading aspirants.
According to an Ipsos Synovate opinion poll, if elections were conducted today, Raila would beat Uhuru in the first round, but fail to garner the 50 per cent plus one needed to secure State House. This is where things get hard for Raila who, according to the poll would lose to Uhuru and Mudavadi if he faced either in the run-off were elections to be held today.
In the event that Uhuru does not run, Mudavadi stands to benefit from the huge voting bloc in Mt Kenya region.
Uhuru has also gained massively by inheriting what analysts call “orphans” from the Party of National Unity, who now back The National Alliance (TNA) that he created after defecting from Kanu.
Pollster, Ipsos Synovate, in its latest survey announced Raila would capture 42 per cent of the vote, compared to Uhuru’s 48 per cent in the run-off if it took place today.
It is also significant that Uhuru’s share of the vote in a run-off has dropped slightly since a similar poll in September, as the number of undecided voters shrinks.
At the time Kenyatta stood to garner 50 per cent, with Odinga at 42 per cent and eight per cent of those surveyed undecided.
In April, the findings showed both Raila and Kenyatta garnering 44 per cent of the vote in a run-off, while 12 per cent of voters were undecided.
According to the latest poll, a run-off is still inevitable today even though Raila is still rated as the most popular candidate with 36 per cent, with Uhuru at 30 per cent.
Although other factors like the choice of running mate, the pending High Court ruling on the eligibility of Uhuru and Ruto to run due to their International Criminal Court cases and shifting alliances could change the political matrix, the elections would be a two- horse race.
The Ipsos Synovate poll showed that all other aspirants would score less than seven per cent in the first round of the March 4 elections.
In the first round, Mudavadi was ranked third with seven per cent, while Ruto and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka were joint third with six per cent, and Gichugu MP Martha Karua fourth at three per cent.
The poll immediately elicited a sharp reaction from Ruto, who claimed that it was a conspiracy by those who have publicly proclaimed that the election would be a two-horse race.
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“We know these are conspiracies of those propagating the two-horse myth, but they are doomed to fail because the reality is far from their propaganda,” said Ruto.
Addressing a delegation of defectors from Kajiado to his United Republican Party (URP), Ruto said it is Kenyans who would pick their next leader. Raila had declared a few weeks ago after the Kajiado, Ndhiwa, and Kangema by-elections that the presidential contest would be between Uhuru and himself, with others thinning out.
The new poll showed that the proportion of undecided voters remains high, which means they can swing the run-off vote, either way.
Other key crucial issues identified were the declaration of running mates by presidential aspirants, and clear pre-election alliances that the electorate identifies with.
What is clear, however, is that a run-off is highly likely given that no candidate will garner the required more than half of all votes cast in the election in the first round.
The opinion poll was conducted between September 24 and 25. It shows the PM maintaining his lead, with 36 per cent of those polled saying they would vote for him.
The poll shows that Raila and Uhuru have also increased their popularity, as compared an Ipsos-Synovate study in July.
The PM increased his popularity from 33 per cent to 36 per cent, while Uhuru’s rose from 23 to 30 per cent.
Ruto dropped from 12 per cent in July, while Musyoka dropped by four per cent.
Ireri said the study sampled 2,229 respondents in urban and rural areas, and the margin of error is plus or minus 2.2, with a 95 per cent confidence level.
She said the data collected through telephone interviews shows that ODM remains the most popular political party, although TNA and URP are also gaining support. The support levels for ODM are highest in Coast, Nyanza, Western, and North Eastern. TNA has support in Central, and Eastern. UDF enjoys most support in Western.
The findings indicate the most competitive provinces are Nairobi and Rift Valley, where support is not skewed or leaning towards a particular party.
“This shows that most regions have decided on who they would vote, and if there would be any change it would be minimal,” said Ireri.
In case of a run-off between the PM and Mudavadi, the DPM will garner 47 per cent, as compared to 44 per cent for the PM, while eight per cent remain undecided.
This has changed compared to a similar poll by the same research firm in April that gave Odinga a thin lead of 43 per cent, as compared to Mudavadi’s 41 per cent.
The new study shows that Odinga would beat Musyoka in a run-off, with the PM getting 48 per cent of the vote, while the VP would hit 43 per cent.
The PM would garner 51 per cent of the votes against Ruto’s 37 per cent if the two went for a run-off to day in the presidential ballot.
The PM would also garner 49 per cent against Karua’s 40 per cent, and Raila would hit 52 per cent against Peter Kenneth in a run-off.
Pitted against Eugene Wamalwa, Odinga would garner 52 per cent against 37 per cent if the two had a run-off. The rest would be undecided. In case of a run-off between Kenyatta and Musyoka, the DPM would beat the VP by 60 per cent, with the VP getting 27 per cent, and 13 per cent of voters still undecided.
A study conducted per province showed Kenyatta has 38 per cent in Nairobi, 65 per cent in Central, nine per cent in Coast, 34 per cent in Eastern, 18 per cent in Nyanza, 28 per cent in Rift Valley, eight per cent in Western, and 30 per cent in North Eastern. The PM has 37 per cent in Nairobi, 14 per cent in Central, 59 per cent in Coast, 20 per cent in Eastern, 66 per cent in Nyanza, 26 per cent in Rift Valley, 47 per cent in Western, and 43 per cent in North-Eastern.
Mudavadi has five per cent in Nairobi, three per cent in Central, and Nyanza, six per cent in Coast, Rift Valley, and Eastern, 26 per cent in Western and four in North Eastern.
The VP has four per cent support in Nairobi, two per cent in Central, Nyanza, and Rift Valley, three per cent in Coast, and North Eastern, 23 per cent in Eastern and one per cent in Western.