Ruto and Raila rely on backyards to get head start in bruising battle

DP William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

When the starter is fired on August 9, Deputy President William Ruto will have begun his sprint to State House with slight edge over his main rival Mr Raila Odinga.

The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) flag bearer will take off the starting block with an almost guaranteed 2,432,441votes from his Rift Valley backyard, giving him a slight advantage over his rival Mr Odinga, whose Nyanza turf has 2,160,439 votes.

According to statistics extrapolated from the 2022 voter register which was gazetted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday, the UDA presidential candidate and his Azimio la Umoja One Kenya counterpart, will each have a head start in their ethnic backyards, which have historically overwhelmingly voted for them- and where they are expected to ensure 90 per cent voter turnout.

In the Rift Valley region, Dr Ruto will be relying on 506,138 votes from his home county of Uasin Gishu another 428,067 from the neighbouring Kericho county and 406,288 votes from Nandi county.

At the same time, the DP will be counting on 376,985 votes from Bomet county, 281,053 from Baringo county, 220,026 votes from West Pokot county and 213,884 votes from Elgeyo Marakwet County to advance past his main challenger Mr Odinga in the region.

On the other hand, the Azimio presidential candidate will be seeking to consolidate “low hanging votes” from his home county of Siaya 533,595 and 606,754 from Kisumu County, 551,071 from Homa Bay County as well as 469,019 from Migori County.

There are, however, other five counties from Rift Valley considered to be swing votes in the August 9 General Election. Whoever manages to capture the hearts and souls of the electorate in the said counties stands to gain an extra 1,599,580 votes.

They include Kajiado County with 463,273, Trans Nzoia County with 398,981, Samburu County with 100,014, Narok County (398,784), and Turkana County 238,528.

Moreover, in the larger Nyanza counties comprising Kisii (637,010 votes) and Nyamira County with 323,283 votes, whoever sways the voters will enjoy the spoils given that the two counties are considered swing votes in this year’s polls.

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga chats with DP William Ruto during a past event. [File, Standard]

In the 2017 election, Jubilee and ANC parties were able to amass a sizeable number of the votes in Kisii and Nyamira, with a combined 969,293 votes between them, and it will be interesting to see who between the front runners will emerge victorious given the recent shifts in political alliances.

A look at the campaigns by Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga in their backyards reveals that the Rift Valley and Nyanza regions are strategic vote hunting grounds. In the last six months, the DP visited the Rift Valley region 21 times. Mr Odinga made 15 trips to the region.

In Nyanza, which has predominantly voted for Mr Odinga in previous elections, the two candidates visited seven times each. The campaigns by the candidates have been deliberate attempts to ring-fence their voting blocs.

Noteworthy is also the fact that the duo has been calling on the electorate to embrace the “six-piece” voting pattern to ensure they each have the majority numbers in Parliament should they form the next government.

This has however rubbed fringe parties the wrong way, setting the stage for a massive fallout with only 45 days left to the elections.