Presidential candidates Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are locked in a statistical dead-heat, new opinion polls have shown. The two are fighting a race that is possibly as close as 2007, according to three opinion polls commissioned by the Nation Media Group.
In data collected between February 14 and February 17, registered voters were asked whom they would vote for if the election were held on that day.
According to Strategic Research, 44.4 per cent said they would vote for Mr Odinga while 43.9 per cent said they would back Mr Kenyatta.
Mr Musalia Mudavadi of Amani coalition had the backing of 6.4 per cent of the respondents, Mr Peter Kenneth of the Eagle coalition was backed by 2.8 per cent, while Ms Martha Karua of Narc Kenya 1.9 per cent.
None of the remaining three presidential candidates was supported by more than one per cent of interviewees.
Prof. James ole Kiyiapi of Restore and Build Kenya got 0.3 per cent, Mr Mohammed Abduba Dida of the Alliance for Real Change got 0.2 per cent and Mr Paul Muite of Safina 0.1 per cent.
The survey was conducted in 33 counties and had a margin of error of +/-2 with a confidence level of 95 per cent.
Consumer Insight put the same question to voters on the same dates and reported that 45 per cent backed Mr Odinga while Mr Kenyatta was supported by 43 per cent.
Mr Mudavadi was the choice of five per cent of those interviewed, while Mr Kenneth got three per cent and Ms Karua had the support of one per cent. Two per cent of those interviewed were undecided.
Infotrak Research and Consulting reported 45.9 per cent of the voters interviewed backed Mr Odinga, and 44.4 per cent supported Mr Kenyatta.
Mr Mudavadi was third with six per cent followed by Mr Kenneth at 1.9 per cent, Prof Kiyiapi (0.3 per cent), Ms Karua (0.2 per cent) and Mr Dida with 0.1 per cent. Mr Muite had no significant scores in the Infotrak poll.
However, 1.2 per cent of the voters interviewed said they were yet to make up their minds.
However, had the election been conducted during the survey period, none of the candidates would have the support of 50 per cent of the 14.3 million registered voters required for a first round win.
Therefore, all things being equal, unless either Mr Odinga or Mr Kenyatta makes serious gains, State House will not have a new tenant until after a run-off in April.
The Constitution says a presidential candidate must garner at least 25 per cent of the votes in 24 of the 47 counties to qualify for the highest political office, a condition only Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga meet, according to the polls.
The Constitution directs that the second round of the polls, involving the top two candidates in the first round, should be held within 30 days after the March 4 General Election.
Two pollsters – Strategic and Infotrak – reported that Mr Odinga was the most popular candidate in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, while Consumer Insight put Mr Odinga behind Mr Kenyatta with a gap of two per cent.
Infotrak went a step further and sought to know from respondents how the popularity of the candidates had been affected by the chaotic nominations held a month ago.
The results showed that Mr Kenyatta gained by 6.7 per cent while Mr Odinga lost by 1.5 per cent. The change could also be as a result of the aggressive campaigns that the Jubilee Coalition has been conducting since the nominations, Mr Kenyatta’s performance in the presidential debate where he was rated in other opinion polls as the best performer and the High Court ruling which essentially threw out a case seeking to stop him and his running mate, Mr William Ruto, from contesting in the General Election.
US president Barrack Obama’s statement that the US does not support any candidate in the election could have solidified Mr Kenyatta’s support, but then the diplomatic cautions about electing suspects of crimes against humanity may also have slowed support for the Jubilee Coalition.
Mr Odinga’s popularity losses could be due to the nominations mess where popular candidates denied party tickets decamped to other parties.
The pollsters also, for the first time, agreed that people have finally decided that they will support a coalition as well as its presidential candidate.
Consumer Insight shows that Mr Odinga has a lead in five regions (Coast, Western, Nyanza, North Eastern and Eastern) while Mr Kenyatta has a lead in Central, Rift Valley and Nairobi.
Infotrak shows that Mr Kenyatta will win convincingly in Central and Rift Valley, while Mr Odinga will win in Coast, Western, Nyanza, North Eastern, a slim win in Nairobi (three per cent).
It shows a near-tie in Eastern, where Mr Odinga’s running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, and Jubilee coalition partner Charity Ngilu come from.
Strategic shows a comfortable win for Mr Odinga in Coast, Nyanza, Western, North Eastern and Nairobi.
It also shows a slim win for the PM in Eastern. It gives Mr Kenyatta a convincing win in the vote-rich Central and Rift Valley provinces.