Presedent Uhuru Kenyatta still leads Raila by far – poll

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President Uhuru Kenyatta atop an armoured police vehicle, one of the 500 vehicles he launched at Uhuru Park yesterday / MONICAH MWANGI

If the election were held today, President Uhuru Kenyatta would defeat opposition chief Raila Odinga by 54 per cent to 32 per cent in the first round, a survey indicates.

However, the poll by the Star’s research department indicates Raila remains the preferred presidential candidate to fly the National Super Alliance (NASA) flag on August 8. The alliance has all but been launched.

The random survey of 2,000 eligible voters was conducted from January 11-13 in 16 counties, based on the number of eligible voters. The margin of error was +/-2.19.

Respondents voting for the President cited development, those preferring Raila said he was more likely to fight corruption.

Recent polls have given Uhuru the victory.

However, analysts say that if the opposition sticks together and fields a single presidential candidate, their odds would improve dramatically and spell trouble for Jubilee.

A lot can happen in seven months to change voters’ minds.

Raila’s NASA comrades — Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and his Amani National Congress counterpart Musalia Mudavadi — would garner three per cent and two per cent, respectively. Ford Kenya Leader Moses Wetang’ula would get only one per cent of the vote.

The survey is likely to leave Raila and his advisers pondering their strategy at a time when the opposition chief is drawing up an elaborate strategy to unseat Uhuru.

However, the poll indicates nearly one-fifth — 18 per cent — of voters are still undecided, seven months to the polls.

The other presidential candidates — including Philip Murgor and Ekuro Aukot — would not win any votes today, the survey indicates.

Also without a single vote for President were DP William Ruto, ex-assistant Minister Peter Kenneth and Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto.

Ruto has declaredhe is backing Uhuru’s reelection and will run for President in 2022.

Kenneth is also backing Uhuru’s reelection. He came a distant fourth in the 2013 presidential contest and is running for Nairobi governor.

Though there is intense debate over who would be the strongest NASA standard-bearer, the poll indicates most Kenyans today want Raila to once again face-off with Uhuru. He ran and lost three times.

Forty-four per cent of Kenyans want Raila to be the joint opposition candidate, while 18 per cent prefer Mudavadi.

Twelve per cent prefer Kalonzo, two per cent Wetang’ula and one per cent Kanu chairman and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.

Twenty-two per cent are still undecided on who should be the opposition candidate.

Kanu has been sending mixed signals on opposition unity. Secretary general Nick Salat says Kanu is part of the movement, a position rejected by other officials.

It is not clear what method the opposition will use to choose its presidential candidate. They plan to unveil their line-up next month.

According to the survey, most Kenyans who prefer Uhuru over Raila cite the need to develop the country and grow the economy, create jobs, fight insecurity, forge unity and fight tribalism.

For example, 83 per cent of respondents said they would vote for Uhuru to develop the country, compared with 13 per cent who said they would vote Raila for the same reason

However, 56 per cent said they would vote for Raila to fight corruption, compared with 36 per cent saying they would choose Uhuru to tackle graft.

Raila and his Cord brigade have made fighting corruption, tribalism and exclusion — and protecting devolution — their rallying cryagainst the ruling coalition.

If the vote were held today, the poll indicates Uhuru would outdo Raila in 11 of 16 counties sampled.

These include Nairobi where the President would win 58 per cent, Raila 22 per cent.

In Garissa, Uhuru would garner 44 per cent, Raila 36 per cent. In Wetang’ula’s Bungoma backyard, Uhuru would get 30 per cent, Raila 29 per cent.

Other counties, and percentages for Uhuru, are Nakuru (74), Kiambu (84), Meru (68), Machakos (44), Uasin Gishu (64), Kajiado (69), Bomet (58) and Nyeri (89).

Raila, however, would defeat Uhuru in Mombasa where he would secure 43 per cent against Uhuru’s 27 per cent.

The Cord leader would also defeat Uhuru in Kisii by 39 per cent to 33 per cent and in Kisumu by 70 per cent to 15 per cent.

In Kakamega, Raila would get 41 per cent, the President 25 per cent.

Nearly all recent polls have indicated an Uhuru victory if the election were held when the questions were asked.

An Ipsos poll on December 21, 2016, indicated Uhuru would get 50 per cent, Raila would get 22 per cent.

The President would get 55.1 per cent to Raila’s 35.1 per cent, according to a poll released in on December 31 by Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli and conducted by University of Nairobi researchers.

However, analysts say the opposition’s fortunes and ratings are likely to improve if they remain united and field a single candidate.

“They can send Jubilee home if they rally behind one candidate and mobilise their bases to register as voters,” Prof Edward Kisiang’ani of Kenyatta University told the star in October last year.

-the-star.co.ke

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