Kenya – opinion polls suggest Raila is gaining on Uhuru

Star (Kenya)

NASA Coalitionpresidential candidate Raila Odinga address the inaugural rally at Uhuru Park on April 27, 2017.  Photo/Jack Owuor
NASA Coalitionpresidential candidate Raila Odinga address the inaugural rally at Uhuru Park on April 27, 2017. Photo/Jack Owuor

Raila has sharply cut the gap with Uhuru in the presidential election race, according to the latest opinion poll from the Radio Africa Group.

In the survey, 40 percent of respondents said they would vote for Raila Odinga, the Nasa flagbearer, if the presidential election were held today. Yet in the last Radio Africa poll in March, just 24 percent said they would vote for Raila as president.

In March President Uhuru Kenyatta had 51 percent support but this dropped slightly to 49 percent in May. Raila seems to have picked up his extra support from the Undecideds who dropped from 20 percent in March to 10 percent in May.

Read: Uhuru maintains lead over Raila

So Raila is now just 9 percent behind Uhuru in the presidential race, having languished far behind in the opinion polls for the last two years. At times Raila was down to 26 percent support while Uhuru was at 56 percent support.

This is the first opinion poll since Raila was endorsed as the Nasa candidate for president at a rally in Uhuru Park in Nairobi on 27 April, bringing to an end months of speculation on who the Nasa presidential nominee would be.

His running mate will be Kalonzo Musyoka while Deputy President William Ruto will be the running mate of Uhuru.

Read: Why the only way is up for Raila’s ratings

The Radio Africa poll was conducted by Computer Aided Telephone Interview (CATI) between May 2 and 14 with 3,430 respondents over 18 years in 28 counties. The poll carries a 1.7 percent margin of error with a 95 percent confidence level.

Radio Africa and the Star will be conducting monthly polls on the presidential race until the election on August 8.

Those saying they are registered to vote has climbed from 87 percent in January to 98 percent today.

Interestingly Uhuru and Raila are running neck and neck with male voters where they each have 46 percent support with 7 percent undecided. But Uhuru is more popular with women as 51 percent of female respondents say they would vote for him, compared to 42 percent for Raila while 7 percent remain undecided.

Jubilee leads overall with 51 percent support compared to 42 percent for Nasa and 7 percent undecided.

But for parliamentary elections, there is a huge risk factor for both political groupings as 57 percent of respondents said they would be willing to vote for independent candidates, irrespective of party affiliation. Only 37 percent said they would not be willing to vote for an independent. The next president may find it difficult to carry legislation through Parliament if their political blocs are weak and if there are many independent members.

Uhuru’s strongest counties were Nyandarua (97 percent) and Muranga (94 percent) where Raila had virtually zero support. Raila’s strongest counties were Siaya (90 percent) and Homa Bay (91 percent) where Uhuru had negligible support.

In contested areas, Kisii (73-19 percent) appeared strongly for Raila while he also led Uhuru in Garissa ( 50-35 percent) and Kilifi (47-36 percent).

Uhuru was still well ahead of Raila in Bomet (71-28 percent) and Narok (67-33 percent) where Nasa had hoped to make gains.

In Nairobi, Uhuru had a clear lead over Raila (49-37 percent).

Experts believe that the small gap between Uhuru and Raila makes the vote of swing regions like Kisii and the diaspora much more important.

Both leading coalitions have mapped their strongholds and battlegrounds, the latter being regions where support is not guaranteed, but whose vote could tilt the election outcome.

Read: Jubilee maps strongholds, battle zones

More: Cord Zones Kenya Ahead of 2017 Elections

There are 19 million total registered voters. Both Nasa and Jubilee say they are targeting between 10 and 11 million votes for a clean round one victory.

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