The Mombasa governor race is set to be tight, with Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Mr Mike Mbuvi Sonko separated by only seven percentage points, a new poll has shown.
The Nation Media Group poll conducted by Infotrak Research & Consulting shows Mr Nassir has a 40 per cent approval rating against newcomer Sonko’s 33 per cent. The poll showed 16 per cent of the voters are undecided, giving Mr Nassir and Mr Sonko a considerable playground to add to their tally.
Mr Nassir’s popularity seems to be linked to that of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in Mombasa which stands at 63 per cent, compared to Wiper’s 23 percent. The poll further shows the two candidates were attracting voters from various political parties, with Mr Sonko getting 63 per cent of voters that did not identify with either United Democratic Alliance (UDA) or ODM.
In this category, Mr Nassir had 12 per cent, with 23 per cent undecided.
Mombasa has been a fiercely pro-ODM zone, with Wiper fighting to galvanise its presence, having clinched the Kisauni constituency seat in the 2017 election.
Former senator Hassan Omar, who is vying on a UDA ticket, is third at five per cent, while William Kingi of Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) has one per cent. According to the survey, some other five per cent, outside of the 16 per cent undecided, refused to disclose who they support, a considerable figure that could swing the outcome to any side, considering the small gap between the two top candidates. All the other gubernatorial candidates combined shared 0.5 per cent.
“We respect the Nation’s poll but believe strongly that we are higher and the election will eventually reveal that. A poll we commissioned with 2,500 respondents in the six counties and 30 wards places us at 50 plus per cent,” Mr Nassir said last evening in response to the ranking.
An interesting finding in the Infotrak poll is that experience and track record of development will highly influence the choice of governor at 39 per cent. Mr Nassir, the son of former powerful minister and Kanu stalwart Shariff Nassir, is the chairperson of the Public Investments Committee.
Mr Sonko, on the other hand, served as Nairobi governor before he was impeached in 2020. Although he is coming into the race late, Mr Sonko, who is considered an intruder into the politics of Mombasa, is slowly closing in on Mr Nassir, riding on the strength of the character he plays in public. He says he understands what residents want and has introduced himself to them through the Sonko rescue team, rubbing his opponents the wrong way. But the poll shows that an aspirant's character will only influence the race at a paltry two per cent.
Most inhabitants are Mijikenda, the biggest ethnic voting bloc, with significant presence of communities like the Kamba, Luo, Luhya, Kikuyu and Arab Swahili. Candidates are also exploiting the religious and racial diversities to their favour. While Mr Nassir is a Muslim, yesterday, he picked former journalist Francis Thoya, a Giriama (Mijikenda) and Christian, as his running mate. Mr Sonko has picked Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo, a Giriama and muslim, as his deputy.
The Mijikenda/Arab divide has been responsible for political polarisation, dictating Mombasa politics. The poll shows the governor race will be fiercely contested in the populous Kisauni with 140,299 votes, Mvita (125,635), Nyali (117,241) and Likoni (97,888). Changamwe has 96,883 and Jomvu (76,117). In total, Mombasa has 654,063 voters.
In Kisauni, Mr Sonko leads with 39 per cent, compared to Mr Nassir’s 34. This is understandably so because the former Nairobi boss has picked area MP Mbogo as his running mate. But 17 per cent of those polled remain undecided.
Mr Nassir leads in his Mvita at 48 per cent, while Sonko polled 28 per cent. In Nyali, Nassir has 38 per cent and Sonko (36). In Likoni Nassir has 35 and Sonko (38). In Changamwe, Sonko has 39 per cent and Nassir (34), but the MP leads in Jomvu with 36 per cent, compared to Sonk’s 29 per cent.