Raila maintains a narrow lead over Ruto in latest poll

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga is marginally ahead of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate William Ruto at 42 per cent to 39 per cent of the vote respectively, with just under a month to the elections.

TIFA: Raila maintains lead in presidential race

This is according to the latest opinion by Tifa Research, which was released yesterday. The three percentage points margin makes the race a statistical dead heat as the difference is just outside the margin of error, which is put at plus or minus 2.5 per cent, and well inside the number of undecided respondents recorded at 10 percent.

The poll also shows that the choice of running mate—Ms Martha Karua for Mr Odinga and Mr Rigathi Gachagua for Deputy President Ruto—has not had significant impact for either of the candidates.

Though Mr Odinga has been widely hailed for selecting Ms Karua, the numbers do not show any significant rise in his support amongst women voters or in the crucial Mr Kenya region.

Asked whether they are satisfied with the choice of running mate and whether the choice would influence their vote, 90 per cent of Mr Odinga’s supporters said they were very satisfied with the choice of Ms Karua while 67 per cent of Dr Ruto’s supporters are satisfied with selection of Mr Gachagua. Dr Tom Wolf, the lead researcher for the study, explained that the appearance and rise of either Prof George Wajackoyah of Roots Party and Mr David Mwaure of Agano Party might be sufficient to deny either Mr Odinga or Dr Ruto a win in the first round of voting, forcing what would be historic run-off between the top two candidates.

The eccentric Prof Wajackoyah of the “legalise marijuana” campaign platform rising from zero to record 4 percent national support, and seven percent amongst the youth, is significant as he has more than the margin between the top two candidates.  

Even then, that 10 per cent of those polled said they were undecided, means that a sway to either side could still see either one of them tip over the requisite 50 per cent-plus-one-vote mark to win in the first round.

The Tifa poll was conducted between June 25 and June 30, with 1,533 respondents drawn from a nationally  representative sample spread across nine zones; Central Rift, Coast, Lower Eastern, Mt Kenya, Nairobi, Northern, Nyanza, South Rift and Western.

Data collection was by telephonic interviews. Although the results largely mirror recent polls by Tifa and other reputable polling firms, they reveal interesting shifts and contradictions.

It found, for instance, that Kenya Kwanza was more likely to win County Assembly, Governor and Parliamentary seats because it had less candidates competing against each other in the downstream polls than Azimio.

Since 2020, Mr Odinga’s popularity rose from 15 per cent to the current 42 per cent, with the earlier rating attributed to the fact that he had not declared his candidacy. Dr Ruto’s popularity, on the other hand, has fluctuated between 35 and 39 per cent during that same period.

Dr Wolf explained that Mr Odinga’s popularity rose since mid-May, thanks to a whopping 17 percentage point gain in South Rift, 10 in Lower Eastern and nine in Nairobi.

While Mr Odinga’s gain in Lower Eastern could be attributed to return of former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to the Azimio fold, it is unclear how he gained a handsome 17 percentage points in South Rift (Narok and Kajiado counties) in just one month, while Dr Ruto lost a massive 33 percentage points.

The Tifa poll in mid-May had Dr Ruto comfortably ahead in the South Rift at 66 per cent to Mr Odinga’s 28 per cent. However, the latest poll saw tables turned as Mr Odinga led with 45 per cent while Dr Ruto’s support dropped to 33 per cent. His popularity, however, dropped slightly in North-eastern by two percentage points. Mr Odinga also gained popularity in Central Rift and Coast. Reacting to the announcement of the results yesterday, however, Dr Ruto said it did not reflect the reality on the ground.

Speaking in Western during a tour of Bungoma and Kakamega counties, Dr Ruto accused his competitors of doctoring polls as a strategy to counter his Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) .

“We have defeated the Azimio brigade on strategies and in all other aspects and they have now resorted to [commissioning] fake opinion polls. Raila’s team should not hoodwink Kenyans with fake surveys because its the voters who will decide,” he said . Echoing the DP’s sentiments, Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua said yesterday in a statement that KKA opinion polls indicate that the alliance will beat Azimio by a huge margin.

“I am a believer of opinion polling. However, what we are witnessing is a campaign to create a perception that Raila Odinga is ahead so as to soften the ground to allow for rejection of the [results] by Azimio and to force formation of a coalition government. [They used the same script] against President Mwai Kibaki,” said Dr Mutua. Dr Ruto’s visit to Western came just two days after Mr Odinga was in Kakamega.He held three rallies in Bungoma and three in Kakamega on day one of his tour of the region.

The DP will today address two rallies in Sabot and Kaptama in Trans Nzoia County before heading to Busia County for three more rallies in Kolanya in Teso North, Lukolis in Teso South and Bulemia in Budalang’i.

Additional reporting by Brian Ojamaa, Shaban Makokha and Onyango K’Onyango