Raila Odinga widens lead against DP William Ruto in new ‘Nation’ poll

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition flagbearer Raila Odinga could be on course to win next Tuesday’s presidential election in the first round, a new Nation poll placing him at 49 per cent popularity shows.

His main rival, Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya Kwanza Alliance, scores 41 per cent, eight points behind. But a lot depends on 7 per cent of the sample – an estimated two million voters – who told interviewers that they have either not decided how to vote or preferred not to give their choice.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

They could all vote for Dr Ruto, a rather unlikely scenario, and force a re-run; or 3 per cent of them could break for Mr Odinga and give him a first round victory.

Readers are cautioned that while accurate opinion polls can predict the outcome of elections, there are many uncertainties involved. Opinion polls can get it wrong and many factors can cause them to be inaccurate. They capture the opinion of the sample at the time of the interview.

The poll commissioned by the Nation Media Group and conducted by Infotrak Research between July 30 and August 1, places Roots Party candidate George Wajackoyah in third place with 2 per cent and Mr David Waihiga of Agano Party fourth with has 0.2 per cent.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

The poll has a sample size of 2,400 respondents, a margin of error of +/- 2 per cent and 95 per cent degree of confidence. The respondents were interviewed through telephone and covered the 47 counties and all the 290 constituencies.

Infotrak conducted its own poll two days later and released the results yesterday. It still polled Mr Odinga at 49 per cent, though the gap between him and Dr Ruto had narrowed to seven percentage points and the undecided shrunk in the two days since the NMG poll by one percentage point to 6 per cent.

Results of the Nation poll are mirrored by another survey by Ipsos also released yesterday, giving Mr Odinga a 7-point lead over Mr Ruto at 47 per cent to 41 per cent.

Both polls show Mr Odinga increasing his margin over Dr Ruto, compared to previous polls in June and July where the two were in a statistical tie.

Both polls also show that the Wajackoyah surge is fading. In July, various polls showed the “Legalise marijuana” candidate coming from nowhere to nudge the 5 per cent mark, which is impressive in an electoral environment where minor party candidates hardly register more than 0.5 per cent.

What made the number significant was that in a race where Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga were running neck and neck, Mr Wajackoyah’s vote looked likely to deny either of them the magic 50 per cent plus one vote to secure a first round victory. With Mr Wajackoyah dropping points, such an eventuality is now less likely.

Mr Odinga’s Azimio also leads in coalition popularity at 48 per cent compared to DP Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance at 39 per cent. Interestingly, Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) leads Mr Odinga’s ODM by 1 percentage point. UDA’s popularity stands at 36 while ODM’s is at 35 per cent.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee has faded to 4 per cent, a number that should worry Mr Odinga as he is depending on the outgoing Head of State to bring out the vote for him in the populous Mt Kenya region.

The latest poll shows an improvement in Mr Odinga’s popularity rating from a tie with Dr Ruto at 42 per cent in May. Mr Odinga has added 7 percentage points to 49 per cent while Dr Ruto’s rating dropped by 1 percentage point to stand at 41 per cent. Mr Odinga seems to be the beneficiary of the 10 per cent undecided voters in May.

Mr Odinga beats Dr Ruto in Nyanza, Lower Eastern, Coast, Northern, Western, and Nairobi. Dr Ruto, on the other hand, is ahead in the South Rift, Mt Kenya and North Rift.

In Nyanza, Mr Odinga’s rating stands at 81 per cent against Dr Ruto’s 12 per cent, while Mr Wajackoyah polled 3 per cent and Mr Waihiga 0.3 per cent.

In Lower Eastern, Mr Odinga, who has won the backing of Ukambani political kingpin and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, has 70 per cent against the DP’s 21 per cent and Mr Wajackoyah’s 1 per cent. Mr Odinga also tops in Northern Kenya where he polled 62 per cent against Dr Ruto’s 25 per cent while in Western he has 60 per cent against DP’s 28 per cent and Wajackoyah’s 2 per cent.

In Nairobi, the Azimio candidate boasts of 50 per cent popularity against 41 and 2 per cent for the DP and Mr Wajackoyah, respectively.

Dr Ruto, however, leads the pack in South Rift, Mt Kenya and North Rift regions where he polled 66, 63 and 67 per cent, respectively, against Mr Odinga’s 28, 25 and 25 per cent.

For Dr Ruto, a 41 per cent score in Nairobi, boasting of an impressive 2.4 million votes, is not in the region of President Kenyatta’s votes in the city in 2017. In that year, the President polled 791,291 against Mr Odinga’s 828,826 votes, having polled 659,490 votes against 691,156, respectively, in 2013.

But with a 63 per cent rating in Mt Kenya against Mr Odinga’s 25 per cent, Dr Ruto could have a reason to worry. In the 10 Mt Kenya counties, President Kenyatta garnered 3.3 million votes in 2017, which accounted for 40 per cent of his national tally of 8.2 million (54.2 per cent).

If you slice off 30 per cent from the 3.3 million – either due to low voter turnout or Mr Odinga taking a slice off it – it would translate to roughly 1 million votes. The effect of this deduction from President Kenyatta’s basket is to reduce his national tally to 47.8 per cent, which would mean he wouldn’t have notched a first round win.

At the Coast, Mr Odinga leads with 62 per cent against the DP who polled 27 per cent with Mr Wajackoyah getting 5 per cent. Mr Odinga had 801,031 votes against President Kenyatta’s 287,066 in the 2017 poll.

While all the national polls have placed Mr Odinga ahead at the Coast, Dr Ruto has since made inroads, winning over Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and MPs in the region. His alliance is fielding ex-governors Issa Timamy (Lamu), Hussein Dado (Tana River), and John Mruttu (Taita Taveta) to recapture their seats, as well as Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Fatuma Achani (Kwale) and Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi).

Mr Wajackoyah has 3, 2 and 3 per cent in South Rift, Mt Kenya and North Rift, respectively.


In terms of gender preference for the presidential candidates, at least 46 per cent of Women prefer Mr Odinga whose running mate is Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, against Dr Ruto’s 41 per cent. Dr Ruto’s running mate is Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.

In terms of male support, Mr Odinga tops with 51 per cent compared to Dr Ruto’s 41 per cent. The poll also indicates that more women than men are still undecided, with the women undecided voters at 10 per cent against men’s 5 per cent. At least 3 per cent of women back Mr Wajackoyah while o.2 per cent support Mr Waihiga. Mr Wajackoyah also has the backing of 2 per cent of men while Mr Waihiga’s support is 0.2 per cent.

The poll indicates that majority of those who back Mr Odinga are convinced by his “experience and development track record”, with the figure standing at 62 per cent compared to Dr Ruto’s 43 per cent, Mr Waihiga’s 25 per cent and Mr Wajackoyah’s 22 per cent.

However, Mr Waihiga leads all the three candidates in terms of his plans for the country with 49 per cent being convinced that he has good plans for the country compared to Mr Wajackoyah with 47 per cent, Dr Ruto 44 per cent and Mr Odinga 22 per cent.

Mr Odinga, however, leads the pack on integrity with 6 per cent saying they will vote for him based on that compared to Mr Wajackoyah’s 5 per cent and Dr Ruto’s 2 per cent.

At least 88 per cent of respondents have confidence that the election to be conducted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will be free and fair, while 4 per cent think otherwise with 8 per cent not sure how it will go.

Nyanza and Nairobi regions have the lowest levels of perceptions on the fairness of the election at 84 per cent while South Rift tops at 92 per cent. The perception on free and fair elections in Lower Eastern and Coast is 91 per cent while in Northern Kenya and North Rift regions it’s at 90 per cent. In Mt Kenya and Western it’s at 89 per cent and 86 per cent in Western, respectively.

In terms of political parties’ confidence in the upcoming elections, Wiper party has the highest level of confidence at 92 per cent followed by Mr Odinga’s ODM and DP Ruto’s UDA at 89 per cent each. President Kenyatta’s Jubilee has 86 per cent confidence while Mr Wajackoyah’s Root ’s rating is at 75 per cent.

Interestingly, in terms of trust in institutions, 80 per cent of those polled trust the National Police Service, with 11 per cent having no trust in them.

At least 78 per cent trust IEBC while 10 per cent do not trust the commission. Media trust stands at 79 per cent, 11 per cent have no trust in it while 10 per cent are not sure.

The report also shows that at least 83 per cent of Kenyans have trust in the Judiciary to resolve election related disputes while 7 per cent having no confidence. At least 10 per cent are not sure whether the courts can amicably resolve the electoral disputes.