President Uhuru Kenyatta would win an election were one to be held today, but falls short of the 50 per cent plus one vote needed to avoid a run-off, the latest opinion poll has shown.
According to the survey by Infotrak, Mr Kenyatta was the preferred candidate for 45 per cent of those interviewed while his closest competitor, Mr Raila Odinga of ODM, was the preferred candidate for 28 per cent.
For one to be declared a winner in a presidential contest in Kenya, one must garner at least 50 per cent plus one of the total votes cast, failure to which the top two candidates would be subjected to a second round of voting, also known as a run-off.
Sunday’s polls showed that while Mr Kenyatta may not be as popular as he was in October 2014 (when he was the preferred candidate for 60 per cent of respondents in a similar survey), he has regained some of the popularity he lost late last year when his government was caught up in corruption allegations.
In October, Mr Kenyatta’s popularity dropped from 60 to 34 per cent while that of Mr Odinga rose from 19 per cent in 2014 to 29 per cent in 2015.
The survey conducted between March 6 and 10, but whose results were released Sunday, showed that Deputy President William Ruto was the preferred candidate for 1.2 per cent of the respondents were an election to be held today.
However, Mr Ruto has indicated that he will not be vying for the presidency next year as he intends to be Mr Kenyatta’s running mate.
Wiper Democratic Movement’s Kalonzo Musyoka was rated favourably by only 2.5 per cent of the respondents.
He was followed closely by Mr Peter Kenneth (of the Eagle Coalition) at 2.2 per cent, while Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, who is expected to launch his presidential bid early next month, had 1.1 per cent.
Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula, who are all Cord leaders, have declared interest in gunning for the presidency but the coalition is yet to settle on a single candidate.
On Saturday, Mr Wetang’ula asked Cord to demonstrate internal democracy when it picks its flagbearer ahead of the next election.
Other potential candidates, such as Ms Martha Karua and Mr Musalia Mudavadi only had marginal support.
Mr Kenyatta, on the other hand, is the presumed Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) presidential candidate, and seems to enjoy a headstart compared to the rest.
Significantly, the survey also indicates that 20 per cent of Kenyans are either undecided on who their popular leader is or claim they have no interest in voting.
“It is important to note that the gauge for popularity here is based on asking respondents to hypothesise if elections were held today, and determine who they should vote for,” said Ms Angela Ambitho, the Infotrak CEO, when she released the poll results on Sunday.
She cautioned that the survey was not indicative of the 2017 presidential elections outcome.
Mr Kenyatta’s popularity was highest in Central Kenya at 83 per cent, Rift Valley (55 per cent) and North Eastern (51 per cent).
His popularity among respondents in Nairobi stood at 46 per cent.
On the other hand, Mr Odinga had the highest support in Nyanza at 56 per cent, followed by Coast (43 per cent), and Western (32 per cent).
His popularity in the capital stood at 28 per cent.
Mr Musyoka attracted the highest likeability level in Eastern region at 10 per cent but scored less than three per cent in all the other regions.
On the other hand, Mr Wetang’ula’s popularity was highest in Western at nine per cent while that of Mr Mudavadi is at two per cent in the same region.
Mr Ruto attracted the support of three per cent from Rift Valley.
The poll also indicated that the Western region (at 27 per cent) had the highest number of those who said they would not vote, those who did not know who their popular presidential candidate was and those who said they were undecided.
The survey, in which 1,800 people were interviewed, also showed that the recently launched JAP had gained traction and had a popularity level of 30 per cent, ahead of Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which was the party of choice for 26 per cent of the respondents.
It also indicated that if elections were held today, 89 per cent of the ruling Jubilee Coalition supporters would elect Mr Kenyatta while 77 per cent of Cord supporters would elect Mr Odinga.
Another seven per cent of Cord supporters would vote for Mr Musyoka while two per cent would vote for Mr Wetang’ula.
“Interestingly, six per cent of Cord supporters would vote for Uhuru (Kenyatta). On the flip side, three per cent of Jubilee supporters would vote for Raila (Odinga), while two per cent would vote for (DP) William Ruto,” said Ms Ambitho.
Among youth under 30 years, Mr Kenyatta was the most popular candidate, with a rating of 40 per cent, while Mr Odinga came second with a 31 per cent likeability.
Another 16 per cent in that age group were either undecided or did not know who their favourite candidate was, while four per cent said they would not vote should an election be held today.
Mr Kenneth attracted five per cent popularity in the same age group while Mr Ruto had two per cent, Mr Musyoka one per cent, and Mr Wetang’ula, Ms Karua and Mr Mudavadi scored less than one per cent.
Mr Kenyatta seemed to attract more men (45 per cent) compared to 44 per cent women, while Mr Odinga showed a similar trend with 31 per cent male and 25 per cent female admirers.
The ODM secretary for political affairs, Mr Opiyo Wandayi, criticised the poll.
“As we speak, who’s Uhuru running against to warrant a rating?” he asked.
Mr Mudavadi also described the poll as “a fraud or a pre-April Fool’s Day hoax”.