Kenyan presidential poll close, survey shows
THE RACE for Kenya’s presidency between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has tightened, with less than three weeks before election day and polls showing both candidates lack the support to avoid a secondround vote.
Odinga, a former prime minister, is backed by 47% of voters, while Kenyatta is at 46%, according to a poll by Infotrak released in the capital, Nairobi, on Sunday.
A separate survey by Ipsos showed Kenyatta at 47% and Odinga with 43%, up one point from a May survey. A candidate needs 50% plus one vote and support from 25 of Kenya’s 47 counties to be the winner.
“The outcome will depend on voters’ turnout and which side gets more people out on voting day,” Ipsos researcher Tom Wolf said at a media briefing.
“If the opposition can do that, they can flip this and they can win.”
Kenyatta, 55, is seeking a second term against 72-year-old Odinga. Kenyan elections heighten investor concerns because of unrest that has occurred during three of the past five national votes.
Odinga, who has failed in three previous presidential bids, has warned he won’t concede defeat if the vote isn’t credible and fair.
Kenya is in the throes of a drought that’s spanned three harvests and cut farm outputs leading to shortages of foods, including the staple maize, sugar and milk.
That has driven the inflation rate to the highest level in five years, squeezing families in an economy where almost half of the population survives on less than $2 (R26) a day.
About 40% of those polled expressed confidence in Kenyatta, while 39% said they were confident in Odinga, according to Ipsos.
About 61% said Kenya was headed in the wrong direction, while 44% support the ruling Jubilee party over the opposition National Super Alliance, which got 42% support, Ipsos said.
Kenyatta’s chances of winning in the first round has declined to 49% from 62% in May, according to Emma Gordon, senior analyst at Bath, England-based Verisk Maplecroft.
The race is “too close to call accurately” and avoiding a second ballot has become more difficult, Gordon said.
The government’s “mishandling” of maize shortages may boost the opposition by swinging undecided voters away from Kenyatta, Gordon pointed out.
About two-thirds of Kenyans said they were worse-off economically, citing the high cost of living, hunger and joblessness as the most serious problems they grapple with daily, Ipsos said in a survey released last Wednesday.
Among the most aggrieved are voters in the western Nyanza region, an opposition stronghold, while residents of eastern counties complain mainly of hunger, Ipsos said.
“Kenyatta’s chances of securing a first-round victory have dramatically fallen over the past months due to a series of scandals and missteps during the campaign,” Gordon said.
The Infotrak poll shows support for the key parties, the governing Jubilee Party and main opposition National Super Alliance, tied at 45%, while 49% of those surveyed said the nation was headed in the wrong direction.
Men sit in front of a wall with a message of peace painted recently by local street artist Solomon Muyundo, also known as Solo7, on its door in Kibera slum, one of the opposition leader Raila Odinga’s strongholds in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday.