It takes little sense to see that the hue and cry generated by the Synovate (formerly Steadman) opinion poll results released last weekend are not entirely without basis. The poll apportioned one potential presidential candidate 47pc and all other potential presidential candidates less than 10pc each.
I don\’t know about you but that just seems extremely politically and socially improbable considering the political scenario in Kenya today unless of course the results are for another country!
Opinion polls are a sensitive issue as they are useful reflectors of societal intentions but they must be done with the utmost professionalism and pass the most stringent of credibility tests.
The results of this poll do not appear to have undergone such a process.
Let\’s talk practically. With a supposed rating of 47pc it follows Raila Odinga would have considerable sway in political affairs across the nation. Well Raila has attempted to use his sway to win multiple by elections and failed: Matuga, South Mugirango and Makadara.
It is only logical that at 47pc the Prime Minister would be in a position to at the very least swing a little by-election his party\’s way. I mean, among the 47pc of Kenyans that would vote for the PM as President it is not entirely unimaginable that thousands of them live in places like Makadara and Matuga and that they would help Raila snag a parliamentary seat.
Yes, ODM won Starehe but it was not because of the PM since we all know Margaret Wanjiru was a No proponent during the Constitution referendum.
Wait there is more. An opinion poll\’s results specifically about a vote for the presidency if elections were held today cannot and should not include the President who is not eligible for any presidential election in this country ever again.
That is what in English is called an anomaly and at 12pc it is a big one. Now either millions of Kenyans do not understand that President Kibaki is in his final term or the methodology and process of the poll was flawed and I highly doubt it is the former.
Consequently it is valid to hypothesise that three things happened when the poll was being carried out: That a) the respondents had no idea or were not clear about what they were being asked, b) the pollsters did not know what they were doing or did not do it right and c) someone knew how they wanted the results to be and the entire poll process was just nothing more than going through the motions.
Back to the political reality of the day. Prime Minister Raila Odinga no longer commands any noteworthy support in the region formerly known as Rift Valley province, a vote rich region that actually made Raila Prime Minister in the first instance. This loss of affection was confirmed by an actual ballot during the referendum when the region voted in massive numbers against constitution and in all intents against the Prime Minister.
A presidential opinion poll is incomplete without data on counties and you would think a research house of pedigree would not waste our time with an incomplete analysis. In the past, poll results would come with complete data on provinces but in all polls so far since the promulgation of the new Constitution I have not seen a poll with that data yet that info is critical.
The issue of running mate is another interesting and highly questionable aspect of the entire poll. There is an attempt to match candidates with running mates that is at best laughable.
On what basis for instance would a serious pollster allow Kalonzo Musyoka and Uhuru Kenyatta to be a valid response to the question of who should be the PM\’s running mate? They are not even in the same party and there exists no political relationship between them. That is tantamount to accepting a response for Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich as a potential Obama running mate.
It is high time that the methodology for opinion polls was examined carefully and research houses made to adhere to set standards. Kenyans are not fools and it is dangerous and ill advised to treat them as such.
(The writer is a commentator on political and social issues)