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Last-minute decisions by undecided voters largely favour leading candidates

Wolf argued that the Jubilee administration will have to contend with rewarding loyalists in opposition strongholds who despite delivering a substantial amount of votes to Jubilee lost their respective seats/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – Voters are inclined to lean towards leading contenders at the tail end of political campaigns.

Ipsos Research Analyst, Tom Wolf, told Capital FM News on Wednesday that going by the outcomes of tightly contested races including the presidential and Nairobi gubernatorial election, the undecided electorate appeared to have voted in favour of either of the two leading candidates as opposed to those with lower popularity ratings as projected in opinion polls.

“A major thing that people would look at is whether the candidates actually have a chance of winning. If we had opinion polls showing, for instance, all candidates were the same level then perhaps the impact of these debates and other campaign activities would be much greater,” Wolf argued.

“Why would you want to waste your vote for lack of a better word when the race between the two main contenders was so close?” the pollster posed.

According to Wolf, the presidential, deputy presidential and gubernatorial televised debates did not do much to persuade voters on the choices they made on August 8, at least going by the outcome of the polls.

For instance, Ipsos had in its last opinion poll before the General Elections indicated that President Uhuru Kenyatta was going to the polls with a 47 per cent lead against Odinga’s 44 per cent, the undecided voters at the time said to be five per cent. of 4,308 respondents sampled between July 22 and 30.

READ : IPSOS survey shows Uhuru will beat Raila in election

Wolf explained that the official results by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which indicated that Kenyatta garnered 54 per cent of the vote compared to Odinga’s 44 per cent meant that there was a radical shift in the undecided vote and perhaps those supporting the other six presidential candidates in his favour.

“You have a scenario where a passenger comes across three vehicles; two a broken down but are full except for one seat and they got a driver.The third one is brand new with two spare tyres but not passengers and driver. A passenger in a hurry would rather board one of the first two vehicles,” Wolf said drawing an analogy.

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The same situation Wolf said appeared to have obtained in Nairobi where the Governor-elect Mike Sonko and outgoing Governor Evans Kidero were shown to be neck-and-neck with a slight advantage being given by different pollsters to either of them at different periods leading to the August 8 vote.

A poll by Centre for African Progress (CAP) conducted between July 28 and August 1 and published on August 2 appears to have best captured the outcome of Nairobi’s gubernatorial race, 53 per cent of 3,400 respondents at the time picking Sonko as their preferred choice for governor.

Kidero according to the CAP survey at the time would only garner 40 per cent of the vote, Peter Kenneth, and Miguna Miguna both running on an independent ticket placed at four and one per cent respectively.

With an assumption of an 85 per cent voter turnout nationwide, the CAP poll, however, appears to have predicted President Kenyatta’s victory with precision, its 54 per cent projection tallying with final the IEBC tally.

CAP had given Odinga a 43 per cent rating, the final outcome indicating that the Opposition leader secured 44 per cent of the vote.

READ : Poll shows clear win for Uhuru 5 days to presidential election

Should the Supreme Court uphold the re-election of President Kenyatta in the next fourteen days, Wolf argued that the Jubilee administration will have to contend with rewarding loyalists in opposition strongholds who despite delivering a substantial amount of votes to Jubilee lost their respective seats.

“I remember the president and his deputy repeatedly assuring election losers of government jobs. It seems quite clear that these individuals who quit the opposition helped tilt the balance in favour of Jubilee,” he stated.

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Moving forward though, Wolf said the Deputy President William Ruto will have an edge in the 2022 presidential race in which he has declared interest, as it remains unclear who the main opposition candidate for that election will be.

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