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The lesser known Kenyan pollster who called the presidential election right

“I spent a lot of time in the United States and there I got to learn from the experienced players in the industry,” Onchari said.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – Three weeks prior to Kenyans going to the polls on August 8, a rather unknown opinion poll firm in Kenya predicted a clear win for President elect, Uhuru Kenyatta while the rest of the known firms the likes of Infotrak, Ipsos Kenya and Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) predicted a tight race between Kenyatta and his main rival, Raila Odinga, predictions which in the end fell flat.

Centre for African Progress in the run-up to the August 8 elections predicted that Kenyatta would trounce Odinga at 54pc to 43pc, percentages which at the end proved to match those of the pollster firm.

How did the mysterious firm get it right? Capital FM News sought to seek answers from the man himself, Abel Oyieyo Onchari, Head of Operations for Centre for African Progress.

“I am a magician,” Onchari jokingly stated in his opening statement. He continued: “If you actually go out there and collect data correctly without any kind of guess work, you will always get the correct representation of facts and that is what enabled us to get the correct percentages,” commented Onchari.

On August 2, five days to the polls, Onchari’s opinion poll firm in their findings were very certain that Kenyatta would carry the day when all the votes would have been counted.

It is on this particular day as well, that the findings caused dismay and outrage among some NASA supporters who denounced it and lashed out at Onchari for being sponsored by the Jubilee government.

Onchari said that it is not rocket science for a poll company to get it right; for him, sample size and the correct methodology used would deliver accurate predictions.

“When we started conducting polls in Kenya our sample size was very small. We later decided to stretch the sample size from the usual 2,000 to 10,000 and we had to do this very carefully from all the 47 counties so as to get the actual pattern of voting and that is why the Centre for African Progress is the only firm that published accurate predictions,” said Onchari.

According to the data generated in their last presidential prediction, Centre for African Progress sampled 9,995 respondents across the country through a random multistage stratified methodology.

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In the eyes of the opposition, NASA, the election was a flawed process which was marred by significant irregularities.

The opposition outfit has therefore prepared itself to challenge the legitimacy of Kenyatta’s presidency in the Supreme Court; a declaration which was made by the opposition leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday.

In light of opposition’s move, Onchari said that they missed to read the signs and that the ‘assumption making politics’ phenomenon played a very crucial part in injuring Odinga’s campaign and ultimately dented his fourth attempt at the Presidency.

“During the campaigns, the opposition politicians assumed that the people who showed up in large numbers in their political rallies would vote for them, they also had imaginations that voters in some of their perceived strongholds would vote in their favor, this marked their ultimate downfall,” said Onchari.

Kisii was one of the perceived stronghold regions that the opposition took for granted, according to Onchari.

Prior to the polls, Onchari had also predicted that voters from the Kisii region would largely vote for Kenyatta and his deputy, Ruto.

“Traditionally since 1964, Kisii’s have always voted with Kikuyu’s Meru’s and Embu’s and this only changed in 2007 and 2013 elections when they voted for Raila.

“In 2017 elections, young Kisiis supported Odinga but the elderly voted for Kenyatta and this was attributed to the government’s project to elevate the lives of the elderly by giving them Sh3,500 every month,” said Onchari.

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In Kisii, Kenyatta managed to garner 174,978 votes (43.22pc) against Odinga’s 224,317 votes (55.40pc).

For the Kisii prediction to be right, Onchari said that they had to talk to directly engage them, an element said other firms do not use.

“We had to go to Kisii to find out from the voters whom they preferred as there presidential candidate. We made sure our respondents were Kisii voters and ultimately our findings were accurate,” said Onchari.

Going forward, Onchari said for other pollster firms to be able to get it right, they need to employ professionals, invest in proper equipment and also get  to engage the respondents in the most proper and convenient way.

Besides Kenya, Centre for African Progress prides itself for making accurate presidential predictions in Rwanda and Ghana.

Onchari attributed his prediction success from learning from the best.

“I spent a lot of time in the United States and there I got to learn from the experienced players in the industry and the knowledge I acquired continues to be very pivotal in my line of work,” said Onchari.

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