Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are still neck to neck, this is according to a few opinion polls released this week, some of which are focused on select counties but two of the polls were of national scope. One poll by Radio Africa Group gave Uhuru a win with 49% of the votes with Raila following a distant second at 41%, whereas a poll commissioned by NASA placed Raila Odinga at the lead with 47% of the votes against Uhuru’s 46%. These polls may not be the best indicators of how the results of the 2017 presidential elections will be as they have in the past failed to provide correct predictions. We cannot however ignore their insights.
For the purposes of this article, the best indicators for the 2017 elections have been considered as the 2013 general elections results, the political alignments that have taken place since then, and the possible voting patterns in select counties as hinted to by both scientific and non-scientific opinion polls.
In this analysis we have included two scenarios; that which mirrors the performance of 2013 elections without factoring in new political alignments except for adding Mudavi’s scores to Raila’s (table 1), and a second scenario which incorporates the new political alignments and insights from the opinion polls.
EXTRAPOLATION FROM 2013 SCENARIO
Table 1 provides possible results if the exact voting patterns witnessed in 2013 is reproduced in the 2017 presidential elections.
In this scenario in which all other factors have been held constant except for Mudavadi’s support for Raila, we find that Uhuru Kenyatta wins with 8,343,490 votes; which is 297,619 more votes compared to the votes Raila is likely to get. However, this win does not provide Uhuru with the much needed 50%+1 votes that would propel him to a round one win. To avoid a runoff, Uhuru would need to garner no less than 8,433,431 votes, meaning he would need 89,940 additional votes to pass the 50%+1 mark.
It is important to take note that massaging 89,940 votes is not that hard given the massive government machinery that is at Uhuru’s disposal. What Jubilee would need to do is to inflate presidential votes by 100 votes in about 900 polling stations in Jubilee strongholds and they’ll be home and dry. The constituency returning officers in those strongholds can for sure take care of that!
What mirroring 2013 results to 2017 IEBC voter register tells us is that by voters registration and Musalia lending support to Raila Odinga, Raila has been able to bridge the gap that was there between him and Uhuru Kenyatta. In 2013, Uhuru was ahead of Raila by 832,887 votes, but according to the above data, Raila has so far gained 535,268 votes.
HOW RAILA ODINGA CAN WIN IN 2017 ELECTIONS
We should agree that direct mirroring 2013 results to 2017 elections is improbable. This is because there have been a number of significant changes in the political scenes, one of which being the decision by Musalia Mudavadi to join NASA as described above. Other changes and factors that are of importance are as follows:
- Turnout in NASA strongholds especially in Western and Lower Eastern regions is expected to hit 90% or thereabout. This is because NASA’s key strategies this elections are to mobilise voter turnout in its strongholds and block rigging in Jubilee’s strongholds.
- In addition to Musalia Mudavadi, Raila Odinga has added to his fold Isaac Rutto and Charity Ngilu who were bigwigs in Jubilee’s camp in the last general elections.
- Kisii and Nyamira counties have changed from Raila leaning counties to NASA strongholds. This was witnessed when politicians from the region initially aligned to Jubilee had to decamp, with apologies, back to ODM.
- Although Kwale can be considered a more Jubilee leaning coastal county compared to Mombasa and Kilifi, the fact that Chirau Ali Mwakwere decided to run for governorship in that county under NASA strongly indicates that Kwale remains largely a NASA stronghold. Jubilee’s overall performance in coast however should be expected to increase from ~15% to about 25%. We will use 30% in the calculations given that TIFA found out that 26% of Kilifi voters may vote for Uhuru. Given the absence of MRC menace in coast, the turnout in the coastal counties should also be at par with turnout in other coastal region of about 80%.
- The impact of Charity Ngilu will be such that Jubilee will lose most of the 15% of the votes they got from Kitui in 2013.
- Machakos could have been thought of as leaning towards Jubilee due to Governor Mutua’s endorsement of Uhuru Kenyatta, but if there is a county that has openly rejected Jubilee’s campaigns then it is Machakos. We do not therefore expect much to change in that county.
- Isaac Rutto’s influence in Bomet is real, but although NASA expects to get as much as 50% of Bomet’s votes, 30% is a more realistic expectation.
- Governor Rutto’s influence is expected to spill over to Kericho, Narok and Nakuru, but the margins of the spillover could be around 5-10% increase in favor of NASA.
- Meru is a difficult one. Governor Munya has not been hostile to NASA, allowing NASA to enjoy warm reception in both Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties. Munya has also been accused of being a NASA leaning governor, an accusation that has helped Kiraitu Murungi to divided the county down the middle, meaning that many are buying to the narrative that Munya is a NASA mole. We’ll therefore assume that at least a third of those who still support Munya despite the accusations are likely to also vote for Raila Odinga, an assumption that would give NASA about 15% of the Meru votes. If this assumption plays out, then we’d expect about 10% of Tharaka Nithi voters to also vote for Raila Odinga.
- After the consolidation of the Western block, thanks to Mudavadi and Wetangula becoming NASA principals, it is expected that Bungoma will vote in the same patterns as Kakamega, Busia and Vihiga. Despite this, we will still assume the possibility of Uhuru getting some 10% of Bungoma votes.
- Nairobi and Kajiado are expected to vote more for NASA than they did in 2013. This is according to the latest TIFA opinion polls and numerous other online polls that have largely favored Raila with above 60% rating against Uhuru’s average of 30%. We will therefore use 55% for NASA and 40% for Jubilee in Nairobi and Kajiado counties. Kiambu should also be assumed as part of the online votes, but we have largely retained the 2013 performance of this county, only increasing Raila’s votes from 8% to 10% and adjusting Uhuru’s votes accordingly.
With the above points in mind, the predicted 2017 results by county are as shown in table 2 below.
The above analysis predicts that Raila Odinga will win the 2017 presidential elections with 8,832,835 votes, managing to pass the 50%+1 mark with 137,022 votes, giving him a round one win of 50.8%. This possible win is however contingent on the following:
- That NASA works extra hard to fully mobilise voter turnout in Coastal, Western and Lower Eastern regions,
- That NASA remarkably penetrates Bomet, Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties,
- That Jubilee’s influence in coast regions does not significantly surpass their own projected 30% mark, and
- That Lower Eastern and Western counties solidly vote for Raila Odinga.
If however NASA does not penetrate Bomet, Meru and Tharaka Nithi, and at the same time Jubilee manages to get about 35% of the votes in coastal counties, then the final results, which will lead to a runoff, will likely be 8.5 million votes for NASA against Jubilee’s 8.1 million votes.
For Jubilee to win therefore, and atthe same time avoid a runoff, the party must have a serious penetration in Coastal, Western, and Lower Eastern regions, and simultaneously ensure very low turnouts in most NASA strongholds, especially the same Coastal, Western and Lower Eastern regions.
Given the above, it is very hard to see a scenario where Jubilee wins free and square without either suppressing voter turnout in NASA strongholds or inflating numbers from its strongholds.