How will NASA win this elections? What about Jubilee? We know the two parties are neck to neck, at least from the most recent opinion polls released by independent pollsters Ipsos Synovate and Infotrak Research Consulting and NASA funded International pollster John Zogby. The window through which we can consider the party that has a slightly better chance of winning the elections has been provided by both the NASA and Jubilee winning strategies, so let us delve into them to find out whose strategy has more likelihood to payoff.
The first tool that will help us dissect both the NASA and Jubilee winning strategies is to have a closer look at the voters’ register. The official IEBC voters register has 19,611,423 registered voters. Of these, 8,307,655 are registered in 20 NASA stronghold counties, 7,594,210 are registered in 18 Jubilee stronghold counties and 3,709,558 are registered in 9+2 battleground counties. By voter registration alone therefore, NASA has a head start with 713,445 more votes than Jubilee. If analogised with the game of chess, NASA is definitely playing white, and as we all know, white in chess has the first move advantage which always gives a 52% to 56% probability of winning against black’s 44% to 48% probability of winning. The figures above give NASA a 53.64% first-to-move advantage.
However, we know that this elections is far much complicated than a pure game of chess. First, as much as Jubilee is playing black, Jubilee is the grandmaster or better player (incumbent government plus financial muscle) who has won the first round of the game (2013 elections) when it was playing white thanks to the tyranny of numbers. Secondly, other than the white and black pieces, the elections also provide a second set of pieces that we call battlegrounds. We will come back to the battleground strategies shortly.
NASA winning strategy is therefore defense strategy whereas Jubilees winning strategy must be attack strategy. If two players are equal in strength, then we find that defense strategy is always better than attack. But as noted above, NASA is not the better player in this game, Jubilee is. Jubilee can therefore execute an attack strategy without fearing its weakened defense, as NASA is unlikely to lethally attack back.
The campaigns have so far shown that actually NASA is playing defense through strong consolidation of the strongholds. NASA has done this through heavily funding its governor candidates namely Oparanya to consolidate Western votes, Obado to consolidate Luo Nyanza votes, Nanok to consolidate North Eastern votes, Ongwae and Nyagarama to consolidate Kisii and Nyamira votes, Kibwana to consolidate Lower Eastern votes, and Kingi and Joho to consolidate coastal votes. In their defense play however, NASA has left weak points in Kwale, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Machakos and few battle ground counties like Marsabit and Wajir that have been prone to Jubilee’s attack.
The defensive play has also been witnessed in the campaign programmes, where NASA follows Jubilee’s campaign trail a few days out. For example if Jubilee campaigns in coast, NASA would follow them so as to water down any influence Jubilee might have made in those regions. As noted, NASA has avoided campaigning in Jubilee stronghold counties like Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Murang’a, and has also made very little inroads in other Jubilee stronghold counties like Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, and Baringo.
Jubilee, as has already been noted, must play a serious attacking game. Being the grandmaster, Jubilee’s attack must be very aggressive, very calculated, and very precise. Jubilee has therefore identified North Eastern, Western and Coastal regions as the counties to attack. To do this, Jubilee first started by wooing leaders from counties such as Kwale, Tana River, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Bungoma, Marsabit, and Wajir. These leaders who were initially aligned to ODM joined Jubilee to get funds that they are now aggressively using to gain as much ground as possible for Jubilee in their respective counties.
But Jubilee’s aggressive attack strategy has left a few stronghold counties to become prone to NASA’s non-aggressive attacks. These counties are Meru, Bomet, Tharaka Nithi, Kericho and Nakuru. Other than Bomet and Nakuru, NASA however lacks strong attack soldiers in those counties, thereby basing their attacks solely on the friendly reception the voters in those counties have given them.
The question at this point would be, how much ground is Jubilee making in Kwale, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Marsabit, Wajir, Machakos and Bungoma? Conversely, is NASA able to water down any grounds made by Jubilee through significantly gaining points from Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Bomet, Kericho, and Nakuru?
According to the performance of both parties in the campaign trails, Jubilee hasn’t made much headway in Bungoma and Machakos, but probably made some inroads in Taita Taveta, Tana River and Kwale. Wajir and Marsabit may be very easy for Jubilee to win over given lack of NASA soldiers in those counties. Isiolo, which was a battle ground in 2013, may also become a Jubilee stronghold in 2017.
NASA on the other hand has made some breakthrough in Meru and Tharaka Nithi, and a very significant penetration in Bomet and Nakuru. Kericho has however been a little hostile for the coalition in some areas, and very receptive in others.
In terms of attack and defense, we find that two parties have somehow managed to averagely maintain their advantages in their strongholds. So the real battle is in the battlegrounds.
The battleground counties provide the two parties with 3,709,558 votes up for grabs, with Nairobi accounting for 61% of the votes at 2,250,853 registered voters. In the battlegrounds, the two parties must play attack, which they have both done well. So how have they gained/lost to each other in the battleground counties?
According to opinion polls conducted in Nairobi, NASA already commands 55% of the votes translating to 1,237,969 Nairobi registered voters. The opinion polls also indicate that NASA has managed to turn Kajiado from a Jubilee leaning stronghold to a NASA leaning stronghold, giving NASA a 53% lead in Kajiado – translating to 217,932 registered voters. Marsabit and Wajir have however changed from NASA leaning to Jubilee leaning at an average of 60% in favor of Jubilee. Jubilee is therefore commanding some 85,025 and 97,741 registered voters in Marsabit and Wajir respectively. Isiolo that was a Jubilee leaning has somehow become a Jubilee stronghold thus Jubilee should be commanding about 70% of the votes, translating to 52,737 registered voters.
Given the above, we find that NASA is likely commanding some 1,939,003 registered voters from the battlegrounds against Jubilee’s 1,471,626 registered voters; another head start for NASA by 467,377 potential votes. In total therefore, after considering the campaign strategies so far discussed, we find NASA having an overall head start by 1,180,822 potential votes.
If every registered voter would vote, then NASA would have a round 1 win with 10,246,658 voters (52.2%) and this is where the 10 million strong slogan is coming from. However, we all know that not every registered voter will vote – and the turnout strategy is the next step in the both the NASA and Jubilee winning strategies.
In these strategies, NASA must ensure over 90% turnout in its strongholds. To ensure this, NASA hopes to use the adopt the polling station strategy not only to guard the votes, but to also make sure that every voter in the register per polling station has voted. If these voters are sick, NASA plans to get them from the hospitals, get them to the polling stations to vote, then back to the hospitals. This strategy,if implemented, then the turnout problem will have been dealt with.
Jubilee winning strategy on other hand must be to ensure that turnout in NASA strongholds is suppressed. Jubilee, being the incumbent, may use tactics like terrorism scare e.g. as was done by Frank Underwood in the TV series House of Cards TV Season 5, declare sections of NASA strongholds as violence hotspots in order to increase scary police presence in those areas, and/or instigate sporadic violence in select NASA strongholds e.g. Kisumu in order to disrupt voting.
If Jublee does not implement the unfair voter suppression tactics in NASA strongholds, then the NASA winning strategies are more likely to carry the day.