Sunday, March 10, 2013

Uhuru and Ruto defy opinion polls to clinch Round One victory

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President designate William Ruto. Photo/FILE

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President designate William Ruto. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SAMUEL SIRINGI [email protected]

Jubilee coalition has defied consistent opinion poll findings showing its presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta trailing Prime Minister Raila Odinga to deliver a victory in Monday’s General Election.

The victory was sweetened by the fact that the alliance won the elections in the first round despite pollsters predicting a run-off was inevitable.

Since Mr Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto formed the coalition, only one last opinion poll by Ipsos Synovate predicted that the pair would beat the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord) of Mr Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.

The only Ipsos Synovate poll that predicted a UhuRuto win nearly two weeks before the elections gave the alliance a slim margin of 0.4 per cent. The firm predicted that Mr Kenyatta would win by garnering 44.08 percentage points compared to Mr Odinga’s 44.04.

But findings of three poll firms published just five days to the election showed that none of the two candidates would garner the half majority of votes required to deliver a first round victory.

All of them — as had been many other polls before— indicated that the country was headed for a run-off as Mr Uhuru and Mr Odinga were locked in a statistical dead heat of below the 50 per cent threshold.

In its last opinion poll, Infotrak Research, Consumer Insight and Strategic Research suggested that neither of the candidates was likely to clinch the seat in Round One.

However, the polls predicted correctly that Mr Mudavadi of the Amani coalition would emerge a distant third in the first round.

Infotrak Research said 46 per cent of voters would support Mr Odinga while 44.5 per cent would throw their weight behind Mr Kenyatta. Mr Mudavadi would come in a distant third with 4.3 per cent, according to the poll.

Consumer Insight Research said Mr Odinga would beat Mr Kenyatta, with 46.8 per cent against the latter’s 44.3 per cent. Strategic Research reported that Mr Odinga enjoyed the support of 45.7 per cent of those it polled, followed by Mr Kenyatta with 43.8 per cent.

The opinion polls also predicted that Mr Odinga would collect an average of 30 per cent of the votes from the populous Rift Valley.

But the actual results showed that the region, whose political kingpin is Mr Ruto, voted overwhelmingly for Jubilee. The region is home to 3.3 million voters.

However, Mr Odinga was able to collect 60,000 votes from the cosmopolitan Uasin Gishu county, home of Mr Ruto. He also did well in Narok, Kajiado and Turkana counties.

The Jubilee coalition also exceeded opinion poll predictions in northern Kenya, where it dominated Mandera county— taking almost all the seats. It also did well in Wajir and Garissa, contrary to predictions.

For a long time, the Jubilee coalition urged voters to ignore opinion poll findings, claiming the true surveys of how many Kenyans endorsed their candidature would be known on March 4. It has been known — they will form the next Government.

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