Good people, the stakes have never been higher in a presidential poll. What are pollsters telling Prime Minister Raila Odinga?
Simple: he will have to pull all the stops out, in an out-and-out, everything-or-nothing, to run for outright victory in round one of the presidential ballot.
The pollsters are saying that if the presidential election is not decided in round one, a run-off could bring down the curtains on the PM’s presidential bid. But why would that be? First because, I believe, a tight race in round one will get tighter in the second round of balloting.
Second, I believe, the undecided in round one will have to make up their minds come the run-off. There is no knowing which way they will tip the scales.
Third – and most ominously – the PM’s legion of enemies will be waiting to use the run-off to consign him to the political graveyard.
The PM is a couple of years shy of his 70th birthday. If he does not become the next tenant at State House, he will go down in history as a hero who reigned but never ruled.
So, how can he avoid a run-off or, to put it another way, how can he beat his myriad opponents in round one?
The first line of attack is to find a running mate who is politically formidable yet amiable, has a national stature and appeal and has the wherewithal to mount a national campaign.
In other words, Mr Odinga will be choosing a running mate who Kenyans will easily identify with.
Second, the PM must identify popular and visionary candidates for the 47 governors’ seats.
Governors will be the people from among whom Kenyans will be choosing their presidents in future.
It is this that must guide the PM in his search and support for candidates for these positions.
But Mr Odinga must not, at any one time, try to impose his choice of candidates on the people.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) rank and file must, through the established party machinery and free and fair elections, choose the candidates for the positions of governor.
Third, the PM must identify popular political, religious and business leaders in those areas where he has lost support and take them on board ODM.
With these leaders and other party stalwarts, the PM must cover the width and breadth of these regions time and again to change minds.
Fourth, the PM must not imagine, even for a moment, that his opponents have slammed the door firmly shut on him in any of the 47 counties.
What he must do is to aim to have at least 25 counties under lock and key.
Then, backed by his troops, fight his enemies tooth and nail for voters in the rest.
Fifth, what this means is that ODM will have to launch the most mobile, most pervasive, wall to wall campaign Kenya has ever seen.
Therefore, ODM teams will have to fan out across Kenya and carpet bomb the land with clear, crisp, carefully crafted and choreographed messages.
This means that the ODM high command must know the needs of Kenyans in every corner of the country.
The party will then provide candidates at all levels with campaign guidelines to keep all and sundry on message.
But, over and above this, ODM’s commitment to devolution must never ever be lost.
Last, which could be first, if this is going to happen, then Mr Odinga must have a campaign war chest the likes of which has not been seen in the land.
This means fund-raising is going to take centre stage. This, in turn, means donors must be vetted if dirty money is not to get into campaign coffers.
Will this guarantee the PM a first round victory? To begin with, it is not easy to achieve each of the six items I have listed above.
Second, it must be borne in mind that the Kalonzo Musyoka, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta axis is united by a singular motive – anybody but Raila.
When asked to bet on the results of a football game, I usually win. This is because I have always given one answer – the score will be nil-nil at the start of the match. As things stand, my bet is that the PM will win the first round.
He will pull off a Houdini-style escape if he wraps it up at the first round.
Will he lose round two in 30 days? That’s a long time in politics.
Kwendo Opanga is a media consultant firstname.lastname@example.org