An Infotrak Harris opinion poll has given opposition leader Raila Odinga a one point lead over President Uhuru Kenyatta, showing him gaining four percentage points in three weeks.
The firm polled Mr Odinga at 47 per cent, up from 43 per cent in its June 30 poll.
It puts Mr Kenyatta at 46 per cent, down from 48 per cent.
It is a large improvement in Mr Odinga’s fortunes especially in a relatively quiet campaign period.
In the interval between the last survey and Sunday’s, Mr Odinga has visited western Kenya once and Mr Kenyatta twice.
Ms Angela Ambitho, the firm’s proprietor, on Sunday described the race as a “statistical dead-heat.”
Ms Ambitho said the dramatic gain resulted from Mr Odinga convincing undecided voters in his strongholds and making inroads into North Eastern and Rift Valley.
“Raila has reduced the number of undecided in his strongholds, while he has made significant inroads in Rift Valley and North Eastern,” Ms Ambitho said of the four per cent increase.
Western, which the poll treats as a Nasa stronghold, has the largest stock of undecided voters, according to Infotrak, at 18 per cent. The national average is six per cent, according to the poll.
That stock of undecided voters in Western declined from 18.1 per cent to 17.8 per cent in the three-week period, a change of less than half per cent which, given normal errors in measurement, is statistically irrelevant.
The changes in the provincial patterns of support for both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga with those three weeks are equally, if not more, dramatic than the national numbers.
Growth in Mr Odinga’s support in North Eastern, the poll claims, is in the double digits, rising from 20 per cent in the June 30 survey, to 36 per cent in yesterday’s survey, an increase of 16 per cent.
In Western, the Nasa candidate’s support is said to have grown by 13 per cent, from 53 per cent to 66 per cent yesterday.
Those who said they would vote for Mr Odinga rose by four percentage points, from 34 per cent to 38 per cent.
Conversely, according to the poll, Mr Kenyatta’s support has basically collapsed in the provinces, falling 15 per cent in North Eastern, 13 per cent in Western, nine per cent in Eastern and six per cent in Coast in three weeks, the poll claims.
“It is really a dead heat right now — a tie statistically. And what will decide who wins in the first round is the number of undecided,” said Ms Ambitho when she released the poll results at her offices in Nairobi.
She went on: “Can this election be won in the first round?
Yes. From the numbers, it is the battle of the undecided that will carry the day.”
The poll, which Infotrak said it funded from its own pocket, consisting of computer-assisted interviews was conducted between July 16 and 22, sampling 2,000 respondents in 30 counties and 100 constituencies.
The claimed margin of error is 2.19 per cent and a 95 per cent degree of confidence.
Ms Ambitho, who released her results two hours after results for an Ipsos poll done on July 3-12, sampling 2,209 people showed President Kenyatta ahead with 47 against Mr Odinga’s 43 per cent, defended her results, citing the time the interviews were done.
“We did our interviews from Sunday July 16 and yesterday 22 (Saturday). Ipsos did theirs starting July 3, closer to our June 30 release than it is to the one we have done now.
In politics, one week can change everything,” Ms Ambitho told Nation by phone.
She also criticised Ipsos’ use of adult Kenyans and not registered voters.
“We used all registered voters in our surveys, and only polled (for the popularity), those who said they actually intended to vote,” she said.
Also for the first time, Jubilee and Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) are tied at 45 per cent national approval ratings, down from 47 and up from 43 per cent, respectively.
In the Infotrak poll, at least half (49 per cent) of those polled said the country was headed in the wrong direction against 47 per cent who said it was headed in the right one, compared to June 30’s 50 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.
Those that said the country was headed in the right direction picked President Kenyatta at 65 per cent as the man responsible, with a majority (40 per cent) of those that thought it was headed in the wrong direction blaming the cost of living.