Inside Politics

New poll puts Raila ahead of Ruto after choice of deputies

Thursday, June 9th, 2022 00:00 | By
Infotrak Chief Executive Angela Ambitho PHOTO/Courtesy

Azimio-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga has maintained his lead over his rival, Deputy President William Ruto after both named their running mates three weeks ago.

A new poll by Infotrak Research and Consulting that was released yesterday also showed Kenyans were bothered by the rising cost of living. The poll placed Raila ahead with 42 per cent support of those surveyed, with Ruto trailing him at 38 per cent.

It is the same margin another pollster registered in a quick survey done immediately after they picked their deputies on May 16.  The survey by Trends and Insights for Africa (Tifa), a day later, found that Raila had 39 per cent support while Ruto had 35 per cent. Yesterday, Infotrak chief executive Angela Ambitho said the choice of running mates seemed to have had a more negative impact on Ruto, then on Raila.

Caused friction

Ruto picked Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua on May 15, causing unease within his camp that had leaned on Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki. Both hopefuls acknowledged that the choice of Gachagua had caused friction within Ruto’s close circles. 

A day later, Raila chose Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua, who became the first high-profile woman to be picked for the position after the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010.

A poll by the same firm before the two candidates picked their running mates had tied them at 42 per cent. 

“Naming of the running-mate has worked to the disadvantage of Ruto, although it has not made any impact on Raila’s candidature. It has not necessarily led to Ruto’s supporters shifting their allegiance to Raila, but it has increased the number of undecided voters in Ruto’s strongholds,” said Ambitho.

Gachagua has become a butt of jokes online, following his frequent broadsides that have become a good supply of political fodder for Ruto’s opponents. From the latest survey, 95 per cent of registered voters will take part in August, although 19 per cent are yet to decide who they will vote for.

The poll had a sample size of 9,000, with respondents from across the country, and a margin of error of +-1. Raila led in six of the nine larger regions, with firm support in 20 counties. His highest support base is Nyanza, where he obtained 73 per cent endorsement, followed by Nairobi ( 50%). Other regions he led are Coast (49%), Northern Kenya (49%), Western (48%) and Lower Eastern (41%).

Ruto got the highest backing in South Rift (59%) and North Rift (56%). He also led in Mt Kenya (52%), despite efforts by his opponents to reduce his support in the vote-rich region. Although most of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies have been promoting the Raila-Karua ticket, Mt Kenya region is still undecided.

For instance, in Kirinyaga, where Karua hails from, Raila’s popularity has yet to gain much traction as he only received 19 per cent support, while Ruto got 59 per cent. This is despite Karua touring Mt Kenya, where she made a stop-over in her home county, the week after she was picked.

The county is only second to Tharaka Nithi (62%) in the larger Mt Kenya where Ruto has maintained high support.

The poll was an omnibus one funded by different stakeholders.

In Western region, Raila has maintained a strong grip, despite local leaders — Amani National Congress boss Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula — backing Ruto’s presidential bid. The Azimio leader enjoys 48 per cent support in the region, with Ruto at 28 per cent. But Ruto is ahead in Bungoma (43%) and Trans Nzoia (41%), to Raila’s 36 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively. Raila has significant leads in Vihiga, the home county of Mudavadi, who has been promised a Chief Cabinet Secretary position in Ruto’s government, as well as in Kakamega and Busia.

Raila is also ahead in all North Eastern counties except Isiolo. He has the highest backing in Wajir (59%), Mandera (56%), Marsabit (51%), and Garissa (46%); while Ruto leads in Isiolo (50%).

Raila is also ahead in Kisii (57%) and Nyamira (49%), despite the counties earlier being categorised as potential battlegrounds. Ruto, who has been making forays into the region, received 21 per cent and 25 per cent support, respectively. 

Ambitho said battleground areas had increased, owing to high numbers of undecided voters.

Nakuru, Turkana, Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kwale, Tana River, Lamu and West Pokot were found to be battleground areas. None of two leading candidates had significant support over the other.

Angela said they had noticed an increase in undecided voters in Nakuru, hitherto a stronghold of Ruto. Although Ruto still enjoys 46 per cent support and Raila 24 per cent, the number of undecided voters has risen to 30 per cent. 

In Narok and Kajiado, Ruto enjoys slightly higher support, especially in the latter where he received 45 per cent backing against Raila’s 32 per cent. In the former, he had 43 per cent while his opponent had 42.

The survey also found that the topmost concern for most Kenyans was the high cost of living, with 53 per cent of those interviewed saying they want it addressed immediately by the next government.

It was followed by joblessness, development, quality of education and infrastructure. Despite the Azimio coalition placing the fight against corruption on top of its agenda, the poll showed it was the sixth issue they wanted addressed (18 per cent).

The hustlers versus dynasties narrative has also received support, with 2 per cent of those interviewed saying it is a campaign agenda.

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