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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Raila starts to close gap with Uhuru, poll shows

Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses striking doctors at Uhuru Park on February 15 /EMMANUEL WANSON
Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses striking doctors at Uhuru Park on February 15 /EMMANUEL WANSON

ODM leader Raila Odinga appears to have narrowed the gap between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta in the latest Star poll.

According to last week's survey, Raila has gained five percentage points over one month, while Uhuru has lost the same over the same period.

Factors may be the 76-day-long doctors' strike, the month-long university lecturer's strike, a possible nurses' strike, the slow response to devastating drought and attacks in Laikipia — as well as pervasive corruption.

Uhuru is, however, still leading Raila by 20 per cent, scoring 48.1 per cent, compared with Raila's 28.2 per cent.

Respondents were asked who they would elect if the election were held now.

The poll surveyed 2,000 adult registered voters in 16 counties. The margin of error was +/-2.19.

In the poll released on January 17, Uhuru had 53.9 per cent, Raila had 23.5 per cent.

The poll by the Star's research department shows the other NASA principals lag far behind Raila, all with less than three per cent of the votes.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka comes third with 2.5 per cent, then ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi (2.4 per cent) and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula (0.1 per cent).

Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang'ula have formed NASA as the outfit one of them will use to challenge Uhuru on August 8.

The poll also shows the number of undecided voters has declined from 17.5 per cent in January to 16.2 per cent in February.

The sampled counties: Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kiambu, Meru, Machakos, Kisii, Kisumu, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Kajiado, Bungoma, Muranga, Bomet, Nyeri and Garissa.

Raila scored highest in Kisumu (81 per cent), Uhuru's highest score was in Muranga (89 per cent). Uhuru scored lowest in Kisumu at three per cent. Raila was lowest in Muranga at one per cent.

The poll suggests perceived opposition counties would split their votes almost equally between Uhuru and Raila, with the ODM boss marginally ahead.

The two were closest in Machakos where Raila scored 26 per cent and Uhuru 25 per cent. In Bungoma Uhuru would get 32 per cent, Raila 36 per cent.

In Mombasa, which voted for Raila in 2013, Uhuru would manage 30 per cent, Raila 42 per cent.

The poll suggests Raila cannot manage more than 20 per cent in any Jubilee stronghold.

The results were released as it emerged Uhuru's Jubilee Party has identified 13 swing-vote counties likely to decide the election. According to strategy documents, JP also has established 17 counties as core Jubilee zones, the remaining 17 as core NASA zones.

The 13 counties contain 4.75 million of 18.12 million voters registered by February 7 when the IEBC announced results of the third week of voter registration.

The 17 core Jubilee counties have 6,851,826 voters, those in NASA turf have 6,520,088.

In 2013, 12,330,028 Kenyans voted — 86 per cent of registered voters.

Uhuru won with 6,173,433 votes, 50.5 per cent. Raila received 5,340,546 (43.7 per cent).

The President's ratings have declined as the administration grapples with several crises.

The doctors strike enters Day 76 on Saturday, with no resolution is in sight, despite court-ordered mediation by KNCHR and the Law Society of Kenya The government has been roundly criticised over jailing of medics' union officials for contempt of court.

Public university teaching staff also are striking and rejected a Sh10 billion government offer last week.

On Thursday, nurses — who went on strike for nine days last year — threatened another walkout in March if national and county governments do not implement the new pay structure.

Over two million Kenyans face starvation in the devastating East African drought. Livestock are dying in large numbers.

The state was slow to act and Uhuru only declared a state of emergency on February 10.

It released Sh7 billion and is seeking Sh3 billion donations.

Corruption remains a fixture of government and politics. On October 18 Uhuru said he had done everything he could.

Despite these problems, an Ipsos poll released this week indicated people still have more confidence in Uhuru than other leaders.

Sixty-six per cent reported "a lot of confidence" (42 per cent) or "some confidence" (24 per cent) in him.

Of those with a lot of confidence, 72 per cent identified themselves as Jubilee supporters, 10 per cent identified with Cord/NASA.

While 19 per cent said they have no confidence in Uhuru, 34 per cent said the same of Raila.

Among opposition leaders, Raila rates the highest confidence at 51 per cent, that poll suggests.

Overall, the Jubilee government rated 57 per cent confidence, compared with the opposition's 52 per cent.

Twenty-eight per cent said they have "a lot confidence" in Raila, while 23 per cent said they have "some confidence" in him.

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