Yesterday Kenyans voted in a peaceful general election. Despite a few logistical and technical glitches that delayed the opening of some poll centres, in most of the country polling started on time and without incident.
Even a night time raid by a separatist group in Mombasa that left police officers dead did not significantly alter the process in the region.
The IEBC estimated turnout at upwards of 70%. Many polling stations had to close late since the snaking lines remained long well past the official closing time of 5 PM.
Results started trickling in late in the night and Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta quickly shot to the lead. As at 4PM om Tuesday Mr. Kenyatta leads Mr. Raila Odinga 53%-41% with 40% of the polling centres reporting.
With Mr. Kenyatta’s commanding lead many are wondering whether Mr. Odinga can get enough votes to force a runoff.
So far the situation looks bleak for Mr. Odinga. While he outperformed in Western region, in the backyard of third candidate Musalia Mudavadi, so far results show that he underperformed in most parts of North Eastern and northern Kenya. He also did not meet the minimum votes he required in the Rift Valley.
Regional turnout numbers are not yet out but I doubt they bear any good news for Mr. Odinga.
It is still too early to call the race yet but I think that, contrary to my own predictions, a first round win for Mr. Kenyatta is now on the table.
I put the upper mark on Kenyatta’s lead at 650,000. Beyond this I don’t see how Mr. Odinga will be able to force a runoff. By all estimates both Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga will meet the constitutional requirement of getting 25% of votes cast in at least half (24) of the 47 counties.
My model predicted an advantage to Kenyatta in the first round followed by a runoff. But Mr. Kenyatta significantly outperformed the national polls leading to the election. I estimated that the national polls over-estimated Odinga’s support by about 3 percentage points. It appears that I may have underestimated their overestimation. I am also beginning to think that their regional weighting was worse than I thought.
One curious thing in the poll results is the number of spoilt votes – about 6%. This high number raises (or doesn’t) an interesting legal question. The constitution says that the winning candidate must garner 50%+1 of votes cast. Whether this means only valid votes or not is at this moment unclear to me.
The 300,000+ spoilt votes make a difference in that if they are included Kenyatta gets less than 50% of the votes cast. My eye balling the results doesn’t seem to suggest significant biases of spoilt votes in favor of either candidate. If these votes are audited Kenyatta might still win in first round. If they are simply included with no audit then we may have a runoff in our hands.
Most spoilt votes are likely to have been a case of people putting ballot papers in the wrong boxes and so a simple audit can sort this out.
All this to say that Kenyatta has a commanding lead; Odinga is on the ropes big time; and that the technicalities are such that it might be a while before we get the final tally, depending on the spoilts votes question.
Kenyans are holding their breath, peacefully waiting for it all to play out.