Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of Raila Odinga in the first post-nomination poll

Ipsos just released a poll in which President Uhuru Kenyatta leads Hon. Raila Odinga 48-42% among a representative sample of voting age adults. While this is not a particularly good showing for an incumbent with a few achievements to tout, the poll confirms Kenyatta’s frontrunner status. Furthermore, a 6 percentage point lead combined with his structural advantage in the turnout game mean that if the polls do not narrow any further Kenyatta will likely win in the first round come August 8th. In 2013 most public polls consistently over-estimated Odinga’s support by about 2 percentage points by not accounting for turnout patterns.

A few things other things are worth noting from the Ipsos poll:

  1. Polls have tightened over the last few months. As Odinga consolidates the opposition, his poll numbers have converged on Kenyatta’s. This is a trend worth watching over the next few weeks.
  2. The number of undecideds, especially in Coast, Eastern and Western regions, is rather high. This should worry Odinga. Again, Kenyatta has a structural advantage in the turnout game, which means that if Odinga is to have a fighting chance he must ensure that his strongholds register both high turnout rates and give him an even bigger share of their votes than in 2013. That they remain undecided does not bode well for Odinga’s chances. In the table below, Kenyatta’s poll numbers are close to his numbers both in final poll of 2013 and the official election results. Undecideds appear to be voters who sided with Odinga in 2013.Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 9.30.40 PM.png
  3. This poll may be over-estimating Kenyatta’s support in Western region. In 2013 Kenyatta under-performed his poll numbers in Western region by a whole 29 percentage points. And so while his 23% rating in Western region may be a sign that Deputy President William Ruto’s investments are bearing fruit, I would not take these numbers to the bank just yet.
  4. Odinga has made significant gains in the Rift Valley region since 2013. One way for Odinga to force a runoff (or eke out a squeaker of a first round win) would be to peel off enough voters in from the North Rift. He appears to be doing that. His poll numbers in the region in 2013 were spot on, making his 32% rating in the region believable for now. Recent developments also suggest that he is gaining ground in Narok, Bomet, and parts of Kajiado. That should be a source of concern for the Kenyatta team.
  5. It is still a turnout game, and Odinga is trailing. The bulk of undecideds — in Coast, Eastern, and Western regions — appear to be likely Odinga supporters. While this may mean that they are likely to break for Odinga in August, it could also mean that they will remain undecided and stay home on election day. Hassan Joho, Kalonzo Musyoka/Charity Ngilu, and Musalia Mudavadi/Moses Wetangula have their work cut out for them.

While a lot may happen between now and August 8th, it is fair to say that Kenyatta is in a strong position. Odinga has several paths to victory, but success along any of those parts is dependent on the NASA coalition running a near-perfect campaign focused on both increasing turnout and running up the score in their strongholds. To this end the lack of enthusiasm in Coast, (lower) Eastern, and Western regions is definitely not a good sign.

The one thing that should worry Kenyatta is Odinga’s apparent gains in the Rift Valley region. If Odinga gains traction in Bomet, it is conceivable that he would also be able to peel off votes in Kericho. It is not that long ago that both Deputy President William Ruto had to camp in Kericho to avoid an embarrassing loss in a by-election. His preferred candidate ended up winning with 66% of the vote. In Bomet, incumbent Governor Isaac Ruto is backing Odinga. And while he will face a tough time swaying voters to Odinga’s camp, it is not far-fetched to imagine that he could bag around 40%. If the same happens in Kericho then two of the Rift Valley’s most important vote baskets will become swing. And Kenyatta would be in serious trouble.

Note: Nearly all the polls this cycle will not take into account any “likely voter models.” I will do my best to guestimate turnout rates based on passed voting patterns and other variables. 2026 out of 5484 contacted agreed to participated in this Ipsos poll.

The messy story of drug trafficking in kenya (will Lucy spill the beans?)

The story of powerful and connected drug lords running amok in Kenya is slowly trending into the realm of conspiracy theories. First it was a case of MPs – Kabogo, Mbuvi “Sonko”, Mwau and Joho – being the suspected culprits. But after a government report cleared the names of the MPs (on the grounds that no evidence was found against them) it emerged (according to Kabogo and Mbuvi) that President Mwai Kibaki’s infamous “mistress” Mary Wambui and her daughter Winnie Wangui Mwai were also connected to drug-trafficking.

Interestingly, in 2007 a parliamentary report linked Ms Wambui, her daughter and President Kibaki’s principal political adviser Stanley Murage to the thuggish Artur brothers. Quoting the parliamentary committee report:

Evidence adduced before the Committee established that the Artur brothers had direct connection at the highest levels of Government. Mary Wambui and her daughter Winnie Wangui Mwai, were close associates of the Artur brothers. Mr. Stanley Murage, Permanent Secretary and Special Adviser to the President on Strategy and based at State House was a key player in the saga, As will appear elsewhere in this report, the ultimate questions are: what did the Head of Government know about this matter? When did he get to know it and what did he do about it?

The report proceeds…

Artur brothers were enjoying state protection at the highest levels of Government. These involved the registration of their two companies, Kensingston Holdings Ltd and Brother Link International, importation of goods where tax was not paid as well as their strange appointment to the police force as Deputy Commissioners of Police, their use of government vehicles, amongst many others

The report concludes on page 39:

From the evidence adduced to date before the Committee, the gravity of this mater (sic) has emerged. It is for example abundantly clear that the two brothers were conmen and drug traffickers. That they enjoyed protection by the high and mighty in the Government is not in doubt.

The report does not say anything implicating President Kibaki in drug trafficking. But it certainly raises questions about how it is that the Kenyan security authorities have been able to unearth evidence about the involvement of all sorts of actors (from the military to police officers to government bureaucrats) linked to drug trafficking without finding a single individual guilty of an offense.

It might be time Kenyans consulted First Lady Lucy Kibaki about the activities and business relations of her much-hated “co-wife.”

suspected drug trafficking kenyan mps named in parliament

John Harun Mwau, William Kabogo, Gideon “Sonko” Mbuvi and Suleiman Joho are the four MPs suspected of being drug traffickers. Prof. George Saitoti, Minister for Internal Security, made the announcement in parliament. Of the four Mr. Mwau’s mention shocked me the most. For some reason I thought his wealth was exclusively from his business skills and sleaze during the Moi era. Messrs Mbuvi and Kabogo have always had rumors of shadiness around them, with the former being a bona fide jailbird. Other suspected MPs include Eugene Wamalwa and Simon Mbugua.

Drug use is on the rise in Kenyan urban centres. It is a shame that it took the intervention of the US Ambassador for the Kenyan security agencies to expose those involved in the destruction of Kenyan lives.

This is yet another example of how the people entrusted with the future of Kenya are the same ones actively undermining it through sleaze, negligence and outright criminality.

More on this here.