Uhuru takes commanding lead

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.

tension high in nairobi as eck delays announcement of results

I just called home and my contacts tell me that there is increasing tension in the capital as the ECK continues to delay the announcement of presidential results. This is most acute in Eastlands where many youth have already started taking to the streets to protest what they see as an attempt by the government to rig the polls, especially the numbers coming out of PNU strongholds.

These are all unconfirmed rumors though. The real culprit is the ECK. They have done a great job so far and it is a shame that they are delaying in the tallying of results.

This is a worrying development. The last thing Kenya needs is rioting in the streets of the capital at a time when there is high tension among the members of both PNU and ODM. KBC is saying that Raila Odinga and his running mate Mudavadi are about to make press statements.

Unconfirmed rumors: Moi in hospital? and I also hear that Kibaki was down with fatigue? Any confirmation of this?

More to come soon……

anxiety as kenya awaits election results

It almost 36 hours after the official closing of polling stations across the country but Kenyans still do not know who will be their next president for the next 5 years. As things start the presidential race is still up in the air with Raila leading president Kibaki with just over two hundred thousand votes. Most of the votes in Central province and Rift Valley have been counted. The deciding votes, it seems, will come from Coast, Nairobi and the rest of Nyanza (mostly Luo Nyanza) that have not been counted yet.

The ECK is really underperforming right now. Its been 36 hours! How hard can it be to call Nairobi and inform the commissioners the outcome of results. It is also a shame that most of the delay is happening right under the commission’s nose in Nairobi. There have been allegations of rigging in various constituencies in Nairobi, by both PNU and ODM  candidates.

Mars Group gives Raila a lead of 3.8 m vs. Kibaki’s 3.4. Kalonzo is finally having a decent showing with about 8% of the national vote. This is still too close to call. It’s all wait and see. It’s about 6 am. in Kenya and everyone back there must be quite on edge right now after having waited for so long for the final results. I can only imagine what Kibaki and Raila and their families, friends and respective supporters are going through right now.