President Uhuru Kenyatta maintains a narrowing lead on opposition leader Raila Odinga in a presidential race overshadowed by concerns about the cost of living, according to a new opinion poll by Ipsos.
Of the 2,026 people interviewed by the researchers, 47 per cent said they would re-elect President Kenyatta if the election were held today, while 42 per cent said they would give their vote to Mr Odinga. Eight per cent were not decided.
Notably, the Opposition has grown in popularity from 34 per cent in January to 41 per cent, reflecting the success of their efforts to build a broad coalition of parties.
The ruling Jubilee Party has maintained a 45 per cent rating.
The survey, conducted between May 11 and 23 at the height of the maize flour crisis, reflects the concerns of the bulk of the population.
The overwhelming majority of respondents — almost three quarters — said they believed the country was headed in the wrong direction.
And almost all of them, 68 per cent, felt things were not right due to the high cost of living. Only a third of Jubilee supporters said the country was heading in the right direction; 52 per cent said otherwise.
However, in terms of approval ratings, more of the respondents said they had confidence in President Kenyatta, with 40 per cent giving him the nod, followed by Deputy President William Ruto (31 per cent), with Mr Odinga at 25 per cent and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka 12 per cent.
Interestingly, the highest number of interviewees said they “had no confidence at all” in Mr Musyoka (39 per cent) while Mr Odinga and Mr Ruto tied at 37 per cent and President Kenyatta beat them all, at 25 per cent.
On job performance, 46 per cent of respondents said they approved of the job President Kenyatta was doing while 49 per cent did not.
Even though 47 per cent would re-elect Jubilee, it paints a contrast in that 71 per cent of Kenyans think the country is headed in the wrong direction while 76 per cent are of the opinion that household economic conditions have worsened in the past three months.
Opposition supporters have the bleakest view of the country, with 91 per cent saying it is headed in the wrong direction, a view held by only 52 per cent of Jubilee supporters.
All respondents — regardless of their political affiliation — seemed to agree that economic conditions had worsened.
Mr Tom Wolf, lead researcher at Ipsos, attributed the findings to the fact that the study was conducted at the height of the unga crisis.
While 79 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as Nasa supporters said they felt their economic conditions had worsened over the past three months, 72 per cent of Jubilee said they felt the same way.
The worsening household economic conditions were the highest ever noted in the country going by the trends since the last election.
MOST POPULAR PARTY
Jubilee remains the most popular party as 45 per cent of respondents mentioned it as the party they “feel closest to”, compared to 41 per cent who felt the same way about Nasa. Two per cent mentioned other parties, five were undecided while six per cent did not take sides.
But then again, slightly over half of respondents, 51 per cent, do not think that political parties have the interests of ordinary people at heart.
This representation was slightly higher among Jubilee supporters, at 57 per cent, against Nasa’s 51 per cent.
In regional terms, Nasa enjoyed the most popularity in Nyanza at 78 per cent, followed by Western (64 per cent), Coast (52 per cent) and Nairobi (53 per cent); Jubilee strongholds were Central (86 per cent), Rift Valley (62 per cent), North-Eastern (59 per cent) and Eastern (53 per cent).
Mr Wolf further explained that factors which might influence the outcome of the next elections include voter turnout and the campaign machinery that most of those vying employ.
But he warned that the data provided therein should not be interpreted as an actual representation of the situation as Ipsos used information from the 2009 census and not the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The electoral body is yet to complete verifying the voters register and confirm the actual registered voters.
Ipsos also cautioned that the opinion poll has a margin of error of 2.18 per cent and that such surveys only measure the views of those interviewed at the time of polling.
People’s views might change over time.