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October 05, 2012

Poll Shows Kenyan PM Holds Small Lead in Presidential Race

by Gabe Joselow

A new poll shows Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga holding a narrow lead over his rivals in the country’s presidential race.  With five  months to go until the election, it is still anybody’s race.

The newest survey from the U.S.-based polling agency Gallup shows 28.6 percent of Kenyans over the age of 18 support Prime Minister Odinga in his bid for the presidency.  His closest rival, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has 21.5 percent support.

Gallup Regional Research Director Bob Tortora, speaking in Nairobi Friday, said among more likely voters, the race is even tighter.

“But what happens if you now restrict it to those Kenyans who are telling us that they are registered to vote now?  Then the picture changes a little bit and the prime minister and the deputy prime minister are statistically tied,” said Tortora.

In third place is member of parliament William Ruto, who has the support of 14 percent of eligible and registered voters.

Both Ruto and Kenyatta are facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of instigating the violence that followed the disputed presidential election in 2007, in which over one thousand people were killed.

The poll found that 69 percent of Kenyans who are aware of the ICC approve of using the court to investigate the post-election violence, though there was no mention of what impact, if any, that perception will have on the election.

The poll also found that one out of every four Kenyans believes there will be a repeat of violence after next year’s vote.

Looking beyond politics, Gallup also surveyed Kenyans on something called Life Evaluation, asking participants to rank their well-being from a scale of one to ten, with ten being what they imagine to be the best possible life.

The survey showed Kenyans ranked their well-being at 4.3, up from 4.0 in 2006.

Respondents were also asked to rank how they expect to feel about their lives in five years time - a measure of hope. Kenyans ranked their hope at about 6.6.

Tortola said rankings for Life Evaluation and Hope are similar across the continent.

“If you look at Africa in general and begin to compare that to the rest of the world, Africa has a fairly low life evaluation when you look at other regions of the world.  Northern Europe has the highest life evaluation around the world.  And if you look at hope - there is a lot of hope in Africa,” he said.

Gallup’s polling is based on face-to-face interviews with 2,400 Kenyans across the country over the course of three weeks, ending in August.

The survey was funded by a research institution called the East Africa Index.  Gallup plans to conduct three more surveys before the election.