The Kenya Forum | Uhuru Kenyatta benefits from TV debate, opinion poll - The Kenya Forum

February 14, 2013


According to the latest polling data, Uhuru Kenyatta came out on top after the TV debate of presidential candidates.

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Uhuru Kenyatta benefits from TV debate, opinion poll

Uhuru Kenyatta benefits from TV debate, opinion poll


Latest Infotrak Poll 15th Feb 2013: Raila Odinga has maintained the lead at 45 % while Uhuru Kenyatta at 42% and Musalia Mudavadi comes in a distant third with 5 %. In the infotrak poll Peter Kenneth,Martha Karua, Mohammed Dida, James Ole Kiyapi and Paul Muite are fourth, fifth sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

14th Feb 2013:

Has Kenya’s historic ‘Great Presidential Debate’ given Uhuru Kenyatta ‘the Big Mo’ in the race for State House? Is the ‘swing’ in his favour? An opinion poll by Ipsos Synovate suggests they might be but there are, as usual, caveats.


On the day after last Monday evening’s live debate between the presidential candidates, Ipsos Synovate interviewed 1,074 people using ‘Computer Aided Telephonic Interviewing’, who had watched it on TV and said they were registered voters.

The response to the survey was that 40 per cent of those questioned said they would vote for Uhuru Kenyatta if the election were held that day (up from 37 per cent at the start of the debate), compared to 35 per cent who said they would vote for Raila Odinga (down from 37 per cent). For the other candidates, seven per cent would have voted for peter Kenneth, four per cent for Mudavadi and two per cent for Karua.

A second question asking who performed best in the debate again saw Kenyatta come out on top with 37 per cent of respondents rating his overall performance against 23 per cent for Odinga, 15 per cent for Kenneth, eight per cent for Karua, four per cent each for Mudavadi and Dida, two per cent for Muite and one per cent for Kiyiapi.


Here the reporting of the poll’s findings by the media gets a little confused.

The NationStandard and Star report that up to 24 per cent of those watching the debate said they are likely to change their minds as to who to vote for based on what they saw on TV.

The Standard, however, goes further by reporting that of 137 respondents who said they were ‘undecided’ at the start of the debate, 40 per cent said they changed their mind and would be inclined to vote for Kenyatta, 17 per cent had switched to Kenneth and 16 per cent to Raila Odinga.


Now to the caveats: this was a poll of people who watched the debate on TV and whose names were included on Synovate’s phone contacts database. The response from the many people who listened to the debate on the radio, and/or for whom English is not necessarily their first language, could have been different.

That said, the Ipsos Synovate poll could be a significant indicator of a change in the direction of the election, coming as it does the day after the publication of Consumer Insight’s survey which also suggested Kenyatta had done better out of the debate (see yesterday’s Kenya Forum posting).


US campaigners refer to the ‘Big Mo’, that is, a candidate getting momentum in a positive direction to his or her campaign. The poll suggests that Kenyatta might just have this in his favour after the first debate.


Then there is the question of ‘swing’.

Neither Kenyatta nor Odinga need to worry about their core supporters, they have those on side (if they are registered). Similarly, neither of the leading two candidates need to be concerned about their opponent’s core supporters because they cannot be won over.

The deciding factor in the election, if Kenyatta and Odinga are running neck-and-neck, or anything like it (most recent opinion polls suggest an average difference of only 2 per cent support between them) will be those voters in the middle, who are making up their minds as to who to support – the ‘swing’ voters.

Things may just be swinging Uhuru Kenyatta’s way.


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