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Towards the Finish Line: A Poll Update in an Evolving Political Environment

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This is the fourth of a series of articles that will examine and comment on polls connected to the general election in August 2022, using analytical tools to help the reader judge their legitimacy and possible influence.

With less than a month before the general election, I anticipated at least one more round of national surveys to be conducted/released since my last (and third) article for The Elephant, leaving me with two more pieces to offer: one before and one after August 9. The five main developments and issues covered here are: a summary/comparison of the results of the three presidential polls; consideration of respondents claiming to be “undecided” about their presidential voting intentions; some difficulties in weighing the impact of deputy presidential running mates as well as “the gender factor”; issues related to the interpretation of county-level data and media performance in this regard; and a comparison of the results of the three presidential polls.

Three polls compared: third horse entry?

TIFA Research, Infotrak, and Radio Africa, the three “mainstream pollsters” that this series has been following, all issued findings during the week of July 10th. TIFA completed its survey in the latter week of June, but it delayed data release to provide a customer, the Standard daily, enough time to publish conclusions from the issue-based questions that it had put into the questionnaire. Because these questions constituted roughly one-third of the total content of the survey, TIFA was not required to identify The Standard Group when declaring “the sponsor” of the poll as required by the Publication of Electoral Polls Act of 2012, even though the Standard’s own article reporting and analysing the findings clearly stated that it had engaged TIFA for the purpose. The main change since the previous round of surveys, as shown in the table below, is the emergence of a third candidate – George Wajackoyah – whose initial ratings suggest the profound impact he could have on the “two-horse” race by denying both of them the required “50% + 1” to avoid a second round run-off contest. Before offering some figures – and without casting any personal aspersions on Wajackoyah – the following are some non-exclusive possible motivations for such “minor candidate” ballot appearances for all elective positions in Kenya, in no particular ranking order of importance or actual occurrence: to build one’s public profile for a possible future run, or for shorter term business or professional benefits, or even just for social reasons (e. g., environmental protection).

Who is who and why are they undecided? Again, based on these survey results, we can observe that the fraction of all respondents who were unable or refused to name a preferred presidential candidate has continued to shrink since the beginning of the year, as projected. According to TIFA, for example, it has plummeted by about half, from 30% in January to 14% in late June. At the same hand, it cannot be assumed that all such respondents have not made up their minds and are just too hesitant to announce their vote intentions for whatever reason. Indeed, only credible official results will reveal whether at least some of those declining to reveal their voting intentions have actually concealed them, similar to the significant proportions of respondents in surveys who were “wrong” about Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US election and the UK’s “Brexit” vote the same year. Assuming that is the case, who will profit the most when the true votes are tabulated, Ruto or Odinga?

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