A shortlist of 15 vote-rich counties could hold the key to next year’s presidential contest between Vice President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga, making them hotbeds of political campaigning in the account counting back to the August 2022 elections.
An analysis of the last two presidential elections shows that the 15 counties made all the difference between the double wins of the ruling Jubilee Party and the defeats of the opposition coalition, indicating their enormous influence over next year’s polls if past voting patterns are recurring.
In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta beat his main contender for the presidency, Mr. Odinga, by a slim 800,000 votes, and only 8,000 ballots separated them from a run-off based on electoral rules that demand that ‘a presidential candidate winning more than 50 percent of the total votes cast.
More difficult campaign
In the 2017 general election, however, President Kenyatta widened the gap between himself and Mr. Odinga by 1.5 million votes, helped in large part by the 15 counties which collectively gave the Jubilee Party 1.1 million. additional voices.
In seven of the counties – Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Marsabit, Kisii and Nyamira – Mr. Odinga’s votes fell by more than 80,000 in 2017 compared to the 2013 tally.
In contrast, President Kenyatta won nearly 500,000 additional votes in those seven counties in 2017, underscoring the need for Mr. Odinga to campaign harder in those areas to win the hearts of Jubilee voters.
The other eight counties that helped Kenyatta extend his lead over his close rival were Kiambu, Nakuru, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Turkana, Uasin Gishu and Laikipia.
DP Ruto and Mr Odinga have camped in key counties in recent weeks as political campaigns gain momentum, indicating an analytical approach to rival voice-hunting strategies.
Although the Supreme Court overturned the August 2017 election results, largely citing process flaws, the numbers are the only reliable numbers to compare voting patterns with 2013, given that Odinga boycotted the repeated presidential election of October 2017.
The analysis is also based on the assumption that the DP and Mr. Odinga will ultimately be on the ballot.
Importantly, these 15 counties collectively represent one-third of the projected new voters that the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) aims to register by next year’s general elections.
They are home to around 2.8 million of the 9.2 million potential new voters that the election agency seeks to identify.
This means that the DP, which intends to run for president on a party list of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), must fight to keep the turnout high in these regions if it were to reproduce. the feat of President Kenyatta in the last two presidential elections. voice.
Failure to do so would narrow the gap between him and Mr Odinga, as past voting trends show ethnic lines strongly influence voting patterns.
Ruto’s campaign slogan “Hustler nation” emphasized overcoming tribal voting patterns, which could help him reduce his reliance on the nearly 100% turnout in the country. Rift Valley and central Kenya that helped Jubilee take power in 2013 and 2017.
“Don’t vote ethnically, but imitate me because I supported Raila Odinga in 2007 and President Kenyatta in 2013, 2017,” the DP said at a political rally in Nyamira over the weekend.
The public fallout of the DP with President Kenyatta and the fact that turnout in the Mount Kenya region is expected to drop given the absence of a presidential candidate from the region complicates the calculations for the country’s number two.
Mr. Odinga recently camped in these counties, knowing that obtaining a share of the vote would be a huge gain for his presidential ambition.
He began a tour of Mount Kenya with a road trip from Nairobi to Laikipia, tackling eight campaign stages as he passed through Nyeri, Muranga, Kirinyaga and Kiambu counties.
He was greeted by business leaders from the region during a forum organized by the Mt Kenya Foundation.
Subsequently, the ODM chief traveled to Turkana and welcomed delegates from the Rift Valley to Eldoret at Uasin Gishu, where he addressed a huge crowd in the political backyard of DP Ruto.
Mr. Odinga then went on a week-long tour of Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties, and last Thursday he carried out his campaigns in the populous Kiambu.
On Friday, the ODM party leader visited Nyamira and Kisii counties, regions that shifted in the 2017 presidential elections to support Jubilee.
The DP, meanwhile, has camped in the Mount Kenya region for most of Jubilee’s second term since 2018, angering his boss, President Kenyatta, who accuses him of launching premature campaigns that undermined his administration.
Yesterday, the DP returned to Kiambu, a few days after Mr. Odinga visited the county.
challenged the president
A group of Mt Kenya Jubilee MPs including Alice Wahome, Ndindi Nyoro, Rigathe Gachagua, Irungu Kangata and Purity Ngirici challenged the president to support the DP’s presidential candidacy.
The DP has also had numerous campaign stops in Kisii and Nyamira where its leading men include Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maang’i, South Mugirango MP Silvania Osoro and UDA official Omingo Magara.
Based on their past performance in the presidential elections, One Kenya Alliance leaders Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka were unable to gain support outside their territory.
Mr Musyoka hopes to lock in Ukambani’s vote which is estimated at nearly two million votes by next year, unless his political rivals including the governors of Kitui, Makueni and Machakos, Charity Ngilu, Kivutha Kibwana and Alfred Mutua, be seen leaning more towards Mr. Odinga.
In the last two elections, Mr. Odinga benefited from the electoral bloc as he ran on a joint list with Mr. Musyoka, although Mr. Kenyatta also managed to garner important votes.
A recent neighborhood by-election in Makueni, in which an independent candidate defeated the wiper candidate despite campaigning by the three OKA leaders, Mr. Musyoka, Mr. Mudavadi and Mr. Moses Wetang’ula – shook the political credentials of the three leaders.