THE battle lines are becoming clearer. Prime Minister Raila Odinga is hanging on to his lead but it gradually being eroded.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is steady in second place. And the three next presidential hopefuls - Sabatia MP Musalia Mudavadi, Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka - have consolidated their positions as credible contenders.
The latest Infotrak survey was released yesterday morning. Based on a representative sample of 2,400 respondents, it carries a 2 per cent margin of error. If presidential elections were held today, 35 per cent said they would vote for Raila, a 3 per cent drop on his support in the last Infotrak survey in February 2012. Another 18 per cent said they would vote for Uhuru, up from 17.3 per cent in February (although that may be statistically insignificant as the increase is less than the margin of error).
The biggest gainer is Musalia Mudavadi whose support jumped to 8.5 per cent from 3 per cent in February. This was expected after his breakaway from ODM and announcement that he would be standing in 2013 as the UDF presidential contender. The question now is whether his growth will be sustained in other opinion polls later this year.
The two other "second-tier" candidates also showed an increase in support. Ruto was backed by 9.9 per cent of respondents, up from 7 per cent in February. Kalonzo had 8.8 per cent compared to 6 per cent in February. The next group of candidates were well behind: Martha Karua on 3.9 per cent, down from 5 per cent in February; Peter Kenneth on 2 per cent, the same as February; Eugene Wamalwa on 1.7 per cent, up from 1 per cent; and Raphael Tuju on 1.3 per cent, up from 0.6 per cent in February.
In an interesting additional question, Infotrak asked respondents whom they would vote for if their preferred candidate cannot contest. This would be relevant if there is a second round in the presidential election. Mudavadi would appear to be the big winner in a possible second round. He would take 18 per cent of Raila's votes, 21 per cent of Uhuru's, 19 per cent of Kalonzo's, 21 per cent of Kenneth's and 23 per cent of Wamalwa's
However Uhuru would pick up 25 per cent of Ruto's votes and 31 per cent of Kalonzo's if they do not stand. Raila would take 19 per cent of Mudavadi's votes and 29 per cent of Martha Karua's votes if they do not stand. Infotrak also asked who would be the best running mate for the preferred candidate of the respondents. Martha Karua topped the list with 19 per cent of Raila supporters saying they think Martha should be his running mate, 22 per cent of Kalonzo's supporters, 15 per cent of Mudavadi's and 35 per cent of Peter Kenneth's supporters.
A very high 44 per cent of Ruto's supporters wanted Uhuru as his running mate while 36 per cent of Uhuru's supporters wanted Ruto as his running mate. Predictably Uhuru's support was strongest in Central with 55 per cent of the respondents. Ruto dominated Rift with 36 per cent and Kalonzo topped Eastern with 35 per cent. But Raila led at Coast with 55 per cent, North Eastern with 61 per cent, Nyanza with 78 per cent, and Western with 47 per cent.
In Western, Raila was ahead of Mudavadi who had 31 per cent support. Infotrak said that 93 per cent of the respondents indicated they intend to vote in the election. The biggest issues concerning the electorate were corruption mentioned by 22 per cent and implementation of the new constitution cited by 13 per cent.
Infotrak CEO Angela Ambitho said that DPM Mudavadi holds the pole vault as a beneficiary of votes as an alternative aspirant should any of the top contenders decided to quit the race. "Musalia Mudavadi appears to be the alternative presidential candidate for majority of Kenyans if their preferred presidential candidate is not on the ballot. He is the most preferred alternative presidential candidate for supporters of Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka, Peter Kenneth and Eugene Wamalwa," she said.
University of Nairobi political science don Adams Oloo said Mudavadi's rating definitely is at the expense of Raila. He however added that Raila is most likely to meet Uhuru in the run-off unless a super alliance is crafted shortly before the elections. "It is clear there will be a run-off from these figures and as of now unless a major merger like the Narc of 2002 is crafted, there will be a run-off," he says.
Oloo further cautioned presidential aspirants campaigning on the platform of their youthfulness to be wary going by the ten which shows that the youth vote is spread evenly cross the aspirants. The don said all the five top contenders except Mudavadi have a commanding lead in their home turfs. "Uhuru, Ruto, Raila and Kalonzo have consolidated their home support unlike Mudavadi who is beaten by Raila in Western and thus should work hard," Oloo added.
The USIU history lecturer Prof Munene Macharia did not have soft words for Gichugu MP Martha Karua whom he advised to reconsider her bid and instead look at the running mate's position. "Martha Karua is extremely popular as a running mate and not presidential candidate. Perhaps she should concentrate her energies here," he added.
Constitutional law expert Atsango Chesoni asked the coalition government principals to take note of Kenyans' concern over corruption and the constitutional implementation process. "The principals should note these concerns and the Integrity and Ethics Commission should know that Kenyans are concerned about the levels of graft," she added. Both Atsango and Prof Munene said it was encouraging that most Kenyans, at 93 per cent, are willing to cast their votes when the elections are held and asked the IEBC to take advantage of this and roll out massive civic education.