Nairobi — Prime Minister Raila Odinga's approval rating has increased by 12 percent in the latest Ipsos Synovate opinion poll.
According to the research, the premier's rating increased to 46 percent from 34 percent last month.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta follows him at 40 percent from a 27 percent popularity rating in December.
The pollster said that other candidates are trailing the two presidential candidates with a wide margin.
It places Musalia Mudavadi's popularity at 5 percent with Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth at one percent each.
Research Analyst Tom Wolf said Odinga and Uhuru's rise is due to previously undecided supporters who seem to have made up their minds.
"Clearly the dropping-out of several earlier announced candidates (who have now assumed running mate positions) accounts for much of these gains," Wolf said.
Wolf said a presidential runoff is 'imminent' as the top two candidates so far have below the constitutional provision of 50 percent plus 1 support need to be declared winner.
The poll further shows that Western (23 percent) and Coast (17 percent) provinces have the highest number of undecided voters who could have a role in determining the presidential race in the first round.
"My guess is there is going to be a lot of campaigns at the Coast and Western regions in the remaining months," Wolf explained.
Wolf says the nationwide poll was conducted between January 12 and 20 targeting 5,895 registered voters said they were not sure if the turnout in the second round of voting would be similar to round one.
"It would be interesting to know if those who voted in the first round will also vote in the second round especially if they registered to vote in a different area from where they reside. I am not sure if they will be willing to independently pay for the trip three times (having travelled to register, then for the March poll and May for the second round)," he said.
The polls further showed that Odinga is popular in all provinces except in Rift Valley and Central and even beats Mudavadi in Western, here the Cord Coalition has 46 percent popularity against Amani's 29 percent.
Wolf clarified that the poll was done before Mudavadi, Kenneth and Karua had picked their running mates.
Mudavadi picked former Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni as his running mate while Karua settled on former East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) legislator Augustine Lotodo.
Kenneth picked his former Starehe Boys' Centre school mate Ronnie Asumba as his partner for the March 4 poll.
The poll however immediately drew sharp criticism from Mudavadi's Amani Coalition.
His private secretary Kibisu Kabatesi said the polls were a recipe of chaos because of creating perceptions.
"Whereas you would assume that a scientific poll would place all the contestants on a level pedestal, pollsters are roller costing the public into hardened perceptions that will cost this country dearly should their assumed leaders fail to succeed the way pollsters want to project them," argued Kabatesi.
He describes the poll as empty electoral engineering that is divorced from the reality.
"The Synovate poll deliberately and defectively uses faulty sampling weighed in favour of the so-called two horses at the expense of other presidential contestants."
"The net result is that pollsters are setting up Kenyans for post-elections conflict over elections results," he stated.
The poll placed Mudavadi at a popularity rating of 5 percent compared to Uhuru's 40pc and Odinga's 46 percent.