JUBILEE presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta is now slightly ahead of Raila Odinga, according to the latest opinion poll by Ipsos Synovate.
Uhuru and his running mate William Ruto with 44.8 percent support are now leading Raila and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka who have 44.4 percent. Synovate yesterday said that is "statistically a dead heat."
Only a month ago Raila and Kalonzo had 46 percent support while Uhuru and Ruto were on 40 percent, according to Synovate.
Musalia Mudavadi of Amani coalition is third with 5.2 percent, Peter Kenneth of Eagle 1.6 percent, Martha Karua 0.8 percent, Mohammed Abduba Dida 0.2 percent and James ole Kiyiapi of Build and Restore Kenya 0.1 percent. Only 2 percent remain undecided with eight days remaining to the election on March 4.
Releasing the poll yesterday, Ipsos Synovate analyst Tom Wolf said a run-off was likely. The second round is presently scheduled for April 11 which coincides with the start of the trials of Uhuru and Ruto in the Hague. The opinion polls however indicate that Raila will have an advantage in the second round.
Respondents were asked which ticket they would vote for in a run-off if their preferred team was eliminated in the first round; 29 percent said Raila, 12 percent Uhuru, 21 percent picked other candidates while 37 percent were undecided.
A Synovate poll of those who watched the presidential debate on February 11 gave Uhuru 40 percent support compared to 33 percent for Raila. That apparent victory in the TV debate may have translated into Uhuru's gain in this latest Synovate national poll.
The poll interviewed 5,971 registered voters face to face between February 15 and 19, with Ipsos Synovate being the funder.
The poll indicated that over the last two months, 93 percent of those interviewed have not changed their choice of a presidential candidate with the remaining 7 percent saying they have changed.
On party popularity, Jubilee is ahead with 45.1 percent, followed by Cord at 44 percent, Amani 5 percent, Eagle 1.6 while Narc Kenya has 0.7 percent.
A majority of Kenyans, 53 percent, believe that Uhuru and Ruto will not be able to run the government from Hague if they win as they will be attend their trials at the International Criminal Court. However 36 percent said they can run the government from Hague, 9 percent said they are not sure while 1 percent refused to answer.Most of those who thought government could operate from the Hague were Uhuruto supporters.
On the recent comments by diplomats on future relations with the next Kenya government, 47 percent welcomed such comments, 45 percent objected, while 7 percent said not sure.
Some 48 percent said they did not think that the diplomats' comments would change the way Kenyans will vote in the election but 41 percent thought they would while 10 percent were not sure. Most of those who believe the voting could be influenced by diplomats were aligned to Raila and Mudavadi, according to the poll.
A very high 89 percent said they had confidence in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and believed that it will conduct a credible election. Rigging in the coming elections was unlikely according to 69 percent of respondents.
A high 84 percent expressed their confidence in the media, 72 percent for the judiciary, while just 51 percent had confidence in political parties.
West Pokot, Samburu, Kajiado, and Kakamega counties were identified as the "battleground" counties by Synovate. These are counties where there is a difference of less than 10 percent between Raila and Uhuru.
Nairobi, Trans Nzoia, Vihiga and Bungoma are "contested" counties where the difference between Uhuru and Raila is from 11 percent to 20 percent.
Jubilee has 20 "stronghold" countries while Cord has 19. These are counties where the difference between Uhuru and Raila is more than 20 percent.
The Constitution stipulates that a presidential winner must get least 25% of the votes in more than half (i.e. 24) of the 47 counties. According to Ipsos Synovate, Uhuruto would get the necessary 25% in 29 counties whilst Raila and Kalonzo would get it in 33 counties.