Nairobi County Poll: Governor seat a two-horse race with room for third candidate
Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero’s biggest challenger to his seat will be the city county’s current Senator Mike Sonko, according to a new poll released on Thursday.
A report published by local research firm ITF Research Ltd shows that the Governor and the Senator command an equal support of 28 per cent while other potential contenders collective carry just 12 per cent tally.
The results indicate that about a quarter of Nairobi’s voters (24 per cent) are still undecided meaning they could either shift support either of the two or support a newcomer. ITF Director Maggie Ireri said in a statement that the poll was conducted amid speculation that nominated MP Johnson Sakaja and former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru declared their candidature.
“After their formal declaration three days ago, Nairobians would definitely be keen to see if their ratings will go up. Therefore, the results of this survey are baseline against which the candidates’ future campaign efforts can be evaluated” she said.
Nairobi with 17 constituencies is also an important county given nearly two thirds of the country’s economy is generated in the city. When pollsters asked Nairobians who else, apart from Kidero or Sonko, a few mentioned Waiguru, Dennis Waweru or Margaret Wanjiru. Sakaja polled just one per cent.
Both Kidero and Sonko are new entrants into politics. The latter came on the scene in 2011 to vie for Makadara by-election in which he beat seasoned politicians like the late Dick Wathika and former boxer Reuben Ndolo. In 2013, he contested for the Nairobi Senator’s position. He won with a landslide.
Dr Kidero was Mumias Sugar Chief Executive before coming to Nairobi in 2013 with a promise to change the city. Even then, conventional wisdom was that he only got the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM0 ticket because Bishop Wanjiru, who was favourite contender under the party, could not prove she had an academic degree at the time.
In this poll, ITF after interviewing 544 adults found that Mike Sonko is supported mainly by male voters (35 per cent) as compared to his female supporters (22). Dr Evans Kidero has the support of both men and women equally.
In 2013, Kidero got 692,483 votes against Waititu’s 617,839 votes. But Sonko who vied for Senator’s post garnered more votes than what Kidero collected as governor. Sonko got 808,705 votes in a contest where he beat his closest competitor, Margaret Wanjiru of the Orange Democratic Movement who had garnered 525,822 votes.
Sonko is still considered a strong contender to retain the Senator’s seat, if he went for it, with 34 per cent support even though Nairobi’s up to 41 per cent voters are largely undecided on who to vote for between Sonko, Elizabeth Ongoro or veteran politician Beth Mugo.
But the polls also show lack of interest from both voters and aspirants in other elective posts such as Senators and Women Representatives. Ms Esther Passaris (26) and current Women Representative Rachael Shebesh (29) are strong contenders but more than two thirds of voters (36 per cent) are undecided.
The pollsters did not ask respondents why they were selecting particular leaders but Nairobi’s voting patterns could be influenced by the candidate each party nominates to run. For example in 2013, people voted for a senator from the ruling Jubilee coalition but a governor from the opposition alliance CORD.
At the moment, two of the contenders Evans Kidero and Anne Waiguru are also embroiled in corruption allegations which they have strongly denied. Dr Kidero is accused of bribing a judge to rule in his favour during a petition that challenged his election back in 2014. Anne Waiguru who resigned in November is also facing an investigation after a suspect in the NYS scandal listed her as an architect to the scandal.
The county’s 17 constituencies split among the coalitions and so were the wards. With the new voter registration starting this week, more voters are likely to come on board.
The study was conducted between January 30 and February 3 this year through face to face interviews with respondents sampled from households in all the 17 sub-counties. ITF said the sample of 544 adults had a margin of error of 3.7 per cent more or less.