Mudavadi’s candidature, explains Infotrak CEO Angela Ambitho, has great chances if certain candidates do not vie for the top seat: “In fact, if this were to happen, he would absorb approximately 16 per cent of the supporters of the other candidates not in the running.”
When asked about the Deputy PM’s plans to grow his support, Kibisu Kabatesi, Mudavadi’s official spokesman, says too much is being read into the polling numbers. He questions Infotrak’s insinuation that Mudavadi “can only win if all the other presidential aspirants drop out”.
“How is that possible?” he poses. According to Ms Ambitho, Mudavadi will gain most if Raila, Uhuru and Ruto do not vie. While charges at the International Criminal Court and integrity challenges may knock out or slow down Uhuru or Ruto, Raila remains a formidable barrier to Mudavadi’s campaign. In a head-to-head contest, the Deputy PM would beat Ruto by 63 to 41 per cent and Kalonzo 53:47. However, he would be floored by Uhuru 58:42 and Raila 55:46.
Ambitho says Mudavadi can only win against Raila if all other aspirants step down in his favour and he still manages to eat into the PM’s support or to prevent their supporters from choosing ODM.
Tribulations of others
“It imperative to note that other candidates also benefit in the alternative choice scenario,” she says. “As much as Mudavadi may gain if some candidates do not vie, so do other candidates. Remember, he can only gain an average of between 16-20 per cent from the other contenders.”
Concurring that Mudavadi’s chances improve significantly in the absence of most challengers, Handa also notes their support base would not automatically be transferred to Mudavadi. Based on the latest poll, the Strategic Africa boss projects a higher number of undecided voters. This means a Raila victory, as predicted by Infotrak Harris, is less of a certainly against Mudavadi.
ODM Parliamentary Group Secretary Ababu Namwamba’s reading of the situation is that Mudavadi is only second best. Besides, he points out, there is no way everybody will pull out of the race to make his first round strategy a reality.
“If I were him, I would be a very worried man,” Mr Namwamba says. “Being the favoured alternative candidate is not a compliment, but a statement of fact that you can only be a political beneficiary of the tribulations of others.”
Even as they walk their separate ways, the Raila and Mudavadi camps are locked in a war of supremacy in western Kenya. Presently, the battle between the two camps revolves around the Uhuru factor in the forthcoming elections.
Kabatesi claims ODM has been manipulating opinion polls by targeting Uhuru: “The moment it was suspected that Uhuru could team up with Mudavadi, their strategy has been to bolster Uhuru’s numbers,” Kabatesi says. “More than anyone else, Raila wants to face Uhuru in the runoff. He desperately wants Uhuru so he can use the 41-(communities)-against–one strategy (that was used in 2007) in the run-off.”
Dismissing this as propaganda, Namwamba says Mudavadi’s team knows only too well that it is riding on Uhuru’s crest: “It is like (800 metres world beater David) Rudisha hoping to win a race through prayer that his lead challengers should drop out of the race or show up with stomach upsets. Mudavadi’s chances are dependent on sheer luck and factors beyond his control.”