Prime Minister Raila Odinga has acquired the services of a US research and strategic firm to develop a winning strategy for the 2012 elections. Greenberg Quinlan Rosner describes itself as one of the world’s premier research and strategic consulting firms. It provides clients with strategic insight to develop the right messages to achieve their goals. The firm specialises in political polling and campaign strategy, helping political candidates, parties and ballot initiatives.
Among its international clients are former South African presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, former US President Bill Clinton, former VPs Al Gore and Walter Mondale, former UK PM Tony Blair, former Israel PM Ehud Barak, former Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and the first female Australian PM Julia Gillard.
Political parties on the firm’s profile include South Africa’s ANC, Britain’s Labour, Germany SPD, and various committees of the US Democratic Party. “Greenberg Quinlan Rosner’s extensive experience working with issue advocacy organizations throughout the US and around the world has helped countless non-profits, NGOs and labour groups develop successful messages to win support for their ideas and realise their goals,” its website states. The GQR team has been in Kenya since March and carried out a survey to ascertain the PM’s prospects of winning next year’s poll.
The team presented their findings to the PM and his team on August 4. The meeting was held at the PM’s office and attended by a section of ministers and MPs close to Raila. Also in attendance were several technocrats and academics who form the core team of Raila’s strategists. The Raila 2012 campaign secretariat is led by former Kenya Ports Authority managing director Brown Ondego. Members of the secretariat include Steve Njenga, a Kenyan living in the US who reportedly introduced the US firm to Raila, and political scientists Dr Oduor Ongweny and Dr Martin Oloo.
Those who attended the power-point presentation made by the US firm said the survey indicated that Raila would not have a clear win if elections were held today. “Raila Odinga â€” if polls were held today â€” will score 41 per cent of the total vote cast, short of 10 points of what is constitutionally expected for a candidate to be declared President,” states a note by one of those who attended the meeting. Raila will be followed by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who the poll indicated would receive 24 per cent of the total votes cast; Eldoret North MP William Ruto 10 per cent; Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka 8 per and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi 2 per cent.
According to the poll, a Raila vs Uhuru run-off would have Raila narrowly defeating Uhuru with 51 per cent against 43 per cent. “This scenario is shaky taking into consideration that what happened in 2007 may happen again if you find Odinga losing to Kenyatta. It should be avoided,” the survey reckons. The survey looked at a possible Raila versus Martha Karua contest and the results indicated that Raila would win 58 per cent of the vote against Karua’s 33 per cent. In a Raila-Ruto duel, Raila would get 63 per cent and Ruto 26 per cent. Notably, there was no indication that the poll included a Raila-Kalonzo race or why it was ignored.
The poll indicated that Raila would receive more votes from the men. He has drastically lost the female votes and suffered in the decline among the youth vote which now stands at 44 per cent. Raila is however more popular in the rural areas than the urban areas with 44 per cent of the rural folk indicating they would vote for him as opposed to 39 per cent in the urban areas. His highest block of votes is expected from Nyanza (Luo) at 90 per cent while his overall standing in the whole of Nyanza is at 78 per cent, Coast 58 per cent, North Eastern 58, Nairobi 55, Western 53, Rift Valley 33, Central 18, Eastern 37.
The ODM still commands the lead in popularity in Kenya standing at 45 per cent; PNU stands at 14 per cent while ODM Kenya and Kanu tie at 10 per cent each. Those who attended the briefing by the US firm but who declined to be quoted as they did not have authorisation to discuss the findings said the poll indicated that a section of the Kenyan electorate feared the PM may be anti-development. “Will the national mood determine the winner of the 2012 elections? What about the Odinga strength as we approach the elections. 69 per cent of Kenyans think country is headed to the wrong direction. Only 24 per cent of Kenyans think the country is headed in the right direction. The negative mood is due to the bad economy and cost of living which has shot up,” are some of the issues that those in attendance said were raised by the poll.
The poll indicated that 72 per cent of the people would vote for anyone who championed the new constitution. Preferences indicated in the poll for a successful candidate included someone who has a plan for the economy, the fight against graft, anti tribalism, and one who can mop up the women’s vote, persuade the youth and manage and coordinate his presidential campaigns well. Attempts to get comment from the PM’s office were unsuccessful as his spokesman Dennis Onyango did not pick up calls to his cell phone or text messages sent to him.