By G Oguda
I have seen the survey results from Ipsos Synovate saying things to the effect that a majority of Kenyans agree this country is run badly, but they also agree that Uhuru Kenyatta is the Alpha and Omega of the current crop of politicians. I hear Kenyans are confused on how the two can coexist together. They say Ipsos have played them a good one.
Let me tell you something.
…if the government performs better for ordinary people, then they are less likely to take up arms against it.”
Let’s now reason together.
The question Kenyans were asked by IPSOS Synovate last month, in that publicly discredited poll, revolved around that first point: “In your opinion, are things in Kenya going in the right or in the wrong direction?”, in which a majority (68%) said everything is going to the gutters, confirming the long-held belief that the Jubilee government is all bone and no marrow, all form and no beer. They have, in effect failed the first test of any democratic state to reduce political violence as above: accountability.
Now that Kenyans who were polled last month are unanimous that Jubilee are taking this country to the development sewage, how have Jubilee fared on on the second and most crucial parameter of democracy (legitimacy)?
Since 7 out of 10 Kenyans are angry at the trajectory the country is taking, and we have less than one year to go back to the polls, the Jubilee government is on a maddening race to legitimise their ill-governance on the people who were supposed to have shown confidence in them the last time out. If there is one government that has suffered a crisis of legitimacy since independence, that government, bar none, is this one we are currently having.
So what have they done to wash our faces with hollow optimism? They have turned their guns on the political opinion pollsters.
In March this year, Infotrak published the results of an opinion poll that had indicated Uhuru Kenyatta having a 45% popularity rating against Raila Odinga’s 28%. State House was furious with the poll results, PSCU Director, Munyori Buku, went on a rampage launching a virulent attack on Infotrack, rubbishing the results, and falling short of associating them with the opposition. The main beef, bubbling under, then, was that any pollster not giving Uhuru Kenyatta a first round outright win was never going to be credible in the eyes of those scheming to have Jubilee for a walkover second term.
It reinforces another long-lingering fear among Kenyans of goodwill; that this government will stop at nothing to rule as it pleases, for as long as it pleases. Jubilee are so keen to drive propaganda down our throats, and as Suleiman Shahbal, the habitual Coast elections-loser, gleefully proclaimed to the world in January this year; “Uchaguzi wa 2017 tutashinda, tutashinda kwa nguvu, tutanunua, tutaiba, whatever will be.”
No one is keen to go to the Supreme Court in 2017, so the best option is to seal a 1st round win “whatever will be”, and crucial in the game plan is to associate with pollsters who keep bombarding the Kenyan public with the Jubilee tired line that ‘we shall rule till 2032.’ Any pollster who doesn’t associate with that is destined to get a lashing from the powers-that-be.
But there is one big problem.
Those who have gone to school will tell you that there exists Four Effects of Opinion Polling; (a) The Bradley Effect, (b) The Boomerang Effect, (c) The Sympathy Effect, and (d) The Bandwagon Effect.
Because this isn’t a Political Science Class, let me mention (d) in passing.
The Bandwagon Effect, in political opinion polling, Wikipedia will tell you, is an attempt by the pollster to mess up the minds of voters as to make them cast their ballot for the ‘leading candidate’. This effect is based on the premise that if Candidate X is constantly being portrayed as leading in all the polls, then, because human nature is hardwired to associate with success, a majority of those who, hitherto, would have casted the vote to a rival candidate, would change their minds and vote for Candidate X because casting a vote to the ‘losing’ candidate will be synonymous to spoiling your vote. It works all the time, and it makes pollsters vulnerable to big money politics.
In Kenya, there is an Act of Parliament that requires pollsters to disclose who sponsors their opinion polls, but that clause is ambiguous, prone to manipulation, and only comes into full-effect few months before the general election. Which leaves politicians with ample time to deal a deadly blow to the thought-processes of the majority new voters, constantly being bombarded with dirty government propaganda clothed in milky chocolate, whose minds would have already been made up by the time that clause comes kicking mid next year.
“Elections aren’t won on voting day, they are won way before then,” always remember that mountain of a quote.
There are only two leading political pollsters in Kenya, today – Ipsos Synovate and Infotrack Harris, the latter being led by the ever-beaming Angela Ambitho. The former, a longstanding ruthless behemoth whose pin-up boy is Prof. Tom Wolfe, the ‘Mzungu-Mswahili’. If Jubilee were looking for one of these two to broadcast their hollow agenda to the whole wide world, then your guess would be as good as all of yours.
Prof. Tom Wolf is not any ordinary pollster. For someone who first came to Kenya in 1967 as a United States Peace Corps volunteer – working in the rural villages of Taita Hills teaching in secondary schools there – his rise to the near-top corporate ladder is nothing short of hard work and determination. He comes with an international reputation too, an American with a PhD from Sussex University, UK. If there was someone the Jubilee government would salivate at putting in their stinking bottomless bag of money, that man comes in the lean shape, and shrill voice, of Tom Wolf.
Because prophets aren’t acknowledged in their home turfs, Angela Ambitho will find it difficult justifying her numbers to the press and public, whereas Prof. Tom Wolf just needs to walk with his pidgin Kiswahili decoder and all young voters will be looking at a potential sponsor right in their very eyes. Associating with ‘international faces’ works all the time. Tony Blair, Steven Kay, Karim Khan, name them.
If Uhuru Kenyatta wins 2017 at the first gong, the chaps at Capital Hill will remember the junction where they read this post from, as it was where the rain started beating them.
“I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.” – Erma Bombeck
“I always lose the election in the polls, and I always win it on election day.” – Benjamin Netanyahu