Opinion polls are all the time believable, but with doubt that is why they always say + or – something. Some are more credible than others. In general, people may not believe the polls because they are not pollsters.
The polls are indicators of something, either what the poll administrator wants or what may be the trend. In my opinion, opinion poll results should be taken seriously as indicators but not as the gospel truth.
To take the polls for the gospel truth is to be foolish.
Depending on who is conducting the poll and where it is conducted, the reliability of the results goes up or down and that is why the opinion polls should be taken seriously only as indicators.
At the moment in Kenya, the level of reliability of the pollsters is very low, but still no one should ignore the opinion polls. Local opinion pollsters have international links, if you check, and they are associated in one way or the other.
For NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga to contract such an international opinion firm is a clear indication that he does not trust the opinion polling findings of local pollsters.
There is is also the element that reliability goes up when an international firm is conducting the opinion poll.
There are several factors that go into contracting an international pollster; either you want them to tell you what you want to broadcast to the world – and that they can do very well – and the other is usually more private, the reality on the ground. When it is a political game the reality of what is happening on the ground may sometimes not come out as was expected, and how you consume such intelligence is up to you.
In a political game, there are various reasons why somebody would want to contract a certain pollster because they believe that the person serves him or her better by way of countering his rival.
There nothing wrong in Raila hiring a firm to tell him what he wants to hear. If he has hired the international firm for that, then it is not so much for Raila as for psyching the public to accept a position that may not be the truth, not necessarily what is on the ground.
Opinion polls all over the world have a habit of misleading themselves and the public.
Prof Munene is a political analyst