Uhuru and Raila fight for 3.7m votes that could tilt the scales

Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and RailaOdinga’s NASA have cobbled a campaign machinery to get an advantage in 11 counties that could determine who will become Kenya’s President on August 8.

Both sides are armed with facts and figures showing they must now concentrate on getting a majority of 3.7 million votes from the swing counties, even as the parties work on ensuring their strongholds remain tightly within their grasp.

Matters have not been made easy by the latest opinion poll survey conducted by Ipsos Synovate, which rated Uhuru at 47 per cent and Raila at 42 per cent, meaning the election will be too close to call unless the parties work on overdrive to shore up their numbers.

President Uhuru and Raila are therefore expected to engage in a political battle observers say will not only be bruising, but demanding and expensive as they both unleash resources that could make this the most expensive campaign in the country’s history.

In documents separately prepared by the Uhuru and Railaparties and seen by Saturday Standard, the political battle for the swing-vote counties will decide who wins the majority of the 19,687,563 registered voters.

Secured strongholds

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Both parties have an almost equal number of counties as their strongholds, areas they expect to sweep almost all the presidential votes.

But the NASA think-tank believes it can bag more than 8.2 million votes as opposed to Jubilee’s 7.9 million in their strongholds.

A document prepared by the NASA Champions Campaign Team, a group of youths campaigning for Raila, calculates that their candidate will romp home if they can only muster half of the 3.7 million votes that are on offer in the 11 counties earmarked as swing vote areas.

But the Jubilee Party Strategy Team has its own campaign document, which lists only 17 counties as those shared equally with their competitors. The strategy team states that they will garner 7,437,520 votes against NASA’s 6,855,208 with the remaining 13 counties being swing-vote areas.

Jubilee has identified Nyeri, Murang’a, Laikipia, Kiambu, Nakuru, Meru, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Kericho, Baringo, Bomet and Elgeyo Marakwet as counties safely tucked in their corner.

On its part, NASA lists Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Machakos, Makueni, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya as its strongholds.

The NASA team then lists Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Migori, Kisumu, Siaya, Kisii, Makueni, Machakos, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Turkana, Homabay, Kitui, Mombasa, Nyamira and Trans-Nzoia — with a combined total of 8,208,205 votes — as areas they will get without breaking sweat.

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In their strategy documents, both parties agree that Marsabit, Wajir, Narok, Kajiado, Lamu, Garisa, Nairobi, Samburu Tana River and Mandera are swing vote areas that carry the 3,786,455 votes which their presidential candidates must battle for.

Sophisticated strategy

But in its list of battle fields, Jubilee insists that Kisii, Nyamira and Trans Nzoia — with a combined total of 1,236,818 registered voters — are also part of the swing counties to make a total of 5,023,273 votes which could go either way in the August polls.

Speaking about their strategy yesterday, NASA presidential campaign team leader Musalia Mudavadi assured supporters that apart from taking the strongholds and majority votes in swing areas, they will raid Jubilee regions to bring all Kenyans on board.

“We will be in Kapsabet on Sunday. We have been in Baringo, West Pokot and Bomet. In essence we are taking on Jubilee in their own backyards because NASA carries the hope of mama mboga, Jua Kali youths and down-trodden people of all walks of life,” said Mudavadi.

The NASA co-principal expressed confidence, saying “Narok, Kajiado and Samburu were already oscillating towards NASA.”

But Jubilee Head of Secretariat Raphael Tuju scoffed at the NASA arithmetic, saying Jubilee has worked on a sophisticated campaign strategy that would shake the entire country.

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“We are not going to take chances because we cannot allow a group of power-hungry politicians with nothing to offer this country to hoodwink the people. We will campaign to have Kenya united under Jubilee and deliver a clear victory to President Kenyatta,” said Tuju

Uhuru won the 2013 elections with 6,173,433 (50.5 per cent) against Raila’s 5,340,546 votes (43.7per cent). However, the opposition leader led in 26 out of 47 counties.

A total of 12,330,028 Kenyans, representing 86 per cent of the registered voters cast their ballots.

In 2013, Raila got Kisii with 236,831 votes, while Uhuru garnered 95,596 of the 412,945 votes cast. In Nyamira, another swing vote area, Uhuru got 54,071 as Railaharvested 121,590 votes.

In Trans Nzoia, Raila led with 92,035 against Uhuru’s 74,466, while in Isiolo, Uhuru garnered 26,401 against Raila’s 14,108

Whereas NASA had indicated that Mandera and Isiolo are Jubilee strongholds, Uhuru’s party, however, believes that the two counties 241,026 registered voters are swing votes.

Nairobi County, with total 2,304,386 registered voters, is the biggest swing bloc that both the President and Opposition leader are keen to bag in the August election.

In 2013, Uhuru got 659,490 votes (47.2 per cent) against Raila’s 691,156 (49.4 per cent).

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In the swing votes, both Jubilee and NASA hope to use point men to shore up the numbers.

A Jubilee strategist Dennis Chebitwey said his party is sure of taking Marsabit and Mandera counties. The Frontier Party, which has roots in Marsabit and Mandera’s Economic Freedom Party have endorsed Uhuru.

Frontier Party is led by Marsabit governor Ukur Yattani, who was elected on an ODM ticket but later defected. In Mandera, EFP  is led by Senator Billow Kerrow and Governor Ali Roba.

In Garissa and Wajir, the contest between Raila and Uhuru will be pivotal. In 2013, Raila garnered 44,724 votes against Uhuru’s 41,672 in Garissa, while in Wajir, Raila got 49,712 against Uhuru’s 38,927.

The battle in Kajiado and Narok counties could also be close. In 2013 Uhuru got 109,413 in Narok against Raila’s118,623 and in Kajiado the vote was 138,851 for Uhuru and 117,856 Raila.

Elaborate plans

In Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa and Wajir, the issues of pastoralism, drought, terrorism, perceived marginalisation and clan and sub-tribe politics will play an important role in tilting the scales.

Some of the key people that Uhuru’s party will use to win the votes in the region include Majority Leader Aden Duale, arguably the senior most politicians in the region. Kerrow and Eldas MP Adan Keynan, who defected from ODM to Jubilee a few months ago, will also be pivotal in pushing up the votes in the three counties.

On its part, NASA will be banking on former Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim, Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi, Woman Representative Fatuma Mohamed, and Balambala MP Abdikaddir Aden.

NASA has indicated that it will roll out an elaborate initiative that will turn around the economic activities of the pastoralists in the arid and semi arid regions if it win the august polls.

In the plan, the opposition alliance noted that it will establish Pastoralist Livestock Production and Marketing Marshall Plan (PALIPMAP) to cover 29 counties if they take power.

It is in Narok, Kajiado that a fierce battle is expected, with issues of land and marginalisation as key in the political campaigns.

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