What is in the Opinion Polls?
Popularity is a word that clings to every mind of a normal person with enthusiasm but I have failed to understand why the word sounds so strange to any person no matter whether the subject is important to you at the moment. Well, opinions are there to stay and there is no way I can doubt on that but the same message the opinion polls have been dedicating to Kenyans lately especially opinions touching on political issue is disturbing. Majority of Kenyans keeps asking the polls firm. Whom did you ask? I was not interviewed? The opinion polls are done scientifically where only a sample of a given place is taken.
Researchers then carry out tabulation and sample evaluation method to come up with a final product that reflects the regional balance. I am not here to educate you on political manipulation but to shade lights on this sensitive issue that most Kenyans have failed to understand.
The research centers in Kenya and all over the world have been doing this task over and over and when the final tally is released they are always right or not right at all. In Kenya few days before 2007 general election, Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga was leading his Excellency President Mwai Kibaki by a margin of 2% according to the Synovate and Infotrack Harris opinions poll firms. The two firms cautioned that the margin had an error of+ or- 2 which projected the race to be tuff. That margin error showed plainly that either of the two principals could win the election by mare margin. And that is what happened.
The next general election will be different no matter what opinions polls will be showing as we near the general election. The scope and magnitude of our ethnicity background will takes a big role in determining how we will get our new president. Whether we like or not, the electorate’s know-how of the importance of participating and how the politicians will persuade their supporters to come out in large numbers will dedicate the pace. In this scenario where more than ten presidential aspirants has declared their wish to become the top icon at the helm I find it democracy full of sarcasm. I haven’t declared my support to anyone because none of the party’s manifesto has convinced me enough but the bitter truth is that I will have to be lead by a president elected by majority.
The 2013 general election will not be based on the popularity of the aspirants and that is the fear that is encroaching to my mind what will happen to those supporters who will feel short changed when their favor fails to cling the power when they have been blinded by the opinions polls. Take for an example where only three correspondents in a population of 2000 people. The three may be supporters of one aspirant who may not show off during the election time. The voters who were never polled come out strong to vote for their favorite candidate. Will that be rigging? Absolutely no! Infant for whoever understands the wave of bandwagon will reason in an in-depth thought.
The curtain is open and the ball is rolling for the top five contenders who will show case their muscle and believe or not many will be shocked by the discrepancy that will arise when the votes start streaming. The runoff is indisputable and the second round will be how many people will come out of their cocoons to vote and not the number showcased by the opinions no matter how accurate it can be.
Any of the top five serious contenders Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka, Willliam Rutto and Musalia Mudavadi has a bigger hand in claiming that position regardless of the opinions polls. Kenyans should start adapting to this new trend that will emerge in 2013 if anything about persuading electorates to vote and screening people with figures is anything to go by.
Raphael ''Kapten" Kioma
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Not all of us who question opinion polls in kenya are ignorant. In my case, I am well trained in Statistics. But I question the methodology, how did they arrive at the sample? The sample, the sample, the sample. It should be random and truly representative. Did they poll Registered voters or Likely Voters? Secondly, the pollsters should carry out a Registered voters poll and later a likely Voters poll, in order to show trends and enthusiasm gaps. I am not aware of an up to voters roster. This would make the work of the pollsters easier.
By the way, the opinion polls before the 2007 elections were slightly off the mark. The Exit poll conducted on Dec 27, 2007 by the International Republican Institute (www.iri.org) showed that had Raila at 46.4% , Kibaki 40.3%, and Kalonzo at 10.5%. And that is why even when I raise all these methodological problems in our present polls, I still take them seriously, because they point at the trend, which is: Raila is leading. Surely Raila won in 2007. And he is leading now. So we cannot just dismiss these polls. They are good pointers, but as researchers, we always want a better refined product. And we will get there one day. Remember in 1948, the Chicago Daily Tribune published "Dewey Defeats Truman" based on erroneuous opinion poll data, but Truman won the election.