Opinion polls in Kenya are sponsored propaganda tools to tilt public opinion on who is winning and, or losing. The two main players in this field have been Infotrak Research and Ipsos Synovate, formerly Steadman.
Infotrak is owned by pollster and social scientist Angela Ambitho, while Ipsos’ public face is the old mzungu – Tom Wolf.
While Ipsos since 2007 has remained pro-PNU and its current offshoot, Jubilee, Infotrak polling has been more credible, offering results that mostly tallied with the reality and political shifts in perception.
The third pollster, Maggie Ireri’s TIFA Research, has focused more on counties and gubernatorial race, heralding a new ground in polling at county levels.
Infotrak has moved from interviewing adults of voting age to interviewing real voters, unlike Ipsos, which makes their polling more significant to political players.
Polling believability depends on many factors, including the timing of release. It is no wonder soon after Infotrak released its latest polling numbers placing NASA Leader Raila Odinga ahead of President Uhuru and NASA coalition as more popular than Jubilee Party, Ipsos quickly released their poll, placing Uhuru ahead and Jubilee more popular.
Both pollsters have been recipients of toxic bashing online, with both Jubilee and NASA online soldiers dismissing or supporting the polls whenever is convenient. In the bashing, NASA bashers often take on Ipsos and Wolf, and Jubilee trolls trash Angela Ambitho and Infotrak.
Failure by the pollsters to agree on who is winning has seen other entities mushroom to try and fill the gap, mostly offshoots of either NASA or Jubilee think-tanks.
In terms of which pollster has been most consequential, that goes to Infotrak Research, going by the extent of bashing she has received, and the fervor with which her polling results are contested by her critics. Ipsos has been all along predictable, making their findings less controversial, with critics resigned to the fact that it is aligned to Jubilee.
Five days to the polls and two leading pollsters don’t agree, each having both Raila and Uhuru leading.