Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Orange Democratic Movement still top popularity ratings, a new opinion poll shows.
At 36 per cent, Raila leads potential presidential contenders, followed at 12 per cent by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who launched his harshest attack on the PM on Monday, reviving their rivalry.
Kalonzo accused Raila of hitting the campaign trail early under the guise of inspecting development projects and vowed to also roll out immediately his 2012 presidential campaign.
Speaking in Machakos, barely two weeks after Raila toured the area, Kalonzo said his enemies had mistaken his ‘cool’ nature for cowardice.
"Raila comes to Ukambani and they call him Ngumbau (hero); he goes to Central Province and Meru and they call him Njamba (champion); people attending his rallies are given T-shirts bearing his portraits ... is this not early 2012 campaigns?" the VP asked.
And the rivalry between the two is set to intensify as their support soars, according to the survey by Synovate (formerly Steadman), whose findings were released on Tuesday at a Nairobi hotel
But the PM’s charm offensive into ‘enemy territory’ appears not to have yielded much since his popularity rating in Central has shrunk. His fortunes in the Rift Valley also continue to dwindle.
Raila has toured Kigumo in Central, Machakos and Meru in Eastern. He is also scheduled to visit the Rift Valley where his approval rating has fallen to 18 per cent in the face of rebellion spearheaded by his ally-turned-critic Agriculture Minister William Ruto.
The PM’s lead was wiped out when possible groupings by his opponents, particularly the so-called ‘KKK’ alliance, come into picture.
Following Raila and Kalonzo are Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta (eight per cent), President Kibaki (seven), Ruto (seven) and Gichugu MP Martha Karua (six).
A surprise entrant is Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, whose four per cent performance the pollster largely attributes to the enthusiasm in Western Province.
The public give the PM thumbs up for his general performance and sincerity in fighting corruption, perhaps explaining their endorsement of him for the top seat.
Raila’s showing is consistent with his high approval ratings (61 per cent) placing him third after National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende (70 per cent) and the media, which tops the chart with 84 per cent.
Nearly half (46 per cent) approve of the President’s performance, Vice-President (43) while Parliament and the Coalition Government score lowest at 34 per cent.
Many Kenyans (70 per cent) believe the PM is sincere in the fight against corruption compared to 50 per cent each, for the President and Vice-President.
ODM’s popularity has increased to 43 per cent, up from 36 per cent in December. PNU’s has risen by one point to 21 per cent.
The soaring food prices top Kenyans’ concerns with 68 per cent of the respondents lamenting over the problem followed by corruption (59 per cent), poverty (54 per cent) and unemployment (53 per cent).