Monitoring Sentiment and Activity After Kenya’s Controversial Presidential Election

29 August 2022

Temi Alabi, Global Operations Analyst

On August 9, Kenyans took to the polls to vote for its fifth ever President. A week later, Vice President William Ruto was declared the winner of the Presidential election with 50.49% of the total votes, followed closely by former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga with 48.85% of votes.

Ruto’s win was controversial; in the weeks leading up to the election, most polls had put Odinga in the lead. In addition, a few hours before the results were announced, four of the seven members of the electoral commission publicly rejected the results, claiming that the vote-tallying process was too opaque.

To better understand public sentiment and the reality on the ground, Premise ran a series of tasks around the election. On election day, we asked contributors about their experiences at the polls and their feelings of safety and security during the election season. Although Kenya’s elections have been historically marked with violence and ethnic clashes, this election season was largely peaceful, with 94% of 963 Contributors reporting no violence at their polling center.

After the winner was announced, our survey results showed that while a majority (55%) of our contributors were satisfied with the results, a significant percentage—32%—were not.

Similarly, when asked whether they agreed with the statement, “I trust that the vote count was honest and transparent”, 61% agreed and 27% disagreed.

We also received insightful video submissions showing how people around Kenya were reacting to the announcement of the results. While many gathered to publicly celebrate Ruto’s victory, some stayed indoors for fear of violence, and others submitted videos explaining why they would have preferred an Odinga victory.

A day after the election results were announced, the defeated candidate, Raila Odinga, announced he will challenge the election results, citing misconduct by the electoral commission, and formally filed a petition on August 22. Next, the Supreme Court will review evidence provided by both parties and determine whether there is a need for a re-election. Kenyans are not new to this process: both the 2013 and 2017 Presidential election results were challenged, with a re-election held in 2017. When asked whether they would participate in a re-election, 71.61% of our contributors said they would.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely as Kenya goes through this post-election period. With over 2.5k weekly active users in Kenya, Premise is able to quickly gauge and measure popular opinion over time, broken down by various demographic characteristics and geography, as well as understand what is actually happening on the ground through photo and video submissions.

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