Why this election, is Raila’s to lose

Why this election, is Raila’s to lose

Unlike Ruto, it seems like every jigsaw of the campaign puzzle is falling in place just at the right time for Odinga

By Peter Opondo

Months to the August general election, a clear shape of how the presidential election is likely to go is beginning to emerge, and this may not be good news for deputy president William Ruto.

The Azimio la Umoja coalition led by Raila Odinga and significantly supported by President Uhuru Kenyatta is slowly but surely turning the country blue.

Last month’s endorsement and unveiling of Raila as the Azimio presidential candidate by a constellation of more than 20 political parties was a key turning moment for the 2022 presidential campaign, perhaps only comparable to the “Kibaki Tosha” moment in 2002.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s decision to back Raila, yet again, was equally significant as it makes the vote-rich Ukambani region practically impenetrable for Ruto.

An earlier move by ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula to team up with Ruto appears to have exposed the two as political lightweights, not in touch with the reality on the ground in their Western Kenya backyard.

According to the latest polls, it appears that outside of the Rift Valley and some sections of the Mt Kenya region, Ruto is now trailing Raila.

In the startup world, entrepreneurs and investors are always reminded about the art of timing. You have to get it right when to launch, scale up, and raise another round of capital. You might have a great product but if you go in too early, you may not have a market and a business. 

The same logic applies to a political campaign.

Unlike for Ruto, it seems like every jigsaw of the campaign puzzle is falling in place just at the right time for Odinga.

President Uhuru’s support for Raila was always going to be a risky political gamble. Increasingly though, this looks like a bet that will pay off. Why, you ask? 

First, Uhuru has been key to behind-the-scenes manoeuvers to weave together a tight network of national and regional political parties and leaders across the country to support the Azimio campaign.

It may have escaped the attention of many, for example, that the North-Eastern region, which, for a long time was leaning towards Ruto, has shifted, a move that is giving former majority leader Aden Duale sleepless nights.

Secondly, election campaigns are always about two key things; persuasion and mobilization. Crowds that show up at rallies are all about persuasion. While this is necessary, it is not sufficient to deliver an election victory.

You still have to mobilize voters to get out and vote. In the last 120 days to the election, you will likely notice that the Azimio campaign will deploy its heavy hitters simultaneously across the country up to and including Election Day.

With such a broad and intricate national network of an election mobilization machine, it should be apparent that Azimio is the better-equipped team than Kenya Kwanza for the crucial job of last-mile voter mobilization.

A blue wave is sweeping across the country, which is why this election is Raila Odinga’s to lose. (

*This article first ran in the Star Newspaper

— The writer is a communications and strategy consultant.

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