RUTO Kenya’s 5TH President: Post Presidential Election Analysis
Kenya elections are over as William Ruto will be the next president of Kenya from 2022 after winning the polls by a meager margin of 233,000 votes.
Poor digital election campaign tactics coupled with a failed Get Out to Vote (GOTV) drives for Raila Odinga helped Ruto eke out the victory.
At a time when Odinga was a hot favorite to bring favorable results, Ruto's win is a lesson for Odinga's campaign not to take voter engagement issues lightly.
There is a big debate among election strategists that every single vote matters in the elections, which has been demonstrated in the Kenyan elections.
It should have been an easy win for Odinga had he managed to reverse some of his election campaign strategies.
Raila lost the elections by a mere margin of 233,211 votes at a time when 14,212,995 people cast their vote. But he needed only 70,000 more votes to deny the election victory to Ruto since, in that case, runoff elections were to be held.
The runoff elections are mandated in the Kenyan constitution, according to which the winning candidate needs to get a simple majority - 50% of the total votes plus one vote - to become president.
So, where did Raila fall short of bringing his almost 70,000 voters out to the polling stations, which could have forced run-off elections? How can he become the next president of Kenya after Ruto? Let's see.
Raila's Poor Digital Media Campaign Cost Him the Elections
The Digital GOTV Campaign could have easily saved Raila Odinga from a narrow defeat. Raila's campaign needs to acknowledge its mistake of failing to mobilize its voters at a time when every vote mattered.
In any election campaign, there is a clear difference between a candidate's support and the vote. A candidate may have been supported by the majority of the country, but unless he/she is able to bring voters out of their homes to the polling stations, they are not going to win the elections.
The same thing happened with Raila Odinga, who did not bring voters to the electoral stations despite having mammoth public support.
Dry Social Media Handles of Odinga Cost Him Elections
The social media outlets of Raila Odinga are also telling a discouraging story.
Ruto is managing his social media handles more aggressively, which is also demonstrated in the numbers and was evident in the election results.
See the social media data of both candidates below.
|Platform||William Ruto||Raila Odinga|
|2.1 million||1.8 million|
|5.2 million||3.9 million|
Google Doesn't Lie: Odinga's Poor Digital Strategy Exposed by the Search Giant
Google trends official data, which also shows that people were looking for information on Ruto a bit more than Raila Odinga throughout the election cycle. While the difference in Google searches is not massive, Ruto's margin of victory was not considerable either.
The red line shows searches for Odinga, while the blue one shows Ruto searches.
A more intense GOTV drive could have saved Raila from the election loss. Had Odinga's campaign seen these numbers earlier, they would have executed better election campaigns and voter mobilization drives.
Odinga's Failure to Have a Campaign Website
Raila Odinga is still not managing a campaign website, which is another primary reason for his loss. Gone are the days when politicians needed to contact every voter personally to bring them out to vote.
In this digital era, it would have been easy for Odinga to create a website, market it properly, and likely win his election by bringing the voters out. Voter registration could have been managed easily, and Odinga, who lost the election by 233,000 votes, could have easily won the election by double this margin.
While Ruto is also not managing a dedicated campaign website, he is still getting traffic on his deputy president's website, which worked as an election campaigner for him.
For Odinga, it was an absolute necessity to create a website, but his carelessness cost him the election.
Now, if Odinga wants to win the 2027 elections, he must create a campaign website. Without that, victory in the next elections will be impossible.
Failed Facebook Ads Strategy of Odinga
William Ruto's paid advertisement strategy also gives many lessons to Odinga. The publicly available data of Facebook shows that William Ruto's name came in 330 ads from August 2021 to August 2022, as shown in the picture below.
On the other hand, Raila Odinga had only 230 ads running in the same time period. This is the difference between 100 ads, as shown in this picture.
Now, if we look at Facebook's publicly available data, it is easy to see that every single ad was averaging 3,000 impressions.
This means that Raila Odinga could have added almost 300,000 more views to his ads had he launched an equal number of ads compared to Ruto.
And what if Odinga had gone for an all-out assault against Ruto in a Facebook advertisement? What if he ran 500 ads? The difference would have been massive, with minimal additional costs.
Voter Apathy Cost Raila Odinga the Election
Voters were not interested in going out and casting their votes due to rising voter apathy in Kenya. If we look at the stats, young people who are eager to vote, key support for Raila, did not register themselves ahead of the August elections, which contributed to Raila's loss.
For instance, only 12.1 million young voters registered to vote in the elections, which is 5.27% less than in the 2017 elections.
This fall in the voter registration drive was also shown by the numbers, which suggests that Kenya's electoral agency only added 2.5 million new voters in this election against its target of six million.
On the other hand, almost 5.2 million new voters were added to the rolls between 2013 and 2017.
After the Supreme Court's verdict, it's better for Raila not to cry over spilled milk. Instead, he should begin preparations for the next elections, and the GOTV drive should start right now.
If Raila manages to increase voter registration for the next presidential elections, he will surely be the next president of Kenya.
Odinga's campaign needs to connect the dots and see similar patterns across the world. Former President Donald Trump lost his 2020 reelection after Democratic candidate Joe Biden attracted a considerable number of young people.
The Democrats' GOTV drives were exceptional, as Trump could have won the 2020 elections by getting 44,000 more votes in the states of Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin combined.
The same was the case in the 2016 US presidential elections, as Trump won by a margin of just 80,000 votes in three states.
So, increasing voter turnout is the key for Raila if he wants to win the 2027 presidential elections.
Creating a Sense of Urgency in Voters
Voters are not expected to come out to vote when they know that the candidate is already leading the polls. Raila was leading most of the polls, which made voters believe that he would easily win the elections. So, voters stayed at their homes, which resulted in Raila's loss, and stopped him from becoming the next president of Kenya.
In any election campaign, a sense of urgency needs to be instilled in voters. Even if candidates are leading in any polls, they should not brag in front of voters until the final result arrives.
Top political campaigns pursue this tactic with their voters as well. Take the example of American Senator Raphael Warnock, for instance. Below is the picture of his email sent to his email subscribers about fundraising. He is leading all the polls big time, but he keeps on telling people that he is lagging behind his competitor by a small margin.
Emotional voters ended up donating to his campaign, thinking that their contribution might help him in closing the gap. So, the candidate who is already ahead in polls ends up further leading the elections.
On the other hand, if candidates tell people that they are leading, voter apathy increases, which results in low turnout.
Now apply this to Raila Odinga's campaign:
- Raila Odinga has been leading national polls since May.
- His voters ended up taking things easy.
- Ruto's campaign grabbed the opportunity to bring voters out in big numbers.
- In 20 out of 47 Kenyan counties where Ruto led the elections, turnout was more than 70%, exceeding 75% in six counties.
- Counties where Raila Odinga was leading had a turnout under 64%, and only one Raila-led county had a voter turnout above 75%.
- In Mombasa County, where Raila won, the voter turnout remained only 44%. This county had a voter turnout of 67% in 2013 and 60% in 2017.
- In Nyanza County, which is the home region of Raila, more than 700,000 people did not vote. Bringing 70,000 people from here would have saved Raila from an election loss, but a poor GOTV campaign nevertheless cost him the elections.
- The above stats show that voters in pro-Ruto counties were more mobilized compared to Odinga's counties, and the whole credit goes to Ruto's excellent GOTV campaign.
Failed Reputation Management Tactics of Raila Odinga
Failure to do proper reputation management stopped Raila Odinga from becoming the next president of Kenya. He was labeled as an anti-Christ who did not go to church.
Similarly, the opposition slammed him for his old age, as he was 77 years old at the time of the elections. Compared to him, Ruto was 55 years old. While Ruto's campaign portrayed Odinga as an old individual and anti-Christianity, Odinga's campaign did not retaliate at all, which put him on the wrong side of history.
Clearly, the accusations against Odinga were not true at all. Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) defended Odinga, claiming that he was a part of the church.
Ole Sapit noted;
"I want to affirm that this (Odinga) family belongs to the Anglican church. I know many have been doubting where do they worship. So we are here to visit and pray with them."
(Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit)
But the Odinga-Sapit meeting was arranged after the election defeat, which means that the words of Ole Sapit did not matter much for Odinga's support.
Many people voted against him, thinking him an anti-Christ, only to learn later on that he was a part of the church.
A proper reputation management team could have solved these reputation crises against Odinga in the earliest possible stage, which would have saved the elections for him.
Reputation management has different segments, which Odinga's campaign failed to pursue.
A proper reputation management strategy is a combination of the following tactics:
- Letting voters know the truth using a messaging war
- Getting votes by campaigning on viral politics
- Invoking people's sentiments using emotional messages
- Responding to a crisis situation
- Responding to negative comments against the candidate
And these things can be pursued using:
- Social media strategy
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization
- PR management
- Paid advertisements
- SMS Marketing
- Partnering with Digital Media Outlet
Had Odinga relied on these platforms, he would have easily outrun his opposition.
Having a website is one of the easiest ways to maintain a reputation online. But in the absence of personal and even campaign websites, Odinga allowed his political opponent to exploit his reputation without posing any significant resistance.
Similarly in a country like Kenya where there are too many people using the smart phone, SMS marketing could have done wonders for Odinga, but he preferred not to do it.
Every time potential voters searched about anti-Christ beliefs of Odinga, they landed on the pages filled up with false accusations of Odinga's hatred toward the church. A website could have solved this issue as people would have seen pro-Odinga content otherwise.
No Opposition Research by Odinga's Campaign
Doing opposition research is an important part of reputation management, as political campaigns also need to launch a smear campaign against their rivals.
While the Ruto campaign portrayed Odinga as an anti-Christ by doing proper opposition research, the Odinga campaign did not materialize on the opposition research to defame Ruto.
Odinga's campaign could have materialized the dirty tactics of Ruto, for which he was prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.
The ICC accused Ruto of the massacre against nearly 1300 people after the 2007 elections. Though the charges were dismissed later on, Odinga's campaign should have capitalized on this narrative to create a sense of urgency that a potential criminal could become president of Kenya from 2022.
Time to get Post Election Audit for Odinga here👇
How Nigerian Politicians Can Learn their Lessons from Odinga's Loss
Nigerian politicians have an important opportunity to learn a lesson from Odinga's defeat since the demographics and voter dynamics of both countries match each other.
While numerous candidates are seeking Nigeria's presidency, the three strongest of them are:
- Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu
- Atiku Abubakar
- Peter Gregory Obi
Bola Tinubu of the current ruling party may have a slight advantage of having favorable people in the power corridors before the elections, but his campaign needs to bring voters out on election day if he wants to win.
In 2020 Nigeria's #EndSARS protests, the youth of Nigeria was most active, which brought them into the spotlight for the next elections.
Most young people in Nigeria are worried about three things:
- Police brutality
- Worsening security situation
- Poor economic governance
These are the three points on which Nigerian politicians would want to increase voter turnout on election day.
The ruling alliance may have a slight disadvantage in that they fall short of actualizing their previous campaign promises in the economic and political sphere.
The #EndSARS protesters will have the first formal opportunity in the 2023 elections to cast their vote. That group was seen as the most mobilized group among other voters. So, all the candidates will desperately need to increase the voter turnout among those protesters.
Using those protesters for volunteer purposes can also be a handy approach for candidates, since it will allow them to take highly charged people on board, helping them increase voter registration drives.
As Nigeria's elections are to be held next year, the candidate who successfully manages to uplift his GOTV campaign will win the elections.
Voter apathy can play a critical role in Nigeria elections as well since many voters can just assume that their candidate will win the elections without realizing that candidates won't win without actual votes.
So, any Nigerian candidate who does not use digital media technologies to bring out more voters will be at the disadvantaged end.
Every Nigerian candidate can get get pre election audit reality check here 👇
Testing Time for Azimio Starts Now
The period right after an election can be a difficult time for a losing candidate and their campaign team, starting from the exhaustion that naturally comes with campaigning to counting one's losses and the ensuing reality of a bleak future.
The disillusioned supporters do not make it any easier, as some opt to blame the candidate for failing. Indeed, politics is not for the faint-hearted.
Kenya's Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya Coalition Party (also referred to as Azimio) - is at that stage today. The political coalition picked Raila Odinga - fondly known as "Baba" (Swahili for father) by his followers - to be their flag bearer.
Odinga ran against William Ruto, who has been Kenya's Deputy President for the past decade. Kenya held elections on August 9, 2022, and William Ruto was declared the winner a week later by a slim margin. This was not before Kenyans learned of conflict within the Independent Electoral Boundary Commission (IEBC) - the body that conducts elections.
Kenyan Supreme Court Goes Partisan
Azimio petitioned Ruto's win, citing vote rigging and irregularities, among many other allegations. Many Kenyans anticipated that the Supreme Court would nullify the elections and call for a re-run, as was the case in 2017 when the highest court set a precedent by nullifying the elections, citing illegalities and irregularities.
But in a move that shocked many, on Monday, September 5, 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed all the nine grounds for dismissal that it had listed for determination in the presidential petition.
Not only was it atypical for the seven-judge bench to unanimously agree to dismiss the case, but Chief Justice Martha Koomes's tone left much to be desired. She appeared rushed, brash, dismissive, and partisan.
Did the Supreme Court Just Receive a Written Verdict from God?
Two days later, the Chief Justice again surprised the nation by saying that she attributed the judgment to God while speaking at a relative's funeral.
"The verdict was for the sake of independence of institutions, especially the Judiciary. It was not due to our power as a court but because we serve a living faithful God."
For the Chief Justice to make such a statement when the full written judgment is still pending is, to say the least, ridiculous. The Chief Justice sounded more like a politician than the president of the apex court. Her remarks appeared misplaced and indicative of a judiciary that has not separated the Judiciary from the church.
The role of the church in Ruto's election cannot be understated. Ruto, who claims to be a born-again Christian, frequented churches throughout his campaign period and gave large donations.
He assured the church that he would protect their religious freedoms and contrasted that with his opponent, who often said he would protect the freedoms of all Kenyans regardless of their religious beliefs. This is comparable to Trump's relationship with the Evangelicals in the US. Many church leaders in Kenya urged their followers to vote for Ruto.
Kenya in Danger: Man of Crimes is the Next President of Kenya, Time to Make Him a One-Time President
For Azimio, the Supreme Court's decision is political and legitimizes the win of a man that has been accused of many crimes, including crimes against humanity, at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Of note is that Ruto has not been convicted of any of the crimes that he has been accused of, indicted, or officially charged with. The ICC cases were dismissed due to a lack of evidence. If all goes as planned, Ruto will be sworn in as next president of Kenya on September 13, 2022.
Azimio and their supporters had hoped that Raila's fifth attempt at the presidency would be the charm, but this was not to be. This, however, must not mark the end of Azimio but should be the beginning of Azimio's campaign to take the presidency in 2027.
Coalition Game Begins in the Power Corridors of Kenya, Making the Country a Worse Place to Live: Urgency to Dethrone Him
As per the August 9, 2022, polls, Azimio had a majority in the National Assembly, whereas Kenya Kwanza had an even slimmer majority in the Senate.
In a move that many have seen as intended to silence opposing voices and unconstitutional, Ruto has been wooing independent and non-affiliated Senators and MPs to his coalition.
Some political analysts see this as indicative of his future style of leadership and fear that Kenya may return to the era of single-party dominance.
Many credit Ruto's win to the length of time that he campaigned, starting since taking the oath of office as Deputy President in 2013. It does not help that in his second term, he fell out with his boss, the outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
It is alleged that Ruto's hunger for power became a bone of contention between him and President Kenyatta. Ruto felt sidelined, but rather than resign, which would have been the honorable thing to do, he unofficially launched his presidential company.
In the period leading to the elections, the West envisaged that chaos would erupt after the winner was declared due to Kenya's history of post-election violence. The US Embassy in Nairobi released a security alert warning Americans against traveling to certain parts of the country.
Instead, an eerie quiet descended upon Kenya following the declaration of Ruto as Kenya's fifth president. There was a subdued celebratory mode in pockets of the country, especially in Ruto's strongholds.
While some in Azimio may see this as a time to take a much-needed, much-deserved break, Azimio must start organizing now and not wait until 2023 or beyond. They can take a page from the United States Democrats' relentless efforts to take back the White House after losing to Republicans in 2016.
The Resistance Shall Survive: Odinga Must Learn from Democrats of the US
On November 8, 2016, Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in a bitterly contested United States presidential race. This shocked the base of the Democratic party as both scientific opinion polls and political pundits had projected a Clinton win.
Democrats may have lost the race but not the fight. Immediately following the elections, Democratic-leaning activists, pundits, and lobbyists started selling Trump's presidency as a threat to American civil rights. The resistance was officially born.
Within days after the elections, a group of women activists started organizing the Women's March – a worldwide protest – held a day after Trump's inauguration on January 21, 2017.
This has become an annual event. It was followed by nationwide protests against Trump's travel ban at airports and the March for Science and the Day Without Immigrants protests, among others.
The resistance later expanded to include Independents and Republicans who were opposed to Trump. In February 2018, one in five adults said they had attended a political protest, rally, or speech in the previous two years.
One significant area in which Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza Alliance (the winning coalition) failed was getting the voters out to vote.
It has been a standing belief by politicians and political parties in Kenya that the party that holds the largest campaign rallies wins. The 2022 elections had the lowest voter turnout - 65.3% of registered voters – even though the election campaigns saw some of the largest political rallies seen in Kenya's history. According to the IEBC Kenya, 8,020,935 Kenyans that had registered to vote did not vote.
This included 593,896 in Odinga's stronghold Nyanza. This cannot be ignored. Azimio must overcome voter apathy to win the next elections. In other words, Azimio must get the vote out to win Kenya's 2027 Presidential elections.
Following the Supreme Court's decision to dismiss Azimio's petition, many have expressed disappointment and vowed never to vote in future elections. Azimio must make them allies before it is too late to persuade them.
The mid-term elections in 2018 that saw Democrats take the House of Representatives back from Republicans were preceded by a period of high political engagement. Voter turnout was at its highest in any midterm election in 100 years.
By 2020, the organizing had reached such a peak that even the COVID-19 outbreak could not stop voters. President Joe Biden broke his predecessor President Barack Obama's record of most votes ever cast and a record voter turnout. That was how Trump became a one-term president.
Azimio must also invest in political architecture. The pivotal role that social media plays in informing and persuading potential voters cannot be understated.
With digital and technological advancements, elections are not only planned in boardrooms but also on digital platforms. Some of the individuals who attend political rallies may not be registered voters. Azimio must be strategic in using social media to win the 2027 elections.
Azimio may need to go back to the kind of organizing that led to the December 1991 repeal of Section 2A of Kenya's constitution and ended Kenya's single-party era.
They must perpetuate the kind of organizing that got voters out in the 2002 elections that ended Moi's era and ushered in Mwai Kibaki's tenure. More recently, the energy was seen during the November 2005 Orange-Banana referendum that defeated the government's proposed new constitution.
Many have blamed Azimio's loss on a lack of foot soldiers, aka party agents, on the ground. The best foot soldiers are those who believe in the party's vision and are willing to volunteer to serve. Those who insist on being paid can be bought by rival parties.
Azimio's largest resource is the youth. This could be Kenya's largest voting bloc yet, but it may need a lot of persuasion to get them to the polls.
Without civic education, the youth may not see the need to vote. Since this generation is the largest consumer of technology and can be instantly reached, Azimio should use digital platforms to get the youth to vote.
Many Kenyans in the diaspora supported Azimio during the last concluded campaign. The contribution of Kenyans in the diaspora to Kenya's economy has been well documented.
Kenyans in the diaspora have experienced other world democracies and are willing and able to bring positive change to Kenya's growing democracy. Azimio must engage them as well as other stakeholders like the media and civil societies in order to secure a win in 2022.
It is normal to conduct a postmortem meeting(s) after a loss. This week many have pointed fingers and apportioned blame on Azimio's Secretariat. Azimio members must refrain from doing this publicly, avoid distractions and focus on taking the State House in 2027. A house divided cannot stand.
To experience a blue wave in 2027, Azimio must make 2027 a referendum against Ruto and a repudiation against the 2022 election. But that referendum must start now.