New Kenyan Opinion Poll Political Propaganda

According to a former top researcher with the Chicago-based National Opinion and Research Centre, B. Sheatsley, “opinion polls’ most obvious contribution has been to substitute objective measures of people’s opinions and behaviour for the guesswork that once surrounded these matters.”
In this sense, it becomes quite clear that something still does not work, the way opinion polls are conducted.

For instance, what does it exactly mean to ask a random group of people “who, between President Kibaki and Premier Raila Odinga, is working hardest?”This was the question Gullup recently asked in its only opinion poll this year. Just what was such a question supposed to mean?It is so subjective as to render it meaningless – certainly not the stuff of scientific polls. It comes out as having had pre-determined results, making it utterly baseless.Among those anonymous individuals asked to respond, who has any idea how the two spend their working day – the whole minutiae of crafting policies, studying situation papers and intelligence briefings, attending to various national chores, events and ceremonies, and meeting numerous delegations?

Except for the people who work in those offices, the answer is none.As far as any Kenyan can tell, both the President and Prime Minister have been on a hectic daily ever since the Grand Coalition was formed, each addressing the business of State.Just recently, when the President was off to an AU meeting in Egypt and another one in Japan, the Prime Minister was handling the toxic issues of the Grand Regency scandal and the Mau Forest.

Soon, he was off to the UK and the US, while President Kibaki was home grappling with domestic chores.This outward picture, which is the only idea that Kenyans have of the two at work, does not show any of them being busier or more lethargic than the other.It does not need repeating that the two leaders’ styles of doing things are diametrically opposed: that one is laid-back and the other more physically active.

It would be wrong for any Kenyan to think that being a hands-on operative equals hard work, though the PM does work hard, or that being “laid-back” means laziness.In many places, including large companies, many unsung people do the donkey-work, while the showy type get most of the limelight.
It does not make sense to equate two offices which have specific constitutional mandates, and which are serving the same government simultaneously.

5 thoughts on “New Kenyan Opinion Poll Political Propaganda

  1. Pole my friend. Statistics (the base of all polls) are the bane of life all over the world. Even our own Gov is engaged daily in statistical sampling for development and service delivery.

    If you dont like the message, dont think the cooker is the problem. Your man is the poroblem.

    We always thought that it was MOI who would have destryted kenya. No wonder MOI never wanted Kibaki in power. the Keguoya could not even lead a pack of shickens.

    Sorry. but we have paid dearly for mafia incompetence.

    And we will sadly, pay fpr it over the next 2 generations.

  2. I think the article speaks for itself particularly the subjective nature of poll questions that render the poll meaningless – “certainly not the stuff of scientific polls. It comes out as having had pre-determined results, making it utterly baseless” You don’t need to have taken research methods 1 to know that polls can be doctored to show what ever you want them to show.

    But then again what do we expect from kenyans such as wacha wivu. Crime is on the rise the economy has shrunk,high unemployement and no extra sufurias of ugali since the grand coalition came to power but kenyans think its doing a good job!!! Give me a break. Then why are kenyans complaining about everything everyday

  3. Quite frankly, its difficult to understand what the pollsters intended to find out. Activities like these only add to confusion among the public for there are people out there who will take it as the official truth. Its like the organization that interviewed people queuing to vote on December 27th and concluded that candidate “X” had won. A credible researcher will understand there is such a thing as the “Spiral of silence,” that is to say, individuals are likely to express support for the most prominent or publicized cause even though deep down, they may not agree with it. In Kenya today, the ODM is the most vocal political voice and nobody wants to appear publicly as having a contrary view. Thats why ODM got a poll surprise because the fact that it was a secret ballot meant that each individual had a freer hand to make the choice they believed in.

    hear!! hear!! couldn’t have said it better -Whats the point of having this propaganda poll now -On who won the election it doesnt matter what people think the Krigler report is better placed to tell us the truth . Maybe they fear what the waki and krigler reports have to say-KN-Admin

  4. Competitive politics to day is very much hinged on opinion polls. This is very much so especially for strategizing and campaigning.

    The polls provide the public with an opportunity to express themselves before casting their vote, express their levels of satisfaction with the government after they have voted, guiding political parties on political preferences and providing a back – up to media reports. Success of opinion polls depends on inter-alia sampling, choices of opinion items (indicators), data collection techniques and the actual data classification, presentation and analysis.

    As a general rule, samples picked for polling must be a representative of the universe otherwise the finding will not be externally valid: That is, they cannot apply to those subjects in the universe who were not represented in the sample. Secondly, items chosen for polling must have epistemic correspondence to the concept being studied.

    That means each item/indicator selected should appear to have a definite relationship to the attitude being measured.

    Otherwise the study ends up with an opinion that is not reproducible (The final response/outcome is not predictable). Finally, data editing, classification, presentation and analysis should be done by professionals following the professional ethics of research. Therefore the biggest test opinion polls are faced with is that of validity. A classic example in which an opinion poll failed the validity test is that of the study conducted prior to the 1948 USA presidential election. It was predicted that Republican Thomas E. Dewey would emerge victorious. This in return influenced the media who declared before the votes where counted that Dewey had won the elections.

    After actual official vote count, it finally turned out that the 31st president of the United States of America was Harry Truman. This truth came out after newspapers carried headlines such as “Dewey Defeats Truman.” This error could have been caused by one or several of the following factors: Sampling, choice of opinion indicators, researcher bias, timing and rate of polling.

    It is in this background that I mirror the following two issues of the recent Gallup polling on the professionalism of polling: Firstly, the sampling. The Gallup study picked a “representative sample of 2,200 across all provinces in Kenya”.

    This is perfect until one asks the basis of representation in this particular study. This justifies the reason why any consumers of the Gallup study findings should conclude that with a postulation that the opinion expressed in the said study should, first and foremost, be seen as an opinion of the 2,200 Kenyans interviewed – unless it is established beyond doubt that the sample picked is a representative of the Kenya population who have a potential of forming an opinion on the issues covered in the study.

    In the case of Kenya for an opinion (especially on politics) from a sample to be externally valid, it must capture key variables such as ethnicity, age, education level, gender, social status and residence (rural/urban). These variables cut across the Kenya voter. One would be assuming external validity in these findings if the young and the old, the male and female, the educated and the illiterate, the rural and the urban, those with high social status and those with low social status in Kenya were well represented in the sample.

    Secondly, there is the issue of choice of indicators. As a general rule, unless one is rating, an opinion scale should have multiple indexes to be used in locating the opinion of the respondent on an issue.

    For example a question “Do you believe the election was honest?” cannot be used to measure opinion. Rather, certain key indicators should be identified and used to measure the respondents’ opinion on the honesty of the electoral process of 2007.

    In this case the researchers should have asked the important question of what constitutes honest and how the respondents would be able to differentiate between honesty and dishonesty? Above all items used for polling should have epistemic correspondence to the concept being studied. Under the item mediation for example the Gallup study asked the following questions:

    Do you approve or disapprove of Kofi Annan’s efforts in forming a coalition government?

    Do you approve or disapprove of UN efforts to stop the violence in Kenya after the election?

    Do you approve or disapprove of US efforts to stop the violence in Kenya after the election?

    I believe that the formation of the coalition government, the role role of the UN and the US in stopping the violence should have been separate, each with a set of indicators for measuring the Kenyan opinion on their success or failure/acceptance or rejection.

    Interesting, though, the following items were in the Gallup study:

    1. Do you think there was one ethnic group that was responsible for/behind the post-election violence or the responsibility should be shared by more than one ethnic group? Which one?

    2. I am going to read a statement. Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with it. In the future, I can coexist peacefully in my city or local community with all Kenyans, regardless of their ethnicity or tribal affiliation.

    As for the first item, it is a psychological fact that such question appeals directly to the self-serving bias of the respondent. A bias in which human beings tend to see themselves better than those of the out-group and therefore, automatically associate bad things with the out-group and good things with the in-group.

    The second item is likely to yield misleading responses as it does not measure the actual social distance between groups: It does not separate overt behaviour from covert behaviour. For example a respondent simply saying that in future he/she can coexist peacefully with another Kenyan from a different ethnic group does not in psychological terms mean that there is no conflict.

    Human beings are known to share physical space without overt conflict but inwardly are in conflict. So, the presence of a trigger event like incitement will make that which has for long been covert, overt. Gallup can find tips on measuring social distance from the Emory Bogardus’ Social desistance scale.


    People in Kenya don’t think they swallow every line they read in the press.What the media reports and politicians say is gospel truth. Never mind the facts that don’t agree with them .

    We have to change the way Kenyans analyze things. Kenyans need to wake up and embrace thinking. we have become a country that doesn’t want to think. We just want to be spoon fed

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