The Psychology Of Polls & Elections

Polls & elections, whether in Kenya or the United States, society expects one to vote on the basis of group thinking. If you don’t align and make a choice based on your interests or ideology, you become the victim of mob lynching.

All in the name of “this is the lesser evil” which is an euphemism for “mtu wetu.” The preparations for the 2022 election are under way and it is clear that doing or doing ignorant things is not an obstacle to political success.

Sadly, there are several psychological processes which lead to the election of apparent fools into positions of power.

I remember in 2005 voting “NO” at the referendum in a polling station in Rumuruti. See, Laikipia had a “ride and die” type of a relationship with Kibaki since he ditched KANU and joined DP on Christmas Day in 1991.

The credibility of politicians is extremely poor. In fairness, this is partly their own fault but believing that every politician is like this would be foolish.

If they were, the entire infrastructure would crumble before you could ask “can I report this on expenses?”However, everybody believes that they are disgusting.

Voting “NO” at the referendum was viewed as being an enemy of then President Kibaki. There were about 5 “NO” votes in my polling station. Your guess is as good as mine on the perceptions created.

Complicating Elections

Most legislators are just in it for themselves, but there’s certainly a lot of them who really want the best for their voters. It is an extremely complicated job to run a country of tens of millions, everyone having different demands and expectations.

There are just too many considerations to take into account. Sadly, much of this can not be converted into a clear point of discussion for use with modern media, and more often, personalities tend to come to the fore.

And the less intelligent personalities are more confident, so are more persuasive, and so on.

Studies of personality indicate that many people show goal focus, “a desire to develop or demonstrate skill in circumstances of achievement.”

Feeling that you are actively affecting something (e.g. elections) is a powerful motivator. However, when some intelligent chap decides to spout big words about interest rates or management of health; confidence deficits. Eventually it will alienate those who don’t understand or comprehend these stuff.

A confident person seems more attractive if they offer solutions. For example, suggesting an easy solution or making a huge difficult thing go away.

Parkinson’s Law

It is also illustrated by the concept of triviality in Parkinson’s law. People can spend far more time and energy dwelling on something trivial they understand than something complex they don’t understand.

Even if Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka and others were on the “Chungwa” menu, the accusation then was that we were siding with a “Kihîî.”

In the US polls and elections, people like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker have had to suspend their campaigns at different points. These are perhaps the smartest of all the candidates for presidential nomination in the Democratic Party cycle.

This is because they couldn’t win the majority support of votes. Voters ‘ justification “we need someone who can beat Trump” is telling; a black man can’t beat Trump. Furthermore, it insinuates that it’s not yet time for a woman to break the Clintonian highest, hardest glass ceiling.

At the end of the day, you are galvanized around an idea that you don’t even believe in!


In the end, black success and wakefulness seem to be in seeking a palatable whiteness.