ODM leader Raila Odinga won the December polls by a 6-point margin over President Kibaki, according to a US-sponsored election-day survey of voters that was released in Washington on Tuesday.
The 5,495 Kenyans surveyed leaving voting stations in 67 of 71 districts showed Mr Odinga got 46.07 per cent of the vote, compared to 40.17 per cent for Mr Kibaki and 10.22 per cent for Kalonzo Musyoka.
The poll has a margin of error of 1.32 percentage points, meaning its finding of a six-point victory for Mr Odinga should be considered statistically reliable.
Commenting on the survey, political scientist and Kenya election expert Joel Barkan said the poll�s design and execution ensure that its findings are trustworthy.
He spoke at a forum held at the non-governmental Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Presentations on the exit poll findings were made by Prof Clark Gibson of the University of California at San Diego and by James Long, a research associate at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi.
Prof Gibson and Mr Long designed the exit poll under contract with the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based democracy-promotion group. USAid, a government entity, paid for the poll, which Prof Gibson said cost between $30,000 and $50,000 (Sh2 million and Sh3.2 million).
Strategic Research, a Nairobi-based firm, assisted in supervising the survey.
IRI had stipulated that the findings could not be divulged for at least six months following the election.
In addition to doubting the official outcome of the presidential vote, the survey also questions whether Mr Kibaki actually met the requirement of winning at least 25 per cent of the ballots in five provinces.
The exit poll�s findings suggest that Mr Odinga will be �the person to beat in 2012,� Prof Barkan observed.