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Three polls show ANC election support is falling off a cliff

Three polls show ANC election support is falling off a cliff
Illustrative image | Sources: A woman casts her vote in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, on 1 November 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook) | Rawpixel

The ANC would get 43% to 45% of the national vote if an election were held now, three polls show.

An Ipsos poll suggests that ANC support is 43% of SA’s registered voters, while a trifecta of polls released in the past fortnight predicted a loss for the governing party if an election were held now.

A Social Research Foundation (SRF) poll released last Friday suggests that ANC support had declined to 45% from 52% between July and October (on a 66% voter turnout), while The Brenthurst Foundation found the ANC would get 43% (on a high turnout) and 45% (on a low turnout), averaging at 41%.

Load shedding, a cost-of-living crisis and joblessness are the most significant factors that cast a shadow over the governing party’s chances of retaining power after the 2024 election.

The polls all asked how representative samples of voters would cast their ballot if an election were held the next day. Polls are not predictions but sentiments in the run-up to the general election, which is likely to be held between May and August next year.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Your democracy, own it’ — IEC launches campaign for next year’s poll

As election campaigns get into gear, the picture will change, says Ipsos public affairs director Dr Mari Harris. The Ipsos face-to-face poll of 3,600 people, the largest of the three, was in the field in June and July, while the Brenthurst and Social Research Foundation polls were telephonic and more current.

“In general, South Africans are not happy with government; in fact, they are not happy with political parties, full stop,” Harris said.

“About 42.3 million South Africans aged 18 years or older are eligible to vote. But as of October 25, only 26,214,764 are registered to vote (a current participation rate of 62%). This is unless an extraordinary effort is made by the IEC, political parties, other institutions, the media and concerned individuals to boost this number and motivate South Africans to register to vote,” said Harris.

The DA polled at 20% (Ipsos), 31% (SRF) and 24-27% (Brenthurst, depending on turnouts).

The Multi-Party Charter (MPC, a coalition of seven parties comprising the DA, Inkatha, ActionSA, Freedom Front Plus and three new parties) makes a promising debut. In the Ipsos poll, it would get more than 30% if an election were held tomorrow. Brenthurst believes the MPC’s chances are higher at 36%.

But this pact is vying to form a coalition government, so it is still well short of its ambitions, and its new party partners still need to be discovered by the average voter.   

Read more in Daily Maverick: Multi-Party Charter’s long walk to 2024 election starts with convincing voters the ANC can lose

The ANC’s chances are better with a low voter turnout as more urban voters stay away than their rural counterparts. Like many liberation movements, the ANC is now becoming a rural party. The EFF shows solid gains across the three polls, with the most varied support across urban, rural, age and gendered populations.

The governing party is very good at transporting voters and bringing out the rural vote.

“Voter turnout will play a significant role on election day, and multiple analyses suggest that expecting a high turnout may not be realistic, due to prevailing sentiment. Conversely, a low voter turnout could work to the advantage of the ANC, possibly even pushing ANC support above the 50% mark.

“Currently, the most plausible voter turnout falls within the range of 45% to 50%, with ANC support in a similar range; and both the DA and EFF showing support levels in the region of 18% to 22%,” Harris says. DM


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  • Geoff Krige says:

    The only surprising thing here is that there are still 43% of South Africans who would vote for the ANC, the failed state party.

    • Wayne Holt says:

      Couldn’t agree more… really shows the level of maturity and lack of education which works in the ANC and EFF favour

    • Alan Paterson says:

      Indeed 43 to 45% of lemmings rushing towards the cliff. Thank you ANC for nearly thirty years of failed education (apart from its many other failures). Truly a criminal cabal.

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      43% of registered voters in South Africa, to be more specific.

      Election polling generally does not bother to count the opinions of those who have tossed their right to vote in the rubbish bin, by not even bothering to register. It would skew the findings.

      I still think we need to consider compulsory voter registration and compulsory voting. You want to make use of public services and infrastructure? (Hint: We ALL have to.) Well, you better speak up about who should be managing those things, then.

    • Bob Dubery says:

      I’m not surprised. The alternatives are so uninspiring.

      And they’re inept. The ANC has long had obvious problems with corruption, internal strife and an inability to maintain, let alone improve service delivery. They’d be a sitting duck in many countries. Yet come election day there they are. What’s wrong with our opposition parties that they are unable to unseat such a poorly performing government?

    • Robert Escott says:

      That’s not actually true. This is where voter apathy becomes extremely important.

      In the 2019 elections, less than half of all people eligible to vote actually turned up to make their mark. Of those, the ANC got 57.5%. You cannot say whether those that didn’t vote support the ANC, therefore AT MOST, the ANC has support from 28.75% of eligible South Africans. (this estimation method holds for all parties, by the way)

      It therefore becomes critical to get people registered and into the polling booth come election day. The non-voting block is now the most powerful constituency in the country.

  • Colin Braude says:

    A caveat: telephonic polls omit the “unconnected”. They probably do reflect trends but it would be interesting to know how representative they are.

    • Bob Dubery says:

      Indeed. Our polls, the experts who opine in papers and on the radio, and some of the actual parties contesting that election, have no idea what a large chunk of the population thinks and wants.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Since 2019 the Zondo commission played out, airing its shocking revelations. Also, countless other scandals involving party cadres. Service delivery fell off a cliff in ANC-led councils and metros.

    There are actually decent and competent ordinary people that voted for the ANC in the past. We have a large religious base in South Africa. These people cannot get themselves to vote for the ANC again. They will either abstain or change party.

    Something that baffles me is where do the churches stand in this? Non-aligned? At some point, as in the apartheid days, the churches must make their voices heard.

  • robeclarke25 says:

    Surely a big concern must be the so-called impartiality of the IEC? The anc/eff will not think twice to interfere with the safekeeping and handling of the ballots!! The consequences of acts of stealing, murder, corruption, fake qualifications, tender rigging, intimidation, etc, etc are non-existent….I believe the IEC could be subject to intimidation and this will also then become another “Commission of Enquiry” and take years( if ever??) to resolve, and by then, be too late to save what is left of SA!!!

    • Con Tester says:

      Exactly. Staffed (stuffed?) with cadres, it is foolish to trust in the IEC’s ostensible neutrality, which aspect these polls seem to ignore. I remember after the first free election back in 1994 an IEC official being interviewed on TV saying, “We won!”

      • Robert Escott says:

        This is where a manual, and decentralised, election system is preferable. Every voting station can be overseen by party agents to make sure procedures are followed and no cheating occurs. Counting also happens at the voting station level.

        This allows irregularities to be isolated from each other. In an electronic and/or centralised system, this becomes much more difficult to oversee.

  • Allen Masomere says:

    The more interesting question is if an African liberation party will give up power without a fight, should the ANC lose. That would be a first.

  • Christian Pirk says:

    Dear DM Team,
    check the numbers from Brenthurst
    “The Brenthurst Foundation found the ANC would get 43% (on a high turnout) and 45% (on a low turnout), averaging at 41%.”
    I would assume that the average would lay between high and low turnout so between 43 and 45% so 41% seems out of place, but if high turnout would be 41 and the avergae 43% it would seem more logical

  • Sam van Coller says:

    This comment will probably sound crazy but at least think sbout it. ‘Stronger Togrther’ at nstional political level would mean a government of national unity – a coalition between the ANC and theMulti Party Coalition. Simple majoritarianism in a diverse, deeply divided country brings deep division – look at the US. Why should 51 percent lord it over 49 percent? Rebuilding our country will be a mammoth task. We can only do it together

    • Eberhard Knapp says:

      Wonderful concept!
      ANC would have lots of popular support, the MPC could push a government that corruption is really out – And that a government’s duty is to serve the country’s people, as best it can!

    • Mark Nicholas says:

      Not at all crazy! Certainly better than an ANC/EFF coalition!!

    • Daniel Bower says:

      I would say the second best option other than a MPC government. I think this is what the DA was thinking when they weren’t ruling out the possibility of a coalition with the ANC

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    43%…. aish….. I have no words to describe the actual level of…. aish… no words…

    And yes yes yes… it’s 43% of REGISTERED voters…. there loads of disillusioned non-voters… we know that.

    The fact still remains. 43%… that is a very larger number of people with not a whole lot of collective brain power.

    To still actual VOTE for the ANC… I mean what’s going through your head at that point? Is it the free chicken or do you think there are voters who still think that “this time will be different?”

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Why are so many people surprised that 45% or 50% of voters still support the ANC? And why attribute it to stupidity or lack of education? It’s not – it’s human nature. People are tribal, whether it be sports (witness the RWC23), politics, religion, whatever. For 48 years white South Africans voted for apartheid despite it being morally reprehensible, a failed social experiment, an economic disaster, and sending their kids off to fight unwinnable wars. There was any amount of self-serving reasoning for this, and the vast majority of it was, in a nutshell, bullshit. And yet, in the last elections before PW gracelessly left the stage, the Nats and CP actually INCREASED their share of the vote: no matter that the world, including the US and UK had sanctioned us; no matter the domestic and regional wars, no matter the collapsing economy: white South Africa continued to vote for Botha or Treurnicht as if somehow they would deliver nirvana. Turkeys voting for Christmas, much?

    13 years of catastrophic Tory rule in the UK still sees them in power, despite the train wreck they’re turning that country into. Trump is still wildly popular with Republican voters – about 60% of Republicans still support him!

    We’re simply saddled with a party that has convinced the majority of people that it alone liberated them, and it alone can prevent their re-enslavement. Opposition parties haven’t convinced them otherwise, and won’t if their optics remain so bad. Hello Helen, looking at you!

    • Don Khalees says:

      Best comment of the day!

    • Daniel Bower says:

      Very fair argument. I think I as well as many other South Africans are just so angry and disappointed with the ANC that it’s hard to observe their voters in an objective way. I will say this tough, as of currently there is not much of an excuse for people to vote ANC. You’ve got the DA widening the service delivery gap. The EFF expanding their revolutionary talk. IFP is growing. FF+ is looking good. You have a Multi-Party Charter to ensure stability in a coalition. And you’ve got BOSA and Rise Msansi and ActionSA, parties that look like they’d appeal to ANC voters.

  • Don Khalees says:

    The biggest challenge with DM commentators is that most are of similar ideological and political orientation. They are incapable of understanding other points of view and am not surprised when they revert to the simplest explanation that people who vote ANC are stupid! Easy to believe but far from the truth. If the opposition thinks the same way then we must forget it, we are all destined to be ruled by the ANC forever.
    Most don’t even understand the drivers that keep people voting the ANC, their greatest insight is that ANC voters are stupid! Most on this platform leave suburban middle class life, issues like corruption, climate change and other middle class issues are closer to their hearts, that’s their reality but unfortunately not everyone! And last I checked real middle class are less than 10% of this country so their views matters but in democratic dispensation they are a minority. So they can continue believing their own reality or they can chose to really understand the fabric and in-depth viewpoints of others, but I doubt this as we know most keyboard warriors are self centered, only their reality matters.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Precisely this – it’s why I’m really hoping that Rise Mzansi becomes a political force and is able to take large swathes of disgruntled working class and unemployed South Africans away from the ANC and EFF and into a new political force for change. The DA is a 20%er party, incapable of reaching much more than that, so it has to come from somewhere else.

  • Mike Walwyn says:

    Be afraid, be very afraid. If the ANC and the EFF get together, they WILL win the election. And if you think our decline into bankruptcy and chaos is quick at the moment, just wait until that happens. The ANC’s protestations that it will never work with the EFF are worthless and untrue, like just about every other statement it issues

  • virginia crawford says:

    Polls are proven wrong again and again. The real story is that so many voters aren’t registered. Go to any taxi rank or gathering of miscellaneous people and do a straw poll – support will be around 10%. It is the people who don’t vote that keep the ANC in power: a massive drive to register people and explain the numbers game would be more useful than any amount of polls.

    • Robert Escott says:

      Not all of them. IPSOS hasn’t been too far off the mark for the last two NPE elections. Intellidex was the closest in 2019, but their poll was only a week before elections.

      Obviously, the closer we are to the elections, the more accurate the polls results become.

  • William Stucke says:

    Clickbait headline!

    ANC support falling from 52% to 45% isn’t “falling off a cliff”. It’s the entirely predictable and ongoing gradual decline in ANC support amongst those who bother to vote.

    However, if the polls showed the ANC getting below 20%, THAT I’d call falling off a cliff.

  • Susan Scott says:

    The R350 SASSA grant would, if I was poor, grant the ANC my vote. If I was poor and illiterate I would not know that the govt is a thieving party. I hope all other parties make a plan and shove the current ‘serving’ party out of the way.

  • Daniel Bower says:

    Saddening but hopeful. If the MPC can get lots of exposure, coupled with entries from BOSA, Rise Mzansi and PA, there might a chance of a miracle!

  • Klaus Muller says:

    This “support” for the ruling party, is it mainly rural or urban?

  • P van den Berg says:

    media not doing enough to ensure ANC is not voted in again

  • Gary Palmer says:

    There is one very (previously) exploited method of increasing the ANC voter count (I am not disclosing any new strategies here) ; Enter, food parcels and bright yellow T-shirts.. and other false promises.

    If you impoverish your citizens but feed them propaganda, they will take the little you give them in the abusive relationship. That kind of loyalty is hard to break without education.

  • Gill and Phil Cohen says:

    Having been at a registering table this morning, I would like to mention a few helpful matters.
    The IEC tells me, It is a LAW that ALL PEOPLE “have to always carry their ID document.!!!!” WRONG
    ALL DRIVERS by LAW ” do always have to to carry their Drivers Licence.”When driving.!!! RIGHT
    NB.To Vote, a valid ID document is necessary. If you have lost it, get a temporary one from Home Affairs
    To go into a Voters Booth you have to show your ID document. No Copies accepted.

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