Low voter turnout expected for the 2019 elections – this is how the ANC, DA and EFF could be affected

South Africans are ready to put their trust back into the ANC led by president Cyril Ramaphosa, the latest Ipsos poll shows.

According to its results, which does not serve as a prediction, but rather a snapshot of national sentiment at the end of February 2019, around 61% of eligible South Africans would put their voice behind the ANC.

Meanwhile, only 16% would go with the DA, and 9% with the EFF.

However, when adjusting for predicted voter turnout (80%) and only counting those who say they will vote, Ipsos’ numbers show that a lower turnout is better for the smaller parties.

Nationally, assuming a medium-sized turnout of voters on 8 May, Ipsos predicts the ANC will still get 61% of the vote, but the DA would jump to 18% and the EFF to 10%.

In the 2014 election, the ANC secured 62.2% of the vote, with the DA getting 22% and EFF just over 6%. While the poll shows the ANC losing out slightly, it’s the DA that is the biggest loser (-4 percentage points) and the EFF the biggest gainer (+4 percentage points).

The Ipsos poll is based on the face-to-face interviews with 3,600 demographically representative South Africans.

Ipsos noted that a large number of eligible voters have not registered to take part in the election, while many who are registered simply won’t turn up.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), there are 26.7 million registered voters.  Of South Africa’s 57.7 million people, one third are under the age of 15, and ineligible to vote.

This means there are over 10 million eligible voters who are sitting the elections out.

Ipsos said it expects that between eight and nine million voters won’t turn up on the day, leaving the country with around only 18 million votes on the day – less than half of all eligible voters.

Low turnout would affect the ANC most negatively, Ipsos said, but would be a boon for the DA and EFF.

Notably, for the EFF, it could prove to be a remarkable success. Speaking to The Daily Maverick, Ipsos’ Mari Harris said that its latest numbers show that the EFF could even become the leading opposition party in three provinces.

The poll suggests that the EFF could pip the DA to become the official opposition in Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West.

A third of the EFF’s supporters live in Gauteng, the report said.

Other polls

The Ipsos poll differs from a separate poll run by the Institute of Race Relations, which found that the ANC was likely to lose more support in the 2019 elections – though both see the EFF as the biggest gainer.

According to the IRR, the ANC currently stands on 54.7% support nationally, down 1.3 percentage points from December (56%); the DA currently stands on 21.8% nationally, up 3.1 percentage points from December (18%); and EFF currently stands on 12.2% nationally, up 1.2 percentage points from December (11%).

In Gauteng, the ANC is well below a majority, the IRR said, with EFF growth remaining high, while in the Western Cape, the DA majority is on a knife edge, with smaller parties showing some growth.

A poll by Afrobarometer in late 2018 found that the ANC is also far ahead of other parties, though it is still polling lower than before the presidency of Jacob Zuma.

Respondents to its survey, which asked the question ‘If you were to vote tomorrow, who would you vote for?’ largely sided with the ANC (48%), with the DA and EFF getting equal support at 11% each.

However, with the Afrobarometer poll, it’s worth noting that a large portion of respondents (16%) refused to answer, while 11% were unsure of who they would vote for. Discounting these responses pushes the ANC’s share of the vote to 65.8%, with the DA and EFF at 15% each.

Read: New election poll spells bad news for the ANC

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Low voter turnout expected for the 2019 elections – this is how the ANC, DA and EFF could be affected