South African election results: 2014 vs 2019 predictions

 ·6 May 2019

The Institute of Race Relations has published its final pre-election poll for the 2019 election season, bringing the total number of polls published this year to nine.

Pre-election polls are not a prediction for election outcomes, but rather provide a snapshot for how the electorate is swinging over the survey period.

However, previous election results have shown that these polls can be fairly accurate – with Ipsos’ poll results in 2016 coming  within a percentage point of the final results for all parties.

Between January and May 2019, several research and data analytic groups have conducted elections polls, including those from Ipsos and the IRR.

While the methodologies of these polls vary greatly, they all paint similar pictures of what is happening among the local electorate – an apparent drop in support for the ANC, flat to negative support for the DA, and a sharp gain for the EFF.

There also appears to be a marked sense of apathy among voters, particularly young voters, leading to concerns over a low turnout, which can potentially distort the overall picture, leading to big jumps or declines in the proportions of the vote won nationally and provincially.

The graphs below outline how the 2019 predictions for the elections differ from 2014. The data deals with raw numbers, ie not adjusted for voter turnout scenarios, or registered voters that took part in the various polls.

Further insights into the data are provided below.


The IRR has conducted polls since 2018, but only the 2019 surveys are presented above.

Overall, the group’s raw data shows that voters are likely to punish the ANC in the coming election, with support levels expected to drop significantly.

The IRR’s findings are optimistic about the DA’s prospects, showing the lowest declines, and the most recent poll even pointing to a gain in party support. On trend, however, the polls show a large jump in support for the EFF.

According to the IRR, using historic voter turnout figures, the most likely turnout in the 2019 elections will be around 70%. This is also the number touted by many of the other research groups.

In a 70% turnout scenario, ANC support would improve to 53%, with the DA at 24%. However, with a lower turnout, the EFF would decline to 14%.


Ipsos’ results are entirely on trend, with a drop in support for the ANC and DA, and growth for the EFF.

Ipsos data shows a substantial drop in support for the DA –  as much as a seven percentage points from 2014.

Meanwhile, the loss of support from the ANC is far less than most other polls – though the group noted again that voter turnout will be the key deciding factor.

In terms of narrative around the polling, Ipsos noted that there are high levels of trust in Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the ANC, with many respondents holding the belief that the party is on its way to reversing the damage done by the previous government.

Other polls

Three additional major polls have been published.

The first poll, from Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg shows that Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged as the most important influence on voter support in the coming elections.

With Ramaphosa at the helm of the party, there has been renewed trust in the ANC, and more interest in voting for the party. Despite this, the ANC’s support levels were still sub-60%.

The second poll, from research group MarketData, showed a flat outcome for the ANC, a dip for the DA and jump for the EFF. Political analyst RW Johnson said that the results showed a low state of morale among the electorate, which was putting strain on the political system.

The third poll, from Intellidex, deals with investor and market stakeholders’ views of the elections, and where they see the vote going.

The poll found that the market doesn’t really have consensus on election outcomes, with view varying greatly. The averages presented show a relatively low outcome for the ANC, with the DA fairly flat – but again a sharp rise for the EFF.

Read: Final election poll shows the ANC could lose Gauteng and KZN

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