South African 2019 election: the predictions vs the results

 ·12 May 2019

The final results of the 2019 national elections are in, with the ANC securing a solid majority for another term governing the country.

Despite the victory, however, the final outcome of the election represents the worst performance from the ANC post-1994.

In the 1994 election, the ANC won the election with 62.7% of the vote, with the National Party sitting in the opposition benches with 20.4%.

By 1999, the ANC’s majority increased to 66.4%, with the Democratic Party securing only 9.6%.

In 2004, the ANC’s 69.7% majority would reflect the ruling party’s best performance to date – while a fledgeling DA would secure 12.3% of the vote.

In the 2019 election, the ANC has fallen significantly from those highs, securing 57.5% of the vote – followed by the DA with 20.8% (the party has also seen a drop) and the EFF at 10.8%.

The results did not come as surprise, as this is the outcome many analysts and pre-election polls predicted – but there was also a clear underestimation in support for the DA, and many overestimated the EFF’s rise as well.

Predictions vs outcome

Since the start of 2019, several research groups and data outlets posted poll results, providing a snapshot of how the country was feeling to any given party.

While pre-election polls are not predictions per se, they are used to establish underlying trends among the electorate and give a sense for how things will go for the political parties contesting the vote.

Across all of 2019’s polls, the key trend that emerged was that of a big drop in support for the ANC, which ended up being true in the final tally.

While outlets varied in the number of votes the governing party would get (ranging between 50% and 60%), the polls averaged at 56.4%. The party ended with 57.5%.

For the DA, the polls also predicted a major drop in support for the party – however, this loss of support was widely overestimated.

The polls averaged around 18.5% for the DA, while the party emerged with 20.8% in the final count. While this is still a drop in support, it is not as large as many had anticipated.

When it comes to the EFF – which contested their second national election – the polls saw a much larger jump in support than the outcome presented.

Pre-election polls pegged the EFF’s support base between 9.5% and 15%, averaging at 11.5%. The final outcome was much closer to the average than some of the individual polls, which were expecting the final vote share around 14%.

The EFF emerged with a 10.8% outcome.

Among the pre-election polls, the Intellidex poll emerged as being the most accurate. The poll was not a survey or a snapshot of a registered voter sample, but rather a representation on the thoughts of economists, investors and other players in the market.

The IRR and Ipsos also presented adjusted data for low-turnout scenarios.

With a turnout at 65% in 2019, the pre-election polls overestimated the low turnout scenarios entirely, putting the expected turnout at 70%.


Polls run by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) paid particular focus to key provinces as well, with results showing a possibility of two hung provinces (Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal) where the ANC would lose its majority, while the DA would retain the Western Cape.

The final outcome showed that only the Western Cape projection was correct – though the race in Gauteng was definitely close.

Read: South African national election 2019 final results

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