New election poll sees massive shake-up for South Africa: ANC below 40%, DA at risk

 ·7 Feb 2024

A new poll from Ipsos sees a massive shake-up on the cards for South Africa’s political landscape after the 2024 general elections; with the ANC possibly receiving less than 40% of the vote.

Additionally, the polling shows that the current official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) hot on its heels – making the 2024 elections hotly contested.

Ipsos conducted 3,600 face-to-face interviews across South Africa from 23 October to 1 December, 2023. One of the anchoring questions asked was: “If there were National [or Provincial] elections tomorrow, which political party would you vote for?

Respondents were requested to select their choice on an imitation ballot paper on a computer, before handing the computer back to the interviewer. “This approach replicates a real ballot paper process and ensures the confidentiality of the vote,” said Ipsos.

The firm noted that this research does not necessarily constitute an election prediction, but rather captures sentiment at the given period of time.

“Credible election predictions can only be made in the final stages leading up to the election [as] various factors, including campaign dynamics, political and economic changes, as well as the state of essential services…can influence the election outcome in the final months.”

Additionally – history has shown that polls can prove incorrect. For example, the 2016 US presidential elections and Brexit saga highlighted how far off polls can be.

That said, polling around the 2019 elections – including Ipsos’ findings – were not far off from the actual outcome.

Also important to note is that fieldwork for the poll was conducted before the establishment of the uMkhonto we Sizwe party by former-president Jacob Zuma. It also has notable additional exclusions – such as Rise Mzansi, BOSA, the PA, UDM and ATM.

Polling results

A detailed analysis by Ipsos considers matters of party choice, preference, or affiliation through other inquiries asked in the questionnaire.

“These findings aid in discerning the party selection of individuals who haven’t explicitly indicated their choice on the ballot paper,” said Ipsos.

The results are as follows:

The results show that regardless, coalitions would be a necessity to form a government (50% +1).

Results indicate large decline in support for the ANC, with the DA narrowly holding onto its official opposition status as the EFF makes major strides.

At this stage, the Multi-party Charter for South Africa looks to draw about 33% of the national vote.

Ipsos said that while the IFP’s support on a national level is in the region of 5% – the party is a strong contender in KwaZulu-Natal, where its support is largely concentrated. Additionally, ActionSA’s support is said to be mainly located in Gauteng.

However, if the figures look at the registered electorate who have not aligned themselves with a particular political party, indicated as “will not vote”, “refuse to answer”, or “don’t know”, the results are as follows:

In this case, the ANC dips below 40%, while the EFF (+3.6% since the last Ipsos poll) performs marginally better than the DA (+1.3%), potentially positioning itself as the “official opposition”.

However, the firm reiterates that “these results should not be taken at face value as the figures include 10.1% (one in every ten) of the registered electorate who have not aligned themselves with a particular political party.”

The crucial factor of this election hinges on voter turnout on the day of the election. “Several analyses indicate that anticipating a high voter turnout may not be realistic, largely attributed to widespread despondency regarding the country’s situation and low levels of trust in politicians and political parties,” said Ipsos.

As such, a low voter turnout (39% to 41%) could potentially benefit the ANC. Such a scenario would likely see the ANC create coalitions with ‘smaller parties’ to get over the 50% threshold.

Poll: Ipsos

The Electoral Commission of South Africa reported that over a million people had been added to the voters’ roll following the conclusion of the voter registration weekend on February 3 – 4, bringing the total number of eligible voters to 27.4 million.

Read: A window into how South Africa could be run after the 2024 elections

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