Ruling party shedding support

Support for the ANC at an all-time low

In recent pre-election surveys support for the ANC has been measured consistently below 50% - a phenomenon not seen commonly before.

This is the most interesting finding in the eNCA/Ipsos pre-election series of opinion surveys. Three waves of this study were conducted during October 2021. Since the 1994 elections, results of both national and local government elections have always returned the ANC with countrywide support well above 50%.

A quarter (25.5%) of registered voters did not choose a party to vote for in wave 1. In wave 3, almost a third (31%) did not choose a party to vote for. A wide variety of explanations were given: some people indicated that they will not vote in the local government elections, while others expressed distrust of politicians and political parties. Some respondents were of the opinion that voting won’t change anything, and others just refused to answer the question.

These findings reiterate a comment expressed in an earlier press release on the eNCA/Ipsos project, namely that voter apathy can be an important variable in this election (A third of South Africans will decide the outcome of the local government elections).

Over the last number of years news reports did point out the internal strife of different factions in the ANC, and also reported on corruption issues and financial difficulties experienced by the party. It is interesting that opposition parties did not benefit in terms of support during the previous few years of difficulty for the ANC – but then, the news items on factional issues, corruption and financial difficulties were not limited to the ANC and many other parties and political leaders were also reported on.

The period since the 2019 national and provincial elections was not easy for any political party in South Africa. Add to this the Covid-19 epidemic, the slow pace of vaccinations, the issues of service delivery and governance in the majority of municipalities, loadshedding and water supply issues and the current rushed and shrunken election campaign, it is impossible to predict with certainty the outcome of these rather messy and unique elections.

If we just look at the group who indicated that they want to vote, the ANC support will be 43.4%, that of the DA 24.2% and the EFF support will stand at 14.8%

The total number of South Africans registered to vote are just over 26,2 million – and it is clear that all registered voters will not turn out to vote on 1 November 2021. If we just look at the group who indicated that they want to vote, the ANC support will be 43.4%, that of the DA 24.2% and the EFF support will stand at 14.8%

Looking at answers given to different questions, a model was developed to identify three possible scenario’s – a high, medium and low voter turnout scenario.  This model was refined over the three waves of the eNCA/Ipsos pre-election polls.

  • In a high voter turnout scenario about 59% of registered voters will turn out to vote
  • In a medium voter turnout scenario about 42% will turn out, and
  • In a low voter turnout scenario 27% of registered voters will turn out.

Looking at the outcomes of the model, the most probable outcome will be between the medium and the high voter turnout scenarios. The performance of political parties is influenced fundamentally by different turnout outcomes. For instance, a low turnout scenario will be to the benefit of the DA, and the detriment of the ANC. The model is not linear and different scenario’s influence different parties differently.

The performance of political parties is influenced fundamentally by different turnout outcomes. For instance, a low turnout scenario will be to the benefit of the DA, and the detriment of the ANC. The model is not linear and different scenario’s influence different parties differently.

eNCA’s Local Government Elections news content includes interviews with candidates, political party debates, up-to-the minute elections results and reactions and interesting insights, statistics and statements from the latest eNCA IPSOS research study.  Watch eNCA’s unmissable Local Government Elections coverage on DStv channel 403 or on https://www.enca.com/2021-municipal-elections

Technical detail
  • Wave 1
    • A total of 1,346 CATI (Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews) with South Africans, 18+, who are registered to vote were conducted from 9-14 October 2021
    • The incidence of mobile phones in South Africa is 96% and includes people from all backgrounds and in all provinces – also in deep rural areas.  This universe was used as the basis of a RDD (Random Digit Dialling) methodology to achieve the widest countrywide spread possible.
    • A total of 3,576 phone calls were made to achieve this sample, as many people are not registered to vote – although they might be eligible to vote.
  • Wave 3
    • A total of 1,672 CATI (Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews) with South Africans, 18+, who are registered to vote were conducted from 23-27 October 2021. The Margin of Error (depending on sample size, response rate and sampling methodology used) on this sample is between 1.1 and 2.53 percentage points on a 95% confidence level.
    • The incidence of mobile phones in South Africa is 96% and includes people from all backgrounds and in all provinces – also in deep rural areas.  This universe was used as the basis of a RDD (Random Digit Dialling) methodology to achieve the widest countrywide spread possible.
    • A total of 4,884 phone calls were made to achieve this sample, as many people are not registered to vote – although they might be eligible to vote.

Society