With the next national election planned for May this year, voters are making up their minds about which party to support.  However, uncertainty is rife –  many people are not sure which party to vote for, giving political parties the opportunity to try and influence voters before the election comes around.

 

Currently six in every ten registered voters (61%) will put their mark next to the name of the ANC in a national election. The ruling party is followed distantly by the DA (14%), EFF (9%) and IFP (2%). 13% of registered voters answered that they would not vote, would not vote for a current party, refused to answer or didn’t know which party they would vote for.

 

These are some of the findings of the latest Ipsos 6-monthly “Pulse of the People™” study, conducted at the end of 2018.  Ipsos asks a randomly selected sample of registered voters which party they would vote for in a national election if the election were to happen the next day. Respondents are given the opportunity to fill in their own choices on an electronic voting paper, imitating a secret vote.

 

The table below summarises the results from a similar poll in May 2018 and the results from the latest poll.

 

*This includes the other political parties chosen or mentioned by respondents.

**Some respondents made it clear that none of the current political parties appealed to them.

 

These results are not a prediction of the outcome of the election, but merely a snapshot of voter opinion at the time of fieldwork.  The results are representative of those South Africans who are older than 18 and who are registered to vote.  Closer to the election, possible election turnout scenario’s will be developed.  Currently only 79% of those South Africans who are eligible to vote are also registered to vote, which we can expect to increase as the IEC embarks on some registration drives in the run-up to the election.

 

The table overleaf indicates that almost one in every ten (8%) of registered voters either refused to share their party choice or have indicated that they do not know who to vote for.  When and if the registered voters in these two groups of people actually vote, they can make a difference to the performance of any of the parties.  An analysis of these undecideds follows below.

Some broad observations are evident from looking at the undecided population which political parties could find useful in the lead up to elections:

 

  • Although women form the largest part of the electorate in the country, women are also not as sure as men when it comes to the choice of political party

 

  • It is a challenge for all political parties to inspire young people to vote, but according to these results, older people are more unsure about party choice at this stage

 

  • The largest insecurity (proportional) is among the minority population groups

 

  • In terms of provinces the biggest challenge to bring certainty to voters will be in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

 

The feeling that political choice might not be cut and dry is also borne out by the results of another question that was included in the survey.  The statement “There is no political party that represents your views” was put to respondents and they had to react to this using an agreement scale.  Almost 4 in every 10 (39%) agreed with this statement.


Trust in political parties

The opinions above are closely associated with trust in different political parties.  South Africans are asked to indicate whether they are “Extremely likely to trust” or “Very likely to trust” a party, versus an opinion that they are inclined “neither to trust nor distrust” the party, “Not very likely to trust” or “Not at all to trust” the party.  By subtracting the proportion of negative answers from the total of positive answers, we can establish the “trust index” for each party.  Trust is fundamental to all human relations, also to the relationship a person has with his/her chosen political party.

At the end of the Zuma years, trust in the ANC was very low, but the party has recovered quite significantly in the last year.  The trust indices for both the DA and the EFF are still in negative terrain, and both parties underperformed in building trust among the electorate in 2018.

The picture differs when looking at the levels of trust supporters of the different parties have in their own party of choice, but the trouble experienced in 2018 by some political parties are also reflected in these results.

[1] These results are for all South Africans of voting age, i.e. 18 years and older.

[2] These results are for all South Africans 18 years and older, who are registered to vote.