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“Opinion polling is a science; running an election campaign is an art.” So said ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula in a conversation we had last week about opinion polls. Mbalula might find, though, if he was to run an opinion poll himself it would be just as much of an art as his campaign, if the vast differences in methodology in two recent ones are anything to go by. The most hard-fought battle of the election will be Gauteng. In the 2014 election the ANC got 53.6%, the DA 30.8% and the EFF 10.3%. Last week’s poll by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) pinned the ANC and EFF very differently. The sample is drawn from a database of every cellphone number in SA, is demographically representative and includes only registered voters. It put the ANC on 41,6%; the DA on 32,4%; and the EFF on 18,2%. But while this looks an extreme outcome, it is not what the IRR predicts the election outcome to be. The methodology used in this poll, conducted in February, also models the likely result...

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