ANC supporters. Picture: REUTERS
ANC supporters. Picture: REUTERS

Support for the ANC is tracking towards 60% as the election approaches, the DA is in trouble and the election result in Gauteng is on a knife edge, says the latest opinion poll by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

The poll suggests that voters who were previously alienated from the ANC are moving back towards the governing party.

It follows a full political survey by the IRR in September and has the ANC on 56% of the vote, the DA on 18% and the EFF on 11%. The survey has a 3.9% margin of error, meaning that these percentages can deviate by 3.9 percentage points in either direction.

Since September, ANC support has climbed by four percentage points, while the DA’s has dropped by five percentage points and the EFF’s by two percentage points.

"The poll suggests a shift in support towards the ANC since September. The opposite trend applies to the two biggest opposition parties, with the EFF and the DA down significantly since September," the IRR said.

The poll also models voter support on various different voter turnout scenarios, an important factor in the predictive strength of the poll.

Turnout scenarios

On a turnout of 69% — which the IRR considers likely — ANC support rises to 59%, the DA to 22% and the change in support for the EFF is negligible.

In Gauteng, the survey puts the ANC at 48%, the DA at 25% and the EFF at 12%.

Once turnout is factored in at 73%, the ANC’s support rises to 50% and the DA to 27% and the EFF drops to 10%.

However, because the Gauteng sample is relatively small, the margin of error is 6.4%. This puts the Gauteng election on a knife edge where no party emerges with a clear majority and strengthens the prospect of an ANC-EFF coalition.

"A coalition between the ANC and the EFF would likely constitute a stable, two-party majority in the province and, given the pressure and tension informal DA-EFF coalitions are currently under, this would seem a possibility both the ANC and EFF will now be well aware of," the IRR said.

The DA’s support took a hammering across the board, with both black and white supporters losing faith, and voters in general viewing it less favourably. Since September, its support among black voters has declined from 10% to 6% and among minority voters from 71% to 61%.

Minority voters

But the minority voters who have abandoned the DA appear not to have migrated to the ANC, whose support among these demographic groups is at only 12%, a little down from where it stood in September.

"The most likely explanation for these trends is not current affairs but a general move back towards the ANC by those voters previously alienated from the party, although issues like the advent of Patricia de Lille’s new party and the VBS Mutual Bank scandal would have acted to retard the ability of both the DA and the EFF to counter this."

However, the IRR cautions that a great number of variables remain at play.

The voters returning to the ANC are fluid and could still be won over by the DA and EFF.

Campaigning also plays a role as the election draws closer, with bigger parties tending to squeeze out smaller ones.

patonc@businesslive.co.za