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Election 2009: Where the voters stand

James Myburgh
15 April 2009

What the Markinor poll said about the provincial and racial support of the different political contenders

The opinion poll conducted by Markinor in early March this year provides probably the best guide to the possible outcome of the South African elections next week. 3,531 adult respondents were polled across the country. They were then further screened according to whether they were registered, likely, and wanted to vote. The results published are derived from the 2,576 respondents who fitted into this subset of ‘likely voters.'

As reported earlier 64,7% of the ‘likely voters' polled said they planned to vote ANC, down from the 68,3% it polled in October 2008. The Democratic Alliance enjoyed the support of 10,8% of respondents (down from 12,3%), and the Inkatha Freedom Party 2,7% (down from 3,6%.) The Congress of the People, launched after the previous poll was conducted, drew the support of 8,9% of ‘likely voters'. 9,1% of respondents were unsure of who to vote for, spoilt their ballots, or refused to answer the voting intention question.

According to the poll 78,7% of ‘likely voters' are black, 11,5% white, 7,8% Coloured, and 2% Indian. The ANC enjoyed the support of 78,8% of black respondents, COPE 6,8%, the IFP 3,4%, and the DA a miniscule 0,8%. The DA meanwhile enjoyed the support of 59,8% of white respondents, COPE 13,7%, the Freedom Front Plus 4,9%, and the ANC 4,4%.

The poll provides further evidence for the collapse of ANC support among the Coloured population. The DA now enjoys the support of 35,1% of likely Coloured voters, the ANC 22,7% and COPE just behind them with 22,2%. Among likely Indian voters the DA is again the largest party with the support of 29,6% of respondents. The ANC had the support of 16,2% of likely Indian voters, COPE 11,8% and the Minority Front 10,8%. It is striking that COPE enjoys a higher stated support among the minority groups polled than it does in the black majority.

Table 1: Racial breakdown of support of three main parties (March 2009)

a.) African National Congress

Race

Black

White

Coloured

Indian

Total

% of group

78.8

4.4

22.7

16.2

N/A

% all voters

62.0

0.5

1.8

0.3

64.6

Share of support

96.0

0.8

2.7

0.5

100.0

 

b.) Democratic Alliance

Race

Black

White

Coloured

Indian

Total

% of group

0.8

59.8

35.1

29.6

N/A

% national

0.6

6.9

2.7

0.6

10.8

Share of support

5.8

63.5

25.3

5.5

100.0

 

c.) Congress of the People

Race

Black

White

Coloured

Indian

Total

% of group

6.8

13.7

22.2

11.8

N/A

% national

5.4

1.6

1.7

0.2

8.9

Share of support

60.2

17.7

19.5

2.7

100.0

In the Western Cape the DA appears close to attaining an outright victory in the upcoming elections. It enjoyed the support of 43,5% of ‘likely voter' respondents in the province, similar to the 42,8% it polled in October last year, and the 24,4% it polled among registered voters in the equivalent period before the 2004 election (it went on to win 27,1% of the vote.) The ANC received the support of 21,9% of respondents, COPE 16,5%, and the ID 8,2%.

The poll indicates that the ANC is likely to see its support decline in most provinces. However, the ruling party is likely to gain considerable new support in KwaZulu-Natal. The ANC enjoyed the support of 61,4% of ‘likely voter' respondents, the IFP 11,7%, the DA 4,9% and COPE 1,8%. By comparison a Markinor poll conducted shortly before the 2004 elections found that the ANC enjoyed the support of 48,7% of ‘registered voter' respondents and the IFP 24,9%. (The ANC went on to win 47% of the vote and the IFP 36,8%.) Interestingly though the support for all the main parties has fallen since October 2008 with the percentage of uncertain respondents has more than doubled from 7,1% to 16,3%.

COPE has made not insignificant inroads in all provinces barring KZN. Its support among ‘likely voters' polled in the other provinces was as follows: Eastern Cape 15,3%, Gauteng 9,3%, Limpopo 9,9%, Free State 6,6%, North West 6,1%, Mpumalanga 9,1%, and Northern Cape 17,1% (see table 2). In a number of these provinces COPE seems to be hurting the opposition as much as it is the ANC. The number of ‘likely voters' saying they will support the DA has close to halved from October 2008 in KZN, Limpopo, Free State, North West, and Mpumalanga. Markinor also recorded a decline in support for the IFP, ID, UDM, ACDP and PAC between October and March.

Table 2: Provincial poll results (March 2009)

 

WC

KZN

Gauteng

EC

Lim

FS

NW

Mpum

NC

ANC

21.9

61.4

57.8

66.6

75.1

78.2

78

76.7

68.2

DA

43.5

4.9

15.1

9.4

2.5

4

3.1

4.3

5.1

COPE

16.5

1.8

9.3

15.3

9.9

6.6

6.1

9.1

17.1

ID

8.2

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

0

1.6

0

3.4

FF+

0.9

0.1

0.8

0

0

3.9

0

0.4

0

ACDP

0.2

1.1

0.4

0.7

0

0

0

0

0

UDM

0.2

0

0

4.4

0

0

0

0.5

0

PAC

0

0

0.2

0

0

0.1

0

0

0

IFP

0

11.7

0.6

0

0

1.8

0

0

0

MF

0

1.5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

UCDP

0

0

0

0

0

0

1.6

0

0

D/K

8.6

16.3

14.7

3.3

12.5

5.1

10.1

9

2.3

The accuracy of this poll will be tested soon enough, when the results of next week's elections are announced. But it is possible to pencil in some possible question marks over Markinor's estimates.

In South Africa opposition supporters have traditionally been more hesitant about declaring a preference (and more uncertain about who to vote for) than supporters of the dominant and perpetually victorious ANC. As a result Markinor polls have tended to understate opposition support and slightly overstate ANC support ahead of past elections (see table here).

Before previous elections Markinor has based its poll results on responses by registered voters. This time around Markinor has further screened respondents through its ‘likely voter' test. Although the company describes this as international best practice, this innovation may exacerbate this pre-existing bias against the opposition in our peculiar local circumstances.

Another related question is whether it has got its racial as well as its provincial weightings right. As noted earlier Markinor estimates that 78,7% of ‘likely voters' are black. If this is an overestimate this would result in an overestimate of ANC support more generally (and visa versa.)

A third question is how accurately Markinor is polling COPE's support. Since 1994 the support bases of the main political parties have been known, and opinion polls have just had to document their relative rise and decline. COPE though is a substantial new player. We have no firm indication yet as to how willing its black supporters are to declare themselves to the fieldworkers of polling companies. As noted previously surveys have consistently underestimated the IFP's real support - even if they have managed to document its relative decline. (The DA's black support, as measured by Markinor, seems surprisingly low.)

Lastly, one thing a poll conducted in March can't measure are the shifts in voter preference since then, or how effective each party will be in getting its supporters to the polls. The ANC has been able to spend (what looks like) hundreds of millions of rands on its campaign. But the news cycle has not necessarily worked to its advantage.

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 responses to this article

Undecided voters
Is it possible to get more info on the undecided voters. how big are they? what is thier racial make up?

by Mike on April 15 2009, 05:58
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Black support for the DA miniscule
So perhaps our local DA councillor should take note and spend less time at the shabeens and look to addressing the ratepayers problems.

by Wendy on April 15 2009, 06:43
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Can we trust the ID and COPE not to betray the voters in the Western Cape
The ID tried previously to get in bed with the ANC to get rid of Helen Zille as major - it was only the outrage of the voters that made them see sense.

Can they be totally trusted to not do the same again in the Province ? Also COPE are untested . .more

by Sad Days on April 15 2009, 07:43
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@Sad Days
That is a very good question.
George, in the Western Cape, the Eden Municipality is dead in the water `cause of the ID that was supposed to be in alliance with the DA but at the end of the day are more in alliance with the ANC.

by Good ? on April 15 2009, 08:59
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Pinch of salt
Would not take any of Markinor's figures too seriously.
There is a different vibe on polling days which isn't present during their surveys.

by Reitz on April 15 2009, 09:41
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Markinor is wrong - again!
I offer Markinor a bet: if the DA does indeed go backwards, as Markinor suggests, I will pay over R10 000. If, however, the DA grows, as our own polling suggests, then Markinor can make us a R10 000 donation (for being wrong two elections in a row). Now, . .more

by Ryan Coetzee on April 15 2009, 10:16
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Coping
One thing that needs to be considered is the alledged intimidation in rural ares by a certain leading party. As well as the utilisation of govt departments' resources.
However, be that as it may I will vote for COPE because it is our only hope.

by _Joannha_ on April 15 2009, 10:47
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Markinor - shoot the messenger
It could be co-incidental, but Markinor's categorising the electorate by race perpetuates past ill-feelings and suits the ANC.

Does the lack of other categories, e.g. education, wealth, holding a state sinecure, urban/rural, age, and so on, mean . .more

by Theseus on April 15 2009, 11:11
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TO SOON TO SAY
We can't be so sure who will have more votes here in the Westerncape we do no
come out and say who we voting for wait and see after 22 april.
@Sad days you need to know what you want in life if you do trust COPE we are her to make a change

by Mdala on April 15 2009, 11:27
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Not a difficult poll to preditc
This is mine. Agree with most of the ares, but the suprise might be in the North West and North Cape where the ANC might get - 4% less than what the survey state. ANC will at the end of the day win by - 62%.... BUT they are already on the road to self . .more

by gd on April 15 2009, 12:31
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Where the voters stand
It is very clear that, based on the survey conducted, the ANC will win outright majority in all the provinces except for the WC province. I believe that if the ANC strengthens its campaign in this final week at and all around the latter province, the . .more

by Mthobisi on April 15 2009, 12:46
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Hey Ryan Coetzee
Who do you represent? Please tell us a little about your poll.
Personally I think if the DA doesn't pass 15% this time they should accept that they never will reach any critical mass nationally to be considered anything more than a rabble.

by Curious on April 15 2009, 13:20
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Your fate is sealed!!!!
Looks like you got the horror of horrors still to contend with only this time with an idiot that does not have concience

by RUS on April 15 2009, 14:07
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Response to Wendy
Wendy, black people do not stay in shebeens. why are you so outdted and rude.

Shebben ownwers were denied licenses to enjoy their mother lnd by granting them access to and in urban areas where they can operate "pubs" which really are also . .more

by Astonished on April 15 2009, 14:11
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Why Focus On Race?
I so look forward to the day when race is not the single way to 'slice and dice' the voting population. As Theseus mentioned, this only serves to perpetuate the racial lines. SA needs to break from this mould, and start to really move towards 'colour . .more

by DropTheRaceCard on April 15 2009, 14:24
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Truly astonished
Oh do get a life Astonished! It's not about the shabeens it's about ignoring ratepayer issues in favour of trolling for black votes. Councillors are there to address serious issues such as health, environment, land invasions and so on. The police are . .more

by Wendy on April 15 2009, 15:17
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ANC perpetuates RACE through BEE Scorecards
The ANC introduced PRIVATISED RACE CLASSIFICATION BOARDS other wise known as EMPOWERMENT Agencies. These agencies score employees on the colour of their skin and provide BEE Scorecards ( a euphemism for RACE CLASSIFICATION ). SA Business licked the . .more

by Comeedy director on April 15 2009, 16:11
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ANC LIVES and it Leads
The Results on the 23rd of April 2009:

ANC = 80%
DA =7%
CORE-MBEKI =3%
ID = 1%
IFP =1%
UDM =1%
PAC=2%
ACDP =1%
FREEDOM FRONT 2%



LONG LIVE KHONGOLO WABANTU

by Communist on April 15 2009, 16:37
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Opinion surveys unreliable in earthquakes
It is a well-established fact that opinion surveys are highly unreliable at times when suddent shifts in opinion take place -- for one thing, there is usually a big lie factor. Voters will even lie to opinion survey takers.

The outcome is . .more

by Pecksniff on April 15 2009, 17:22
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Get with it, Sniff
The earthquake was Polokwane. This is the tsunami.

by Domza on April 15 2009, 21:55
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ANC Landslide
Cope has come off the rails. The selection of Dandala, poor organisation & the DA's fight back strategy (essentially the politics of race) will solidify support amongst the two larger parties: the ANC & the DA. Contrary to what Helen Zille thiks, the Stop . .more

by jj on April 16 2009, 00:39
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where voters stand
It is clear where voters stand and it has been clear over all these years of post apartheid period. They stand with the ANC particularly the african majority in terms of election results, while the majority of whites, Indians and Coloured stands with DA . .more

by zulu carpet on May 17 2011, 09:09
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