Which party will woo the 2.2 million undecided voters? Here's what the data says

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After what feels like an incredibly long and turbulent season of political campaigning by the various political parties, the final days of campaigning have come with the May 8 general election less than a week away.

With 48 parties contesting for South Africans' votes, many registered voters have already chosen which party they will put a cross next to.

However, there are some 2.2 million undecided voters who could influence the outcome of the election.

The above number is based on a "medium" turnout scenario of 73% (19.6 million registered voters) of total registered voters. Of these, 19.6 million voters, roughly 11% (2.2 million registered voters) are still undecided.

An analysis of the South African Citizens Survey (SACS) by Citizen Surveys, which compared and analysed public opinions across various dataset categories from December 2018 to April 2019, showed that the following three factors will be influential in swaying these undecided voters:

1. Political party and political leader preferences

The political bent of the undecided voters was analysed by examining their party and preference in political leader. This reduced the proportion of undecided voters from 11% to 3% (just under 700 000 registered, undecided voters). The impact of their vote would be as follows: 

  • ANC: An increase of +5%, due to the impact of President Cyril Ramaphosa, places the ANC's estimated electoral performance at 61% (from a baseline of 56%);
  • DA: A small increase, attributable to Mmusi Maimane, places the estimated electoral performance of the DA at 20% (from 19%);
  • EFF: A slight increase of 1%, due to the preference of Julius Malema, indicating how largely synonymous he is with the party. The net effect is an estimated electoral performance of 10% (from 9%).
  • Other Parties: Remains unchanged at 5%.
Undecided voters (Image: Citizens Survey)

(Image: Citizen Surveys)

2. Party alignment wit solving priority issues

Reza Omar, strategic research director at Citizen Surveys, stated that "another factor that could influence who the 'undecideds' opt to vote for would be how the parties have managed to position themselves in relation to solving some of the country's biggest problems, often done via their manifestos and election campaign messaging. Often, those voters who make up their minds at the last minute, look to parties that they believe can help solve the issues that most directly impact upon their lives."

  • ANC: The ANC is most closely associated with providing basic service delivery such as water, housing, and maintaining roads. This is unsurprising as the ANC is, and has been, the governing party over the past quarter-century.
  • EFF: In line with their election manifesto, the EFF is strongly associated with reducing corruption. Over the past three years, the EFF has protested against corruption, taking a leading role in the holding former president Jacob Zuma accountable and have, therefore, become associated with reducing corruption.

  • DA: The perceptual positioning of the DA reflects a lack of clear policy and direction, with no strong links to any of the country's critical challenges. This is problematic for the party when attempting to win over the undecided voters into their camp, by promising to solve some of South Africa's most pressing problems.

Party association

(Image: Citizen Surveys)

3. Perceptions on who is blame for the Eskom crisis

Though the lights may have stayed on throughout April, the crisis at Eskom and the ever-looming threat of loadshedding weighs heavily on the minds of South Africans. Though the immediate, tangible inconvenience associated with power outages is understandably frustrating, the effects of loadshedding have an adverse impact on the country's economic growth and productivity which can lead to job losses, worsening the unemployment crisis.

SACS revealed that 22% (8.5 million people) blamed the government and an additional 15% specifically mentioned the ANC. Roughly 23% (8.6 million people) blamed Eskom staff (the leadership) for not doing their jobs properly while 21% (7.8 million people) cited state capture.

Who is to blame for Eskom crisis.

(Image: Citizen Surveys)

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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