ANC still riding high among voters in spite of Nkandla scandal
Exclusive Poll | Survey suggests ANC support down slightly to 65.5% as of April on average turnout of 74.5%
A second fully representative Ipsos survey of 2219 registered voters, commissioned for the Sunday Times, puts support for the ANC at 65.5%, the Democratic Alliance at 23.1% and the Economic Freedom Fighters at 4% between March 21 and April 4.
The levels of support were calculated on an average voter turnout of 74.5%.
The turnout in the 2009 national election was 76%.
This second survey follows an earlier representative Ipsos survey of 2222 registered voters.
That poll put support for the ANC at 66.1%, the DA at 22.9% and the EFF at 3.7% between February 20 and March 11, on the same turnout. Thus, it appears public protector Thuli Madonsela's report on Nkandla had only a marginally negative effect on the ANC's support by the beginning of April (down from 66.1% to 65.5%).
The report was released on March 19, the day before the survey was conducted.
Undecided voters (those who answered "don't know" or refused to say) were distributed in both surveys according to the political preferences they expressed in response to a range of other questions.
The result also suggests a two-thirds majority is still possible for the ANC, although it is becoming more remote as its support decreases. If that trend continues, support might well dip into the low 60s come election day on May 7.
The DA's support remains virtually unchanged (22.9%, up to 23.1%), and the EFF shows a marginal increase, up from 3.7% to 4%.
These figures indicate that the DA seems set to grow the most in this election. If it can hold on to its 23% share, it would represent growth of just less than six percentage points from the 16.6% it secured in 2009.
The ANC seems likely to lose some support. Its support is fractionally down from the 65.9% it secured in 2009.
The EFF did not exist in the 2009 election.
It is important to understand that this survey is not a prediction. It is a snapshot in time.
It shows the mood of the electorate five weeks from election day. There are still almost three weeks of electioneering to go and they will have an effect on the final levels of support.
Of the smaller parties, the Inkatha Freedom Party registered significantly for the first time, with 2.8%. The Congress of the People also secured more than a single percentage point, with 1.3%. Both parties' support would be down significantly from 2009 when they secured 4.5% and 7.9% respectively.
No doubt the ANC and, to a lesser degree the DA, have benefited from the relative collapse of these two parties. The EFF would have gained some ANC support.
Because the IFP vote relies on rural voters, there is a possibility it is slightly undercounted in this survey. The difference, however, would be marginal come election day. The same can be said of the EFF and the National Freedom Party (which registered 0.3% but will probably do slightly better).
Other parties that traditionally feature around the single percentage point range are unlikely to add to their support base. The African Christian Democratic Party hovers at 0.8%, the Freedom Front Plus at 0.7% and the United Democratic Movement at 0.6%. Worryingly, for newcomer Agang, its support was so low it failed to register in this latest survey.
Its support was down from 0.4% on March 11.
It is important to note, however, that all these smaller opposition parties are well within the margin of error for the survey and so, off a low base, their support could fluctuate marginally when voters go to the polls.
One of the key measures of success for the DA in this campaign will be the support it secures among black voters.
In the first survey and at 22.9%, the DA secured the support of an estimated 6.5% of all black voters. In the second survey, at 23.1%, it registered 4.9% of all black support. The margin of error, however, is slightly bigger when analysing the DA's own voter universe (between 2.6% and 5.9%), and so it is fair to say its percentage of black support rests between 4% and 8% as of April 4.
That means it could end up with a greater proportion of all black voters than the EFF.
The DA does, however, have the most diverse support base of the big three. All black, white, Indian and coloured supporters break down among the parties as follows: ANC (83% of black voters; 4% of whites; 11.7% of Indians; 23.3% of coloureds); DA (4.9% of black voters; 84.1% of whites; 78.4% of Indians; 71.6% of coloureds); EFF (4.8% of black supporters; 0.4% of whites; 2.9% of coloureds).