Sunday, April 11, 2004

According to today's SA Sunday Times the latest Markinor poll suggests that the ANC will obtain, 65.2% of the vote, the DA 11.8%, the IFP 8.3%, the ID's 7.1%, the NNP 4.2%, the PAC 1.1% and the ACDP 0.9%.

A number of things are suprising about this. Firstly, in defiance of all other recent evidence, the ANC is not going to get its much desired two thirds majority. Of course the likelihood is that it will find a couple of minor parties willing to form an alliance to put it over 66.6%, but the fact that it will not secure a mandate to change the constitution by itself should give it pause for thought. Secondly, the NNP will probably secure just enough support to allow it to limp on in some or other form. Whether it will stick with Kortbroek, a man who has presided over one of the most spectacular party implosions in recent memory, is another matter altogether. If they had any sense they'd ditch him, but I very much doubt they will. The real surprise though, is that the IDs are, still, looking to do very well. 7.1% is a much better result than I or anybody else has been predicting (see Bronwyn and Laurence). Interestingly, since the DA seems to have gone up slightly and the ANC has remained pretty much the same (from 1999 that is) it would appear that de Lille is taking support from the NNP, the UDM and the host of minor parties. So this confirms what we've all suspected, she's going to cannibalise the opposition rather than make inroads into the ANC's support base.

Having said that, there is another way of looking at these figures. One of the things they reveal is the extent of the UDM's collapse. From 3.4% in 1999 to a share of the 0.4% not accounted for by the other parties today. But, as most of you will no doubt recall, the majority of the UDM's support came from the Eastern Cape, where it polled just less than 13% in 1999. What's interesting about this is that it appears to have been won at the expense of the ANC whose support in the Eastern Cape fell from 84% in 1994 to 73% in 1999. At the time this was not entirely surprising. Bantu Holomisa was a former leader of the Transkei and member of the ANC and it appears that his supporters followed him into the UDM rather than stick with the ANC. But since 1999 the UDM has more or less collapsed and I'm fairly certain that those people who supported Holomisa last time around will now go back to voting ANC, just as they did in 1994. But if Patricia de Lille is not getting her 7% from former UDM supporters, and she's not getting it from disgruntled DA supporters, then just where is she getting it from? From the ANC, of course. The numbers make sense, I think. If the ANC's support remains roughly the same as it did in 1999 despite the fact that former UDM voters are returning to the fold, then it must be losing support elsewhere. Some of it is going to the DA (whose share of the vote looks likely to rise by 2% or so) and a good 3 or 4% is going to the ID's. So perhaps we shouldn't be too hasty in dismissing Patricia de Lille's claims to be expanding the opposition vote.

If the analysis above is correct, then the other interesting thing is that it reveals the stupidity of the NNP's strategy. Their share of the vote looks set to fall by 3% despite the fact that there appear to be former ANC supporters up for grabs. There should be no surprises here. Disillusioned ANC supporters are hardly likely to turn to one of its partners to register their dissatisfaction. Likewise, if you support the ANC then you vote ANC not one of the minnows that attends it.

Of course, all of this is sheer speculation. I have some doubts about those Markinor poll numbers and I'll eat my hat if the ID's get more then 5% and the ANC gets less than 66%. Nevertheless, and rather against the grain of my expectations, Wednesday is shaping up to be very interesting indeed.

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