The DA has moved to within six percentage points of the ANC in Gauteng, with the governing party's decline in the country's economic heartland seemingly continuing despite a concerted effort to win back lost voters, according to the DA's internal polling.
The poll, which News24 has seen, shows support in Gauteng for the three biggest parties last Monday (April 22) stood at:
- ANC: 44%, down from 48%
- DA: 38%, up from 34%
- EFF: 10%, down from 11%
Nationally the DA is polling in the range between 24% and 26% and the ANC between 56% and 59%.
These numbers, described by one party strategist as "astounding", have also forced the DA to accelerate its preparations for government. According to senior staffers they have begun their preparations to take over the Gauteng provincial government in earnest, including identifying current senior officials implicated in wrongdoing and corruption who they will act against.
The party has also started preparing some officials to take up senior government positions, including those who will be deployed as heads of department.
These numbers suggest that the ANC has not been able to win back support lost since 2014 and that efforts by the DA to woo disillusioned former ANC supporters are getting more traction than initially thought.
The ANC's provincial support levels have declined steadily since the 2009 elections, with the party losing control of the municipalities of Johannesburg and Tshwane in 2016. President Cyril Ramaphosa has been the centrepiece of the ANC's campaign in Gauteng over the last few months.
More black support
DA strategists say their latest data shows that support among black voters in Gauteng is increasing and if trends continue the party might even have more black support in the province than the EFF come May 8.
Their research indicates that the ANC was hurt by the violence that errupted in Alexandra and that the continued internal tension in the party, like the controversy around its secretary general Ace Magashule, does not sit well with many voters.
"It also shows that pushing the ANC to below 50% in the province is within reach. But voting patterns remain incredibly fluid and volatile, so for us the last week or so will be critically important," one senior staffer told News24.
The DA numbers are in stark contrast with other polls, including the latest one by MarkData conducted for eNCA, which shows the DA struggling in the province. Conversely, the IRR's last survey showed growth for the DA.
The DA believes its polling data, proven to be accurate in the past, provides a clearer picture of the changing environment because its methodology ensures that undecided voters are also weighted, unlike other polls that discard them.
It also takes into account expected or projected turnout numbers. "But it still remains only a snapshot of patterns at a particular period in time. But the clear trend is a move away from the ANC," the staffer explained.
The IRR will be releasing a new set of polling data on Tuesday.