2019 South African general election: Analysis and News

Melanie Verwoerd: How to read political polls ahead of upcoming 2019 election

Kieno Kammies speaks to Melanie Verwoerd about the build-up to the general elections which will be taking place on 8 May 2019.

This is the first of a weekly discussion she will be having with Kieno, looking at various aspects and dynamics of the election process.

Political opinion polls seem to present such a range of differing results.

She explains how these opinion polls work.

They give as a bit of a projection into the future. They want to know if the election was held today, what would happen?

Melanie Verwoerd, Analyst and former ANC MP

She says both voters and political parties study these results closely.

There are different types of polls. Firstly, those done by outside bodies

Either polling agencies like Ipsos, it does that for a living, or think tanks like the Institute for Race Relations who are often slightly politically aligned. And then parties do internal political polling that they usually keep under lock and key because they don't want people to know the results.

Melanie Verwoerd, Analyst and former ANC MP

So how come sometimes polls get it so wrong like in the USA with the Clinton trump results? She says in South Africa it is useful to suggest what we should look out for when assessing poll results.

Here are some factors to consider:

  1. The size of the poll
  2. Geographical spread
  3. Urban-rural balance
  4. Face-to-face poll
  5. When it was conducted
  6. Whether registered voters were polled

Take a listen to more insights into the recent polling results below and Verwoerd's assessment of where political parties are currently situated:


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