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By Hein Kaiser


Online chatter points to DA’s lead as election frontrunner

Bold Online's analysis reveals DA's growing online presence, while ANC faces decline and EFF's support recedes.

Analysis of online chatter ahead of the election shows the Democratic Alliance (DA) is creeping ahead – at least when it comes to being the topic of discussion.

Three weeks ago, The Citizen reported on the seeming surge in support for the DA. More recent analysis by online marketing company Bold Online showed that the party’s momentum has not slowed down, while in an opposite direction, the ANC remains on a slippery slope.

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EFF’s online support shrunk

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) support online has shrunk since the last report, but the party remains the third and most significant force.

Based on data points analysed, said Michele Venter of Bold Online Marketing, about 25% of voters are still either undecided or have shown interest in smaller parties.

“A lot of people are also still trying to establish when the election is,” she said. “And interest is growing.”

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As with the municipal elections in 2021, these smaller parties may end up being kingmakers to either the DA or the ANC, with the EFF’s support either strengthened or weakened.

Presently, online data, based on real-time behaviour of South Africans and not opinion as with a normal poll, the ANC enjoys around 30% popular support with the DA in the lead at 39%. The EFF has seen its support receding to just under eight percent.

No way to account for people who don’t have access

Venter said that while these numbers are telling, there’s no way in which to account for people who do not have internet access or who may be in ignorance of the upcoming elections.

Measured against the most recent, traditional opinion polls, where the ANC was pegged at about 40% support, the DA was measured at just over 21%. The EFF dropped from 19% to just over 11%, while uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party seemingly earned around 8.5%of the support.

Yet, online, MK enjoys the same level of interest as small parties like Rise Mzansi and various others.

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“Freedom Front Plus has shown no real gains, while the Patriotic Alliance’s support only surfaces intermittently, dependent on what leader Gayton McKenzie posts on social media,” she said, with parties like Rise Mzansi and other newbies to the ballot tracking far behind.

“The smaller players to watch are ActionSA and Bosa [Build One SA],” Venter said. The latter emerged from less than a blip on the online radar a few weeks ago, to a more visible and growing support base. Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA is also steadily climbing in popularity.

Flag-burning advert a tactical masterstroke

The DA’s controversial flag-burning advert and the Kiffness parody that followed was a tactical masterstroke, said Venter. “It ignited conversation and took the DA into conversations where it may not have featured prominently before.”

MK’s only real influence online seems to be Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, said Venter, adding the party may do better at a provincial than national level.

“They are competing for EFF and ANC votes, but a lot of conversation still centres around Jacob Zuma’s legacy of questionable conduct,” said Venter.

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Interestingly, she added, in the 2019 polls, the ANC consistently beat the DA in data point analysis, right up to election day.