On Sunday, DA leader John Steenhuisen took the lead ahead of all major political leaders in the country.
Published The Citizen | 1 November
After weeks of positive sentiment loss, Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader John Steenhuisen enjoyed a last-minute surge in popularity amongst leading parties on the eve of the local government elections.
On Sunday, Steenhuisen took the lead ahead of all political major leaders in the country, with web traffic suggesting the DA’s high level of online undecideds may be doing some late umming and aahing.
Decision making is likely to be based on social media influence. Today’s poll is anyone’s gain.
She adds that over the past 48 hours, sentiment has switched online.
“It’s game on between the ANC and the DA.”
Murray adds that today, social media, particularly Twitter, should play a major role not just in mobilising people to cast their vote, but who to vote for.
“The neutral or undecided vote remains substantial, and it’s not just a contest between parties, but a test of their muscle to get voters going to make their mark.”
John Steenhuisen leads positive sentiment amongst leaders, with a 24% warm glow, according to Meltwater’s indexing. His negativity rating is around 20%.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s trails at just over 4% online love and closer to a 30% unlike.
ActionSA continues to make ground, with its leader Herman Mashaba clocking in at 12% positivity and around 14% negativity.
“The negativity factor is crucial,” says Murray, “and this will be expressed online today, making influencer statements more critical for parties.”
The EFF’s Julius Malema ranks at 11% positivity and hovers around 18% on the negativity scale.
But the most recent Ipsos survey that pegs the ANC at less than 50% support also shows a dramatic decline in the DA’s likely votes.
It shows newcomers ActionSA gaining some ground.
“Combine the poll with online sentiment and the picture drawn is clear.
“Sentiment tides may be turning, but is it peaking online at the right time to swing votes in any particular party’s favour or, for that matter, to create greater interest in actually voting?” questions Murray.
Top searches right now seem to be heading the ANC and DA’s way primarily, with the EFF and ActionSA in third and fourth place.
Early this morning, the search ratio was 10 to 4 between the ANC and DA, the ANC-EFF search ratio 10 to three, and the current opposition online rally places the DA first, then the EFF, and then ActionSA in search rankings.
“The DA is outperforming search as people are comparing, it seems, the ruling party to the official opposition first, and then splitting off to other parties to check them out,” says Murray.
“Online sentiment is a moving target and hard to get right for any political party, yet most South Africans are online and on social media, and this is where the final answers, at any moment in time, provides an answer.”
Murray adds that the patterns online and on social media continue to point to a coalition in many of the major metros, including Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini and Tshwane.