ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa visits Bloemfontein as part of the party's election campaign. File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

it is a wake-up call for anyone expecting some rude national shock for the ANC on May 7, says Mike Wills.

Cape Town - The election is six weeks away today and it still doesn’t feel like it has taken any real shape. Campaigns are more about street poles than opinion polls which means we tend to fly blind.

Our economics and demographics don’t allow for the kind of intensive, constant surveying of voting intentions which track elections in the developed world, which is why political analysts voraciously fell on the Ipsos poll published in the Sunday Times last weekend.

That poll would’ve had them turning cartwheels inside Luthuli House as it indicated national ANC support had risen in the past six months – in spite of a media-projected world of turmoil and corruption – and that the party was headed for a two-thirds majority with the DA at around 23 percent.

This survey was done before Thuli Madonsela’s damning Nkandla report but after more than enough coverage of that shameful issue to entrench opinion.

On the big mystery of how Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters will do, Ipsos predicts 3 percent nationally.

The same survey forecasts Cope is heading for oblivion and the IFP for not far short of that, even in KwaZulu-Natal.

There are plenty of serious methodological doubts around this poll but it is a wake-up call for anyone expecting some kind of rude national shock for the ANC on May 7.

However, the survey still offers plenty of intrigue in the election within the election. Breaking out provincial data from this sample size (2 222) is risky but does provide a rough guide which shows Gauteng is the place to watch.

Even on this ANC-bullish poll, the party has plummeted in that province from 64 percent in 2009 to 54 percent.

There’s enough margin for error in there for the ANC possibly to still fall short of a majority.

Being forced into coalition in the nation’s most important province would represent a significant humiliation and would be the first really sizable crack in the virtually monolithic governing presence of the “party of liberation”.

In the Western Cape, Ipsos put the DA and the ANC at more or less 2009 levels – 52 percent and 30 percent respectively. Which leaves the question of where Cope’s 2009 provincial 7 percent and the ID’s 4 percent has gone? According to Ipsos, many of them seem to be backing Julius Malema. The EFF registered 8 percent in the Cape, double the national number and also double the projection for his Limpopo home base.

I don’t buy those EFF figures but we do have a curious fragmentation going on within the opposition landscape in the Cape.

Of late, most of the visible running against the DA has come from Andile Lili and Loyiso Nkohla and their poo-flinging, street-protesting colleagues.

The ANC expelled both men and then looked on unsure what to do when their nasty tactics gained traction.

This was the party’s base on the march and yet the ANC’s provincial leaders surely know that violent protests push away the middle ground they desperately need to win over.

Lili and Nkohla are now back in the ANC on a technicality and the local party has an extremely difficult juggling act to pull off – somehow painting the province as being in need of a major change while arguing that the national government should remain intact, and somehow at the same time being aggressive to hold off the EFF and reassuring to win the Cope-types and DA-doubters.

Their street posters of Jacob Zuma (not exactly a local hero in these parts) and a bland slogan about togetherness will not help them to achieve any of that.

* Mike Wills’ column Open Mike appears in the Cape Agus every Wednesday.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus