South Africa's Election Proves Polls Right, "Race War" Theorists Wrong

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 8 2014 10:58 AM

South Africa's Election Proves Polls Right, "Race War" Theorists Wrong

After Nelson Mandela died, I engaged in some high-speed eye-rolling about some fears of a coming South African "race war." The Daily Mail, on location, warned international readers of the kahi'd race-populism of Julius Malema. According to the paper, six months ago, "polls this week showed a huge surge in support among young black South Africans for his policies."

The polls actually showed Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters Party at 4 percent. Polls closed yesterday, and with more than half the vote counted, the EFF ended up surging to... 5 percent. Actually, the whole election was an endorsement of polling accuracy over narrative. The ruling African National Congress had spent the past five years rolling from scandal to scandal, and struggling on the economy, as foreign currencies (the dollar for example) weakened the rand. Pundits asked whether the ANC would suffer at the polls, and noted how poorly President Jacob Zuma was received at Mandela's funeral. There was even a whiff of U.S.-style "crowdsmanship," after the final ANC mega-rally ended with a lot of empty seats.

But the final polls suggested that the ANC would walk back into power with maybe only a slight decline from its 66 percent vote share of 2009. And it's doing so, currently winning 63 percent of the vote. The more multi-racial Democratic Alliance has won its best-ever result, which is only a slight improvement on five years ago -- they continue to run the Western Cape and nothing else. Data journalism: It works.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.