A Comparative Case Study of the Voting Behaviour of Poor People in Three Selected South African Communities

This paper shares comparative data from a quantitative study which was undertaken in two selected poor communities during 2013 in Johannesburg (Riverlea and Doornkop) and a rural community in the Limpopo province in 2014. The two key factors that were explored, might explain voter preferences, namely identification and loyalty on the one hand, and on the other clientelism, social grants and vote-buying. What the study shows, firstly that long-term party loyalty and party performance are the main predictors of voter preferences, irrespective of geographic location. Secondly, in all three areas, it is unlikely that the majority of poor voters will be persuaded to vote for a particular party on the basis of receiving food parcels before elections. Finally, the study displays that one in six voters would consider voting for a party that provides a social grant, with this trend being most prevalent in the African communities of Doornkop and Limpopo. Therefore, it could be argued that social grants can be used as a campaign strategy of gaining (or retaining) support from grant-holders and could influence the floating vote.