No.18 Moving from race- to performance-based politics: Swing voters in South Africa’s 2016 local elections
Adam S. Harris
Who are the swing voters in South Africa’s racially-charged elections? This study is among the first to systematically investigate the correlates of the swing vote in South Africa. I argue that race, cohort, performance, and partisan networks influence the likelihood that an individual is a swing voter. To investigate these arguments, this study uses original exit poll survey data from South Africa’s 2016 local elections. The results indicate that swing voters in the 2016 elections are those who have weaker racial identities, weaker attachments to their racial group’s party, are born free, have lower assessments of ANC performance, and have fewer friends and family who support their preferred party. The paper also predicts what drives swing voters to support a certain party. The results have key implications for race and identity-based voting in South Africa and dominant regimes across the continent.