South African National Election Study

South African National Public Opinion Surveys

Idasa National Election Study 1994

This survey focused on the 1994 general election and specifically on voting intention, attitudes towards democracy, economic evaluations and various other political issues. Questionnaires were translated into seven languages. Fieldwork was conducted between 26 August and 16 September 1994 and 2517 eligible voters were personally interviewed. The type of instrument used was a semi-structured survey personal interview recorded on questionnaires. The final results were weighted to reflect an electorate estimated at 24 million voters.

Survey instrument; DatasetCodebook; Technical Report

Idasa Opinion ’99

Opinion '99 was a series of opinion polls conducted prior to the 1999 election by Idasa, Markinor and the SABC, and the Electoral Institute of South Africa. They provide information about South Africans’ views of the political, social and economic developments in the country since 1994. The polls covered key issues related to the conduct of free and fair elections, voter participation, and other economic, political and partisan trends. The samples for Opinion ’99 were drawn using a multi-stage, area stratified probability sampling methodology, and stratified by province, population group and community size and all three samples were representative of the universe from which they were selected. The type of instrument used was a semi-structured survey personal interview recorded on questionnaires.

Survey instruments: Nyulo 1; Nyulo 2 Survey; Nyulo 3 Survey; Nyulo 4 Survey; Nyulo 4 Dataset: ; Codebook; Methodology; Technical Report 

Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) 2004 

The CNEP is a multi-national project that studies political communication and social structure within the context of election campaigns using compatible research designs and a common core of survey questions. The CNEP III round was designed to incorporate question items suited to the study of partisan politics in newly established democracies. It also includes batteries of questions dealing with socio-political values that may be of great relevance to electoral politics in non-Western regions, as well as with the integrity of electoral administration and the quality of democracy. The 2004 CNEP survey was carried out nationally across South Africa following the third democratic elections. The sample was drawn using multi-stage, stratified, area cluster probability sample. During the survey at least 1 200 personal interviews were carried out. See more at

Survey instrument; Dataset; Codebook; Technical Report 

Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) 2009

The 2009 CNEP survey was carried out nationally across South Africa following the fourth democratic elections. The sample was drawn using multi-stage, stratified, area cluster probability sample. During the survey at least 1 200 personal interviews were carried out.

Survey instrument; Dataset; Codebook; Technical Report

Merged dataset (1994 Idasa post election study; Opinion '99; CNEP 2004; CNEP 2009)

To be released soon

Other South African National Opinion Surveys that track electoral issues

Links to Afrobarometer, DFL (Idasa 1995, 1997 surveys)

Afrobarometer Surveys 



SANES Publications

Data from South African National Election Study (SANES) surveys have been analyzed and reported in the following publications.

 Peer Reviewed Journals

-Robert Mattes, “South Africans’ Participation in Local Politics and Government.” Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa 66/67 (2008): 116-141.  ISSN: 0258-7696.  

 -Robert Mattes, “Comparing Apples With Apples: Putting South Africans’ Experiences of Crime and Policing in an African Context.” SA Crime Quarterly 18 (December 2006).  ISSN: 1991-3877.

-Robert Mattes, “Good News and Bad: Public Perceptions of Crime, Corruption and Government.”  SA Crime Quarterly  18 (December 2006).  ISSN: 1991-3877.

-Robert Mattes and Roger Southall, “Popular Attitudes Toward the South African Electoral System.” Democratization  11/1 (2004): 51-76.  ISSN: 1351-0347.

-Robert Mattes, “Democracy Without the People: Institutions, Economics and Public Opinion in South Africa."  Journal of Democracy  13/1 (January 2002): 22-36.  ISSN: 1054-5736.

-Robert Mattes and Jessica Piombo, “Opposition Parties and the Voters In South Africa’s 1999 Election.” Democratization  8/13 (Autumn 2001): 101-128.  ISSN: 1351-0347.

-Robert Mattes, Helen Taylor & Cherrel Africa, “Judgment and Choice in the 1999 South African Election.” Politikon: The South African Journal of Political Studies 26/2 (November 1999): 235-247.  ISSN: 0258-9346.

-Robert Mattes, Helen Taylor & Cherrel Africa, “Hegemony, Dominance or Weak Opposition? The Partisan Situation On the Eve of South Africa’s Second Election Campaign.”  Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa  38 (1999): 1-19.  ISSN: 0258-7696.

-Robert Mattes and Hermann Thiel, “Consolidation and Public Opinion In South Africa.”  Journal of Democracy 9/1 (January 1998): 95-110. ISSN: 1054-5736.

-Robert Mattes and Jennifer Christie, “Personal Versus Collective Quality of Life and South Africans’ Evaluations of Democratic Government.”  Social Indicators Research 41/1-3 (1997): 205-228.  ISSN: 0303-8300.

-Robert Mattes, Amanda Gouws & Hennie Kotze, "The Emerging Party System In the New South Africa."  Party Politics 1/3 (1995): 379-393.  ISSN: 1354-0688.

-Adam Habib & Collette Schulz-Herzenberg. Democratization And Parliamentary Opposition in Contemporary South Africa: The 2009 National and Provincial Elections in Perspective, Politikon, Volume 38, Issue 2, 2011.

Peer Reviewed Edited Volumes

-Ian Glenn and Robert Mattes, “Political Communications in Post Apartheid South Africa,” In The Sage Handbook of Political Communications Research.  Edited by Heidi Semetko.  London: Sage Publications (forthcoming 2010).

-Robert Mattes, “Forging Democrats: A Partial Success Story?” In After Apartheid.  Edited by Ian Shapiro & Kahreen Tabeau.  Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press (forthcoming, 2009).

-Robert Mattes, “Elections: 1994, 1999 and 2004.”  In Encyclopaedia of South Africa, Edited by Sean Jacobs & Krista Johnson.  Boulder, Co.: Lynne Reinner Publishers (forthcoming 2009).

-Collette Schulz-Herzenberg, “Trends in Party Support and Voter Behaviour, 1994-2009.”  In Zunami! The 2009 South African National Elections, pp23-46.  Edited by Roger Southall & John Daniel.  Johannesberg: Jacana, 2009.  ISBN: 978-1-77009-722-3.

-Collette Schulz-Herzenberg. Public opinion during the 2009 South African elections. In H Thuynsma (ed), Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics: South Africa’s Missing Links? Africa Institute of South Africa/Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 2012.

-Collette Schulz Herzenberg. Participation and party support in the 2011 municipal elections. In S Booysen (ed), Local elections in South Africa: parties, people politics, Sun Press/ Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 2012. 

-Robert Mattes, “Voter Information, Government Evaluations and Party Images, 1994-2004.”  In Electoral Politics in South Africa: Assessing the First Democratic Decade, pp. 40-63.  Edited by Jessica Piombo & Lia Nijzink.  London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.  ISBN: 1-4039-7123-4.

-Robert Mattes, “Uniquely African?” In SA Tribes: Who We Are, How We Live, and What We Want From Life In South Africa., pp. 82-97.  Edited by Steven Burgess.  Cape Town: David Philip, 2002.  ISBN: 0-86486-598-8.

-Robert Mattes, Helen Taylor & Cherrel Africa, “Public Opinion and Voter Preferences 1994-1999.”  In Election '99 South Africa: From Mandela to Mbeki, pp. 37-63.  Edited by Andrew Reynolds.  Cape Town: David Philip, 1999.  ISBN: 0-86486-405-1 / 0-85255-825-2.

-Robert Mattes, “Hypotheses On Identity and Democracy: Community, Regime, Institutions and Citizenship.”  In Identity? Theory, Politics and History, pp.  151-180.  Edited by Rachel Prinsloo & Simon Bekker.  Pretoria: HSRC, 1999.  ISBN: 90-7969-1916-X.

-Robert Mattes “Do Diverse Social Identities Inhibit Democracy?  Initial Evidence From South Africa.” In National Identity and Democracy In Africa, pp. 261-286.  Edited by Mai Palmberg.  Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute / Cape Town: Mayibuye Centre at University of the Western Cape/ Pretoria: HSRC: 1999.  ISBN: 91-7106-441-9.

-Robert Mattes and Amanda Gouws, "Race, Ethnicity and Voting Behavior.” In Elections and Conflict Resolution In Africa, pp. 119-142.  Edited by Timothy Sisk & Andrew Reynolds.  Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1998.  ISBN: 1-878379-79-8.

-Collette Schulz-Herzenberg. 2007. A Silent Revolution: South African voters, 1994-2006. In S Buhlungu, J Daniel, R Southall and J Lutchman (eds), The State of the Nation 2007. Human Sciences Research Council Press: Cape Town.

-Collette Schulz-Herzenberg. 2006. A Silent Revolution: South African voters, 1994-2006. The Centre for Social Science Research [CSSR] working paper No. 162, University of Cape Town.


Robert Mattes, The Election Book: Judgment and Choice in the 1994 South African Election.  Cape Town: Idasa, 1995.  ISBN: 1-874864-22-5.

Published Conference Proceedings

-Robert Mattes, “Voter Behaviour and Party Dominance in South Africa: Another View.”  In Challenges to Democracy by One Party Dominance: A Comparative Assessment, pp.  105-116.  A Konrad Adenauer Foundation Seminar Report, no. 17, October 2006.  Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.  ISBN: 0-620-37570-1.

-Roger Southall and Robert Mattes, “Popular Attitudes Toward the South African Electoral System: A Report to the Electoral Task Team.”  In Electoral Models for South Africa: Reflections and Options, pp. 81-104.  A Konrad Adenauer Foundation Seminar Report, May 2003.  Johannesburg: Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung.

CNEP Publications

Data from the most previous rounds of the larger international Comparative National Elections Project which SANES joined in 2004 have been published in a number of places, the most notable being:

-Richard Gunther, José Ramón Montero, and Hans-Jürgen Puhle, eds., Democracy, Intermediation, and Voting on Four Continents (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).  Earlier versions of the chapters published in this book were presented at a CNEP workshop held at UCT in 2004 for which the UCT URC gave provided partial funding.

Graduate Student Research

Three recently graduated PhD students have based their dissertations largely or wholly on SANES / CNEP data:

- Collette Schulz-Herzenberg.  2009.  A Silent Revolution? Partisanship in South Africa, 1994-2006.  Ph.D in Political Studies, University of Cape Town.

- Cherrel Africa.  2008. The Impact of the 2004 Election Campaign on the Quality of Democracy in South AfricaPh.D in Political Studies, University of Cape Town.

- Joao Pereira.  2008. Partisan Identification in Africa: An Exploratory Study in Mozambique.  PhD in Political Studies, University of Cape Town.

Planned Publications

Two edited volumes are currently being planned.

The first will focus on the planned SANES 2009 survey.  It will be co-edited by Amanda Gouws, Robert Mattes and Jeremy Seekings, Change and Continuity in South African Elections: The 2004 Election in Historical and Comparative Perspective and feature the participation of other UCT staff such as Ian Glenn, Cherrel Africa, Zwele Jolobe. 

The second will focus on the CNEP surveys from around the globe since 2004 and will be edited by Richard Gunther, Pedro Magalhaes and Alexandro Moreno.  Draft chapters will be sent away by the volume editors by the end of this year to Oxford to test their interest in a follow-on to the first volume.

Journal articles currently being planned from the current study include:

-Collette Schulz-Herzenberg, “The Continuing Importance of Racialized Party Images in South Africa.”

-Cherrel Africa, “Missing the Message: South African Voters, News Media, and Political Parties.”

-Robert Mattes, Cherrel Africa and Ian Glenn, “How Well Do the News Media Inform South Africans’ Voting Decisions?”

-Robert Mattes and Ian Glenn, “How Biased Are The South African News Media: Evidence from the 2004 and 2009 General Elections”

-Ian Glenn and Robert Mattes, “The Advent of Television Campaign Advertising: A Promising Development or Flash in the Pan?”

-Robert Mattes, “’Everybody I Know Thinks Like Me’: The Social Context of South Africans’ Voting Decisions.”

-Robert Mattes, “Blind Loyalty or No Alternatives?  The Sources of Rigidity and Uncertainty in the South African Party Sytem.”

-Jeremy Seekings, “Why South Africans Don’t Punish Political Parties: The Case of Unemployment and the ANC.”



Idasa National Election Study 1994

  • United States Agency for International Development (
  • Institute for Democracy in South Africa

Opinion ‘99


Comparative National Elections Project 2004


Comparative National Elections Project 2009