Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress had been fighting for decades to free South Africa from apartheid. In 1994, they were able to compete in South Africa’s first free and open elections, but the ANC was a liberation movement, not a political party, and they were fighting an election against the disciplined, experienced machine of the incumbent government. In their struggle, the ANC had won the right for all South Africans to vote, but to win the election they would have to prove to voters that they could also run the country.
Stan Greenberg, who had considerable experience in South African politics, and who had set up a Southern African Research Program as a professor at Yale, began in 1993 to help the ANC prepare for the 1994 campaign. Using groundbreaking survey research conducted throughout South Africa, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner helped the ANC focus its campaign on the aspiration for “a better life for all.” This future-oriented, inclusive and optimistic framework allowed the ANC to present its plans and policies and emerge as the party ready to govern and lead. Conscious of the new context they were operating in, the ANC focused not just on mobilizing voters, but persuading them as well. In 1994, Nelson Mandela would lead the ANC to victory and change South African politics forever. GQR continued to work with the ANC to ensure the victory of President Thabo Mbeki in 1999.
GQR worked with local researchers to provide qualitative research, face-to-face campaign polling, and strategic advice.