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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO
Doing Business As Name:University of California-San Diego
PD/PI:
  • Clark C Gibson
  • (858) 822-5140
  • ccgibson@ucsd.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Karen Ferree
Award Date:07/19/2009
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 233,825
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 233,825
  • FY 2009=$233,825
Start Date:07/15/2009
End Date:06/30/2011
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040101 RRA RECOVERY ACT
Award Title or Description:Explaining the African Vote
Federal Award ID Number:0851473
DUNS ID:804355790
Parent DUNS ID:071549000
Program:Political Science
Program Officer:
  • Brian Humes
  • (703) 292-7284
  • bhumes@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:Office of Contract & Grant Admin
City:La Jolla
State:CA
ZIP:92093-0621
County:La Jolla
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:49

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of California-San Diego
Street:Office of Contract & Grant Admin
City:La Jolla
State:CA
ZIP:92093-0621
County:La Jolla
Country:US
Cong. District:49

Abstract at Time of Award

This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). Despite pouring millions of dollars into programs to further the democratization of Africa, donors remain uninformed about one of the most important facets of politics on the continent: Why do Africans vote they way they do? Most observers of African elections view the process as a mere ethnic headcount: all citizens vote for their own ethnic group regardless of the performance of the incumbent government and without reference to the issues of the day. Yet there is scant evidence to support this view. In the vast majority of African countries a single ethnic group cannot achieve a majority of the votes. Ethnic coalitions break down and shift frequently and politicians from the same ethnic group are members of different political parties. The salience of ethnicity to politics in African countries varies widely and elections produce violence in some cases but not others. Moreover, our knowledge of the motivations of African voters remains murky, based primarily upon anecdotal reports, studies of a small number of (unscientifically selected) cases, or surveys that measure attitudes but not actual electoral behavior. Surprisingly, few scholars up to this point have employed the most powerful tool to measure vote choice: the exit poll. The investigators plan to explore the determinants of voting in Namibia, a transitioning democracy that features a dominant ethnic group: the Ovambo in Namibia represent nearly half the population. Scholars and policymakers consider Namibia to be on its way to stable democracy. However, a single party (SWAPO) has dominated politics since independence. To what extent is this dominance based on ethnic claims, and to what extent of performance or issue evaluations? Understanding the motivations of its voters opens the way to a deeper understanding of African politics, and help to inform scholarly opinion and the challenges (or not) that remain with respect to democracy promotion. This project will have broader impacts by placing four graduate students and one undergraduate student in the field. The knowledge they will receive through helping to construct, manage, and analyze this exit poll is required to advance training beyond the classroom. For two of the students, it will be their first experience in Africa. For all, it will be the first time they are involved in generating quantitative scientifically produced primary data. This nation-wide exercise will also help in the participation and training of hundreds of enumerators in Namibia. Finally, the poll can also provide another check on the official electoral results which may prove unreliable given the challenges faced by the Namibian electoral commission to conduct a free and fair election.

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