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Letters to the editor: May 10 to 16

‘Election research ‘a mighty effort’

It’s worth recalling for the historical record that the election research for the ANC in 1994, which Professor David Everatt illustrated in the The fine art of polling (May 3), was a mighty effort among five teams.

The contract mentioned was between the ANC and Case (Community Agency for Social Enquiry), a nongovernmental organisation that had conducted decade-long research for the ANC. Case employed Everatt.

Other members of the Case core team were Dr Ros Hirschowitz, Derek Schrier (a volunteer from the United States) and myself (Dr Mark Orkin) as project leader and Case director.

A consortium, including Susan Booysen (now a professor at the Wits School of Governance), had put a similar proposal to the ANC, which had arranged for us all to collaborate. Case’s fieldwork was done by Research Surveys of Cape Town, including a market research technique devised by University of Cape Town academic Jannie Hofmeyr. The ANC’s own election team was formidable, led by Pallo Jordan and including Gill Marcus and Tony Trew, with Ketso Gordhan as executive.

We were basically social scientists. Polling is a specific genre. The ANC imported Bill Clinton’s pollster Stan Greenberg and his partner, Frank Greer. They applied their wizardry and advised the ANC team on design and strategy, using the results we produced. (In a subsequent election Greenberg advised the Democratic Alliance.) — Mark Orkin, Case director, 1985-1995; Ros Hirschowitz, Case senior researcher, 1992-1995; and John Aitchison, Case board member, 1985-2015.

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