Public Attitudes toward Zimbabwe's 2018 Elections: Downbeat yet Hopeful?

Zimbabweans will go to the polls in presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections on July 30, 2018. These elections are the first test of the popular will since the dramatic military intervention of November 2017 that forced an end to the 37-year reign of Robert Mugabe. To assess the prevailing public mood, including voting intentions, a pre-election survey was commissioned. The survey interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,400 Zimbabweans between April 28 and May 12, 2018, that is, some three months before the election. This policy paper addresses the following questions: What explains the seemingly contradictory public mood among Zimbabweans? What is the election about? To what extent will large numbers of young voters affect the nature of the campaign and the outcome of the election? What can we surmise about how the "reticents" (that is, those who refuse to reveal a partisan preference) might actually vote? To what extent do citizens worry about a lack of ballot secrecy, bias in the mass media, and the possible announcement of incorrect election results? What can advocates of free and fair elections, including in the international community, do about these unresolved issues?