In February 2011, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni further extended his already twenty-five-year tenure by winning a resounding re-election victory. In the aftermath of the vote, which many had earlier predicted would be competitive or even result in an opposition victory, analysts and opposition supporters ascribed Museveni’s victory to his government’s massive pre-election spending on public goods, and to supposedly widespread vote-buying practices. While the opposition clearly could not compete with Museveni and his National Resistance Movement in terms of access to resources, our analyses of survey data—from two pre-election surveys conducted by Afrobarometer in November/December 2010 and January 2011, and a three-wave pre- and post-election panel study— find little evidence that Museveni benefited significantly from practices such as public goods outlays, district creation, and vote buying. Additionally, we find little evidence that fear and intimidation are responsible for the results, and more support for hypotheses that Museveni’s re-election was driven by an uninspiring opposition slate, widespread satisfaction with macroeconomic growth, and an improved security situation, particularly in the Northern Region.
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