Sep 022017
 

Eight months of polling

While I was doing other stuff, elsewhere, the German polling industry has been busy. Over the last eight months, the big seven have published results from 144 surveys with a total of 266,715 respondents. With just three weeks to go until election day (and postal voting well underway, what can they tell us?

They AfD is good at spinning

Much in line with the tenor of the international press, a British journalist asked me the other day how the AfD had managed to “bounce back”. Well, they have not. The height of their popularity was arguably in 2015/16, when they were solidly in double-digit territory for a while. Since the beginning of the long campaign in January (when the AfD did better than now), they have been stuck between seven and ten per cent in the polls. This pattern still holds. The AfD gets 10/11 per cent in two recent polls, but these were conducted by companies that tend to produce rather high estimates for the party’s support. In other equally recent polls, companies that tend to give lower estimates for the AfD put them at nine / eight per cent, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the credible interval for current AfD support ranges from 7.8 to 9.3 per cent.

afd-insa-2017-09-02.png

Another object of rather intense media focus has been the question whether the AfD will be Germany’s third-strongest party on September 24. The aggregation model is not sure: In 10,645 of 60,000 simulated outcomes of the election, the AfD is the strongest of the minor parties. That’s 18 per cent of all runs, which roughly translates to “rather not”.

left-afd-2017-09-02.png

Either way, the question is quite irrelevant. The real issue here is that all minor parties enjoy very similar levels of support. If this support translates into real votes, there will be four minor parties in parliament, and coalition building is going to be a difficult, but not impossible (see below).

greens-fdp-2017-09-02.png

The Christian Democrats will be the strongest party (bloc) by a fair margin

Long gone are the days of the “Schulz Effect”, this dreamy moment early in the campaign when support for the SPD and the Christian Democrats became indistinguishable. For weeks on end, the CDU/CSU have been roughly 15 percentage points ahead of the SPD. One must admire the dedication of the SPD’s campaigners, but closing that gap looks like a very unlikely feat.

spd-union-2017-09-02.png

A look at possible coalitions

So far, the field has changed very little over the last weeks:

overall-estimates2017-09-02.png

While tactical voting can mess with support for the FDP (that’s the way I burnt my fingers four years ago), not a single simulation out of 60,000 suggests that the FDP will remain below the electoral threshold. All four minor parties are currently well above the electoral threshold, and their respective levels of support are indistinguishable. Take that, media people.

In terms of possible coalitions, that means (amongst other things) that right now, there is no chance for a leftist (red-red-green) government: the combined vote share for the three left parties is in the range of 39-41 per cent. This implies that there is no majority for an SPD/Green coalition, too. There is also no majority for a “traffic light” (SPD/Green/FDP) government. In sum, on current polling the probability of an SPD-led coalition (and hence the probability of a Schulz chancellorship) is nil.

But there is a not-too-shabby chance for a traditional centre-right coalition. Thanks to the strong support for the Christian Democrats, the CDU/CSU and the FDP have a (narrow) majority in 23 per cent of the simulations. A “Jamaica” (CDU/CSU+FDP+Greens) coalition would have a solid majority in all of the simulations. And of course, there is always the prospect of yet another Not-so-Grand coalition.

So it looks that I was right to sell in May and go away: If the polls reflect the reality of German politics, and if that reality remains reasonable stable for another three weeks, there are 2.23 viable coalitions that would be led by Angela Merkel, and not a single one that would be headed by Martin Schulz.


Also published on Medium.

  8 Responses to “State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M”

  1. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  2. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  3. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  4. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  5. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  6. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  7. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

  8. RT @kai_arzheimer: New blog: State of the German polls: The initials of Germany’s next chancellor would seem to be A & M https://t.co/Krk6D…

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