Wed Sep 21st, 2005 at 07:37:22 AM EST
We will be discussing the significance of the German election, in many ways, for days to come. Here's an interesting piece from the diaries ~ whataboutbob
As SPIEGEL ON-LINE writes (in German), all five big pollsters failed spectacularly in predicting the result of the German elections. Below a graph summing up the deviations:
During the last elections, Allensbach was the worst - with a sum of errors of 7.2%, then ridiculed as extreme, now even the best is worse. What you can also see reinforced is that the political party-connected institutes (Allensbach and Emnid close to CDU, Forsa to SPD) are the less precise. But as there is a tendency, there was either a false groupthink and skewed questions asked in surveys, or some really strange last-minute developments in voters' minds.
Beyond the now well-known "we don't want a Grand Coalition!" CDU/CSU to FDP swing, there's the around 1% - you can only calculate this - whom they counted for the CDU/CSU instead of the far right, probably a result of not offering the brownies as a choice to the polled people.
Then look at the Greens' consistent underestimation by 1.1% - I can only explain this by a grand swing from CSU (mostly back) to Greens in Bavaria. Which happened, but I'm not sure why and why now - maybe this is an example of traditional voting (see below) not taken into account.
Update [2005-9-21 3:57:43 by DoDo]: I sum up other possible factors suggested so far by others in the comments:
- changes in participation: rose in left-voting East Germany, fell in the conservative South (thanks Minerva);
- far-right voter hiding: many won't admit their voter intentions, pollsters forgot to foresee that (thanks Saturday);
- large numbers of undecideds and no-confidence vote for Merkel (thanks brainwave).
I note that as in the USA, published polls in Germany aren't the unprocessed result of surveys.
In the USA, the survey results are re-weighted by the assumed numbers or party allegiance distribution of registered voters etc.
In Germany, some institutes re-weigh after comparing last election resuts with surveyed people's claims on what they voted for, and some also re-weigh based on assumptions on the power of tradition (i.e., that some people will name a different party than the one they used to vote for to the surveyer, but once in the voter booth, they don't dare to vote differently).