For which party have citizens voted back in 2013 who cast their ballot for the AfD in 2017? Were these voters AfD-adherents all along or did they abstain at the previous election or were they even voters of leftist parties at the previous elections?
In survey research, there are two ways of finding out: First, you can ask citizens after the federal elections 2017 about their vote choice at the recent election and then you also ask them to remember their vote choice at the previous election. The problem is that human beings are bad at remembering things. Just as we forget where we put our keys (only 5 minutes ago!) we also forget who we voted for four years ago. We are very bad at remembering. Research by Ruth Dassonneville shows that only half of those voters who have actually switched party choices between elections do remember that they had switched.
Therefore, the better option is having asked those voters already in 2013 about their vote choices and then to ask them again right after the elections in 2017. This requires tracing respondents for a long period of time which means a lot of survey administration (and comes with other caveats, such as panel attrition). However, in addition to the accurate recall, such longitudinal survey data provide so many other benefits. For each individual, you can trace how his or his opinions about Merkel and immigrants (and how the personality or individual sense of efficacy changed) over all these years.
Such a longitudinal dataset is now available for the German Federal Elections 2013 and 2017.
- Respondents surveyed 18 times
- before/after German federal elections 2013 & 2017
- about 5,000 substantive variables
- free, open and well documented (German only at the moment)
You can find the data here.
This dataset is provided by German Longitudinal Election Survey. Other GLES panel datasets include GLES 2017 Campaign Panel (web, N=20,000), Long-Term Panel surveys (based on probability facetoface sampling), RCS (2 waves, telephone).