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Rolling Cross-Section Campaign Survey with Post-election Panel Wave

(Component 2)

Several elements of the GLES are designed to allow for the best possible measurement of the short-term dynamics of campaign communication and its effects. To achieve this, movements of public opinion need to be observed at close intervals during the campaign. GLES combines two components that complement one another for that purpose (components 2, directed by Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, and 3, directed by Harald Schoen).

RCS studies trace aggregate change on a day-to-day basis, and are very sensitive instruments for measuring campaign-induced shifts of public opinion, immediately registering voters’ reactions to any foreseeable or unforeseeable event occurring during the campaign, and allowing to detect the decay or sustenance of these effects. Although they do not capture intra-individual change during the campaign, they can be easily supplemented with a post-election panel wave, which then allows for pre-post-election comparisons at the individual level based on a representative sample.

At the German Federal Election of 2009 a daily rolling cross-section (RCS) campaign survey was conducted within the framework of the GLES with 100 interviews per day on average for the final 60 days of the campaign. Interviewing was organized in such a way that not only the entire sample but also the subsamples available for each day of the campaign constitute random samples of the universe of all voters. Conducted by telephone (CATI), it thus produced about 6,008 interviews in total. 4.027 of the pre-election respondents were re-interviewed after the election.

At the German Federal Election of 2013 the study was replicated: The pre-election field period was extended to 76 days and on average about 104 respondents were interviewed per day. Altogether this yielded 7.882 pre-election interviews. 5.353 respondents were re-interviewed after the election.

Using an RCS campaign survey as the pre-election wave, followed by re-interviews of the same respondents after the election has in recent years become a standard design for analyzing short-term change at elections. It combines the advantages of the RCS design with those of a pre-post-election panel survey and has been successfully introduced in Germany for analyzing campaign dynamics at the Bundestag election of 2005.