Last Sunday, the TV debate between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her SPD-challenger Peer Steinbrück marked the start of the final “hot” phase of the election campaign. The viewers of the debate evaluated the performance of Steinbrück as slightly more convincing than that of Merkel (42:38 percent). For almost every fifth viewer (17 percent) the result was a draw. However, those who did not follow the debate themselves on the screen have a different opinion: according to them, Merkel was more convincing than her opponent (29:18 percent) which roughly corresponds to the expectations measured before the debate. Nearly the same amount of non-viewers (19 percent) does not pick a clear winner. A third of the non-viewers (31 percent) did not see themselves in a position to deliver a judgment. Thus, the result is in sum a balanced picture among those eligible to vote: about one third seeing Merkel as more convincing and about one third Steinbrück (35:33 percent).
During the TV debate Peer Steinbrück demanded that the development of the pensions of civil servants should be pegged to the development of the statutory pension scheme. A clear majority of 63 percent supports this position. Only 24 percent disapprove. The SPD candidate also profits from his performance during the TV debate and improves his personal rating to 47 percent in the days right after the broadcast. This is an increase of 12 points compared to last month. The last time Steinbrück’s approval ratings were this high was at the end of 2012. The main reason for this improvement is the much stronger support among followers of his party, the SPD. Currently, 91 percent of them are satisfied with their candidate whereas four weeks ago only 69 percent evaluated his performance positively. However, Angela Merkel is still the most popular politician: 70 percent of the citizens are satisfied with the way she is handling her job and she has gained 3 percentage points.
In the question whom to directly elect as chancellor a clear majority of eligible voters prefers the incumbent: 54 percent would choose Merkel and 34 percent her opponent. Compared to last week, the distance between the two is down by 6 points to a 20 percentage point gap -- mainly due to Steinbrück’s increased support among SPD-followers.
The social democrats have profited from Steinbrück’s performance in the TV debate on the personal level. On party level, however, they can only gain profile in very few policy fields. In contrast to the SPD, the CDU/CSU receives the highest trust rating in most policy fields. They are not only leading in economic fields but also receive high trust in their problem-solving skills concerning the handling of international conflicts.
As a consequence, the political opinion climate is still favorable for the CDU/CSU: currently they would get 41 percent of the vote like in the previous week. The SPD could gain one point and would receive 27 percent. The Greens continue to loose (- 1 point) and would get 10 percent. The Left party (8 percent), the FDP (5 percent) and the AfD (3 percent) remain stable.
These are the main results of the ARD-DeutschlandTREND in September 2013, conducted by infratest dimap on behalf of ARD-Tagesthemen and the daily newspaper DIE WELT.
Universe:Eligible voters in Germany
Sample design:Representative random sample/Dual Frame
Data collection method:Computer-based telephone interviews (CATI) /Dual Frame
Base size:1.002 respondents
Vote intention: 1.502 respondents
Field period:2st - 3rd September, 2013
Vote Intention: 2nd-4th September, 2013
Error margin:1,4* to 3,1** percentage points
* at a share of 5%
** at a share of 50%