Election Study Baden-Württemberg 2011
The study investigated processes of public opinion formation and decision making in the run-up to the election in the German state of Baden-Württemberg in 2011. The study was based on a new and innovative design that was used for the first time ever in Germany – a rolling panel study. The rolling panel study combines the advantages of rolling cross-section designs with those of classic panel designs. In the course of our study (from November 2010 until May 2011), a total of 17,000 interviews were conducted online spanning over a total of five panel waves, three of them “rolling”. Implementing such a rolling panel, it becomes possible to scrutinize aggregate changes of attitudes and behavioral intentions on a day-by-day basis, as is the case for rolling cross-section studies. But the design also allows analyzing individual changes and their causes – typical features of panel studies. Given the special circumstances of the state election and its preceding campaign (that was characterized by a number of extraordinary events, among them “Stuttgart 21” and the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima), the new design was put to a critical test and proved its applicability. The campaign events left visible marks in the collected data and – as a consequence – the (dynamic) processes of public opinion formation and decision making could be analyzed in great detail, applying state-of-the-art theories from the fields of political communication and political psychology. In a nutshell, the contributions of our study are twofold: On the one hand we were able to develop and successfully implement a new study design. On the other hand (and based on the methodological innovation), we were able to gain new insights into campaign dynamics in the run-up to state elections.