(GLES) Campaign Dynamics of Media Coverage and Public Opinion
The 2005 German federal election marked a culmination point of changes that had been going on for decades as a consequence of general social change and that were additionally spurred by German unification. These changes concern the behaviour of voters, the instability of which has reached unprecedented heights, as well as the context within which voting decisions are made, including the parties and their candidates, the campaigns run by them, and the mass media. The confluence of these developments led to a substantial increase in the fluidity of the electoral process with potentially far-reaching implications for German representative democracy. Focusing on the three federal elections of 2009, 2013 and 2017, the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) observes and analyses how today’s mobile electorate adapts to this new constellation of electoral politics, which is characterized by a so far unknown degree of complexity. Using state-of-the-art methodologies, the project generates and extensively analyses a comprehensive, complex, and integrated data base that links cross-sectional with longitudinal data, both short-term and long-term. It combines surveys about voting behaviour with key dimensions of the context within which votes are cast, by means of analyses of media, candidates, and campaigns, and it spans several elections, covering both campaign periods and the time in between elections. All data generated by this hitherto most comprehensive programme of German electoral research are treated as a public good and made immediately accessible to all interested social scientists (via GESIS). Within the GLES network, this MZES project is responsible for conducting two components of the project for the 2009, 2013 and 2017 German federal elections: rolling cross-section campaign surveys (RCS) with post-election panel waves and content analyses of mass media coverage during the election campaigns.
During the first half of 2015, a team of eight has coded the newspaper material of the campaign media for a content analysis of print media. Subsequently, the data set was made user-friendly and documentation materials were compiled. In July 2015 the data set was published by GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences in German and English. With the release of this data set, all the data collection of the second round of the GLES project was completed. The GLES team prepared the manuscripts for its second book in English. The planning for the third round of the project has started.