Richard Johnston, Julia Partheymüller, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck
Activation of Fundamentals in German Campaigns

S. 217-237 in: Bernhard Weßels, Hans Rattinger, Sigrid Roßteutscher, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck (Hrsg.): Voters on the Move or on the Run?. 2014. Oxford: Oxford University Press

A substantial body of evidence about the activation by election campaigns has accumulated in the United States and some other countries, not much is known yet about the German case. This chapter focuses on the 2005 and 2009 elections and asks whether and how ‘fundamentals’ are activated during pre-election periods—in general but also contingent on the specifics of particular campaigns and on voters’ political sophistication. Apart from its intrinsic interest, the case presents a useful contrast with mainly US-based evidence. Results show that German campaigns activate some electoral considerations some of the time. Not all ‘fundamentals’ are activated: Some are active from the very start, while others do not perform impressively at any point. Activation on one side of the ideological spectrum is not mirrored by activation on the other. Most strikingly, however,—and substantiating the larger claim by way of counterfactual—some campaigns activate more than others.