If you were looking ahead at the state election in Rheinland Pfalz in the spring of 2016, you need to step back and review the 2011 election results.
Kurt Beck led the SPD Party in 2011 in Rheinland Pfalz and was a popular political figure in the region (for years and years). The SPD got a fairly strong vote in 2011 with 35-percent. What should be said here....is that the 2006 election results were better (46-percent).....which begs some questions.
The loss of votes went mostly to the Green Party, which emerged in 2011 to be a significant factor in Rheinland Pfalz. Prior to 2011.....there were only two significant parties in the state, and five or six minor parties which generally took up twenty-odd percent of the state vote.
For the CDU, the 2011 results were 35-percent. The Greens took 15-percent, which was a major upward swing over the previous election.
Among the dozen-odd parties remaining on the ballot....they took approximately fifteen-percent of the state vote, and were mostly all non-players.
The major cities within the state? Mainz (the capital), Frankenthal, Kaiserslautern, Idar-Oberstein, Worms, Koblenz, Landau, Ludwigshafen, Neustadt, Speyer, Pirmasens, Trier, and Zweibrücken. None of these are what you'd describe as urbanized areas. Most have a population of 100,000 or less.
The curious historical feature of Rheinland Pfalz? When you go throughout the world and examine immigration of Germans to various countries (not just to the US).....an awful lot of the German heritage leads back to Rheinland Pfalz. In the 1800s, as the continued recovery from the 30-Years War went on....the population boomed, and opportunities became less and less. So migration out of Rheinland Pfalz became a big deal in the 1800s.
An American would travel the length of Rheinland Pfalz and say it's a rural state, with a large segment dedicated toward agriculture (the "Iowa" of Germany). It's the only state in Germany with a cabinet officer for the wine industry.....which might be a strong indicator of the value of wine commerce and trade in the region.
The normal topics for a state election in the Pfalz? Agricultural chatter, infrastructure (roads and bridges), local school funding, bike trails, and state funding to local community projects. The new topic for 2016? Immigration and asylum will likely get quickly up to the top, with various sides talking of more support, less support, or challenging the Berlin strategy over the whole thing. What you can generally bet on....is that normal voting patterns will be disrupted. So whatever happened in 2006 or 2011....won't be repeated.