Last night came state-run/public TV's Frontal 21 show. It's a news documentary show where they go and dig deep into news. The topic for ten minutes? The news team went to North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) and looked at the perception of locals over the upcoming election. It's scheduled for late spring.
A lot of things have changed since the last NRW state election in 2012. The SPD Party had been able to capture 39-percent of the vote....easily beating the CDU Party at 26-percent.
So they went to ordinary working-class people and various towns throughout the region. Trouble is brewing....big-time.
The three towns visited? The team noted the unemployment rate in each....now drifting between 10 and 14 percent. They found various older guys who are marginally making it and seething with anger over limited jobs and no real income change. They found guys who were unemployed in their mid-50's and had zero chance to locate another job. They found a general public angry over incoming migrants, the amount of state-money thrown at them, and here was the lower-income German who needed help but couldn't get it.
The message? There's this massive loss of votes factor being figured up for NRW's state election. There's virtually no possibility that the SPD can reach the 39-percent again.
I went and looked at the last two polls done (one in the past week, and the other at the end of October of last year). What the poll data shows is that the SPD is resting here at the beginning of the campaign period with roughly 30-to-32 percent of public. The CDU is at virtually the same level. AfD? They are sitting at roughly 10-percent.
Unlike American poll efforts which went off and screwed up in 2016.....you typically don't see German polling organization miss the number by more than one-percent. There are exceptions, I admit....but it's awful rare.
There's roughly a hundred and twenty-odd days between now and 14 May (election day). Campaign efforts will step up a notch, and get fairly heated. With new leadership nationally for the SPD, they might be able to just slide up a point, and maybe marginally win this election.
The effect of the AfD? There's this odd thing I noticed from the Frontal 21 episode and the interviews they did on the street. As they found and talked to former SPD voters (life-long voters, I should note).....all were angry and frustrated. All were going to vote for AfD, as a frustration-vote.
This frustration thing that I've continually chatted upon for the past year or two....is a driving factor for AfD. People aren't really asking a lot of questions or digging deep into the AfD material or platforms. They don't care. AfD is simply a message to both the CDU and SPD....that's how the public is viewing the situation.
The odds of AfD going past the 15-percent point in NRW? There is a former SPD political figure from NRW who stood up and walked away from the SPD.....and today is a AfD member. If the public-TV sector does debates, and this one AfD guy does the talking....harping on lack of jobs and disgruntled voters....he's bound to pick up another percent or two from each debate. If I were the CDU or SPD Party in NRW.....I'd limit myself to one single debate, and hope that the news media just doesn't give this guy a chance to speak.
The big issue from this one single state election? It's the last state election prior to the federal election in late September. It has a major impact if the SPD loses....if the AfD were to cross some unexpected 18-percent point, or if the CDU were to reach some fantastic 35-percent win.
As for fixing the NRW economic problem? Don't expect much out of this election, and I'd expect the disgruntled voter trend to continue through to 2022 (the next state election). The AfD will still be around, and more disgruntled voters will be added to the list.