Where Angela Merkel’s voters went — by the numbers

The conservative CDU/CSU alliance lost around 6.5 million voters to other parties. But where did they go?,

How did Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) end up with their worst ever result in a national election?

Along with their Bavarian sister party, the CSU, the CDU lost around 6.5 million voters to other parties or to non-voters, compared with the 2017 general election. Pollster Infratest dimap has mapped where these voters went — as well as the other movements between parties, for the broadcaster ARD. It reveals the patterns of movement that pushed the CDU/CSU into second place behind the Social Democrats.

It’s important to note that the figures are estimates based not on polls or survey data, but on very granular election results, analyzing in which municipality each party gained and lost support and how the electorate changed there overall. This also gives an insight into which voters of a party are gone for good. Around 7 percent of CDU/CSU and SPD voters died in the period since the last election — a higher proportion than parties such as the Greens whose supporters are generally younger.

Counting second votes for the party lists, the CDU and CSU lost around 2 million voters to Olaf Scholz’s SPD in Sunday’s vote. In addition, around 1.3 million switched to the liberal Free Democrats since 2017 and another million went over to the Greens.

The Social Democrats also lost 960,000 voters from 2017 to the Greens, but gained 700,000 in return. With almost 60 percent of all those who voted SPD in 2017 doing so again in 2021, the party also benefitted from loyal voters and managed to attract voters from all other camps.

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