As of: 13.09.2021 12:04 p.m.
The role of the attacker does not actually fit Laschet, says communication scientist Brettschneider. in the tagesschau.de-Interview he advises the Union to focus less on the candidate and more on issues.
tagesschau.de: Mr. Brettschneider, what surprised you about this TV triall?
Board-cutter: It was clear that it would be one of the last chances for Armin Laschet and that he had to go on the offensive. Especially after very high expectations were formulated on him at the CSU party congress. Laschet wanted to show that Olaf Scholz’s actions contradict the SPD program. But Scholz was well prepared for that. He apparently learned from the first triell that he cannot smile away accusations and that he has to show a reaction.
It was surprising that Scholz did not go into defense, but rather constructed a real performance show from the accusation. In the end, Scholz was even able to use the allegations for himself. Annalena Baerbock was able to watch somewhat relaxed. In the end, she also came out as the most likable candidate in the polls as she was the least involved in these skirmishes.
tagesschau.de: Laschet’s attacks were presumably at the expense of sympathy values …
Board-cutter: It is a risk of such attacks. That can easily seem dogged and at the expense of sympathy. But sympathy values are not decisive, they are among the most unimportant candidate traits. More important for the candidates are the values of competence and trustworthiness – and walking the tightrope, despite all attacks, not to come across as tight. Laschet succeeded in doing this.
Reactions to the second TV triad by Laschet, Scholz and Baerbock
Moritz Rödle, ARD Berlin, daily news 12:00 p.m., 13.9.2021
tagesschau.de: Are the voters lashing out on the new role of the attacker?
Board-cutter: The role of the attacker does not suit him. When he took over the chairmanship of the party, he showed himself to be a reconciler and a leader. That is exactly the problem with the CDU: It lacks a consistent narrative. When evaluating singular events like Trielle, we often forget about long-term embedding. It’s never the one gig that can turn everything around. A triell must be part of good communication planning over a longer period of time. This can be seen in Scholz. There it looks like one piece. For a long time, this strategy was not even discernible in the Union. Also because the candidate’s question was already fraught with quarrels. The CDU party headquarters failed to prepare for Merkel’s successor any longer. The single triall only has an effect if it fits into a larger strategy. Then it is one of the many instruments.
tagesschau.de: Was Laschet still able to score?
Board-cutter: An important function of the Trielle is that the supporters of the parties are mobilized for the last few weeks. That they stand up for the CDU again in discussions with neighbors, with friends or at work. Usually this mobilization has to take place much earlier in an election campaign. Nevertheless, Laschet at Triell succeeded in doing this – according to the surveys by Infratest dimap. The second group is that of the undecided voters. And none of the candidates could really achieve that.
Frank Brettschneider holds the chair for communication science at the University of Hohenheim. Among other things, he researches political communication such as election research.
tagesschau.de: Wouldn’t the votes of the party supporters be the ones that Laschet would have got in the end anyway?
Board-cutter: Normally yes. In the past, people with party affiliations always looked at TV duels through their party-political glasses and felt confirmed. But Laschet’s big problem at the moment is that many CDU supporters, because of the great dissatisfaction with Laschet, speak out in favor of the SPD in polls. Bringing back those who wanted to break away is the first step he must take. We’ll see if he succeeded.
tagesschau.de: The impression remains that everything Laschet is currently doing is assessed as wrong. How does he get out of this situation?
Board-cutter: Laschet can’t get out of there. The point now is to limit damage.
tagesschau.de: What would you advise him to do?
Board-cutter: I would advise the party to focus less on the candidate for chancellor and more on its issues. The CDU should have focused much earlier on the topics in which it is assigned the greatest competencies. That is internal security, external stability and economy.
In addition, there is the right framing – i.e. which frame this choice is imposed on. The first story – second vote is chancellor vote – will be that of the SPD. Scholz is ahead, the SPD will put the candidate in the foreground. The CDU, on the other hand, will frame the second vote as the directional vote. So it’s not about the Chancellor, but about the political direction a government in Germany will take. Laschet has already tried to do this with tax policy and the CO2 levy.
tagesschau.de: What effect can such a TV triall actually achieve?
Board-cutter: We lack the empirical values of the TV trials. In a three-person constellation, there are different dynamics and different processes. However, we rarely experience a real change of opinion. Undecided voters are more likely to react to individual statements. In this trial there were no outstanding statements that stick. It was different with Schröder or Merkel. Even if we did, we see that this effect has disappeared again after a week at the latest. It’s always about the question of whether a story will be spun on for the next few days. And I don’t see them here. There is no excitement that one can talk about much longer. That is an advantage for Scholz.
tagesschau.de: What will happen in the next two weeks?
Board-cutter: Scholz will try to avoid mistakes. Baerbock and Laschet will target the undecided voters and sharpen their content. You will try to highlight the differences like a woodcut. The subject of money laundering is arguably too complex for the undecided and the general public. Presumably the CDU will try to make it clear that whoever votes for Scholz also gets Esken, Kühnert or the Left Party in government. But that will probably not be enough. So we still have to wait for the actual game changer.