There has perhaps never been more international interest in the latest French election polls than the 2017 presidential race on Sunday — and it’s still the first round. Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and François Fillon are all still very much competitors.
If French election polls are accurate, Emmanuel will be the president of France in less than one month’s time. Macron vanquishes every possible competitor in the second round by a sizable margin, and in the first, he narrowly but consistently finds himself in the top two with Marine.
— Jaehaerys Brunestud (@Jaehaerys48) April 20, 2017
All of the three latest polls released the Friday before the election reflect this outcome. Macron took 23 percent of the vote in one poll from Odoxa/Dentsu that surveyed 666 likely French voters. In two other polls, his margin of victory was even wider. He took 25 percent of the vote in surveys by BVA/Orange/Presse Regionale and Ifop-Fiducial. The latter poll featured the largest sample size of the group with 2,800 respondents.
Le Pen, however, isn’t far behind. Marine trails him by two percentage points in two of these polls, and in the Odoxo/Dentsu poll, she is tied with him at 23 percent. Neither candidate has been outside of the top two polling slots since February when François Fillon’s campaign was rocked by scandal.
Unless polling is off, Emmanuel and Le Pen will likely face off for the French presidency on May 7 in the second round. Unfortunately for Marine, she has almost no chance of overcoming her opponent if she confronts him there. Polls show at least a 60-40 result for Macron should they be the second round candidates.
4 French polls—gap between Le Pen/Macron & Fillon/Melenchon narrows
Le Pen 24/23/24/24
JLM 19/17/18/19 pic.twitter.com/qWkHcwZ7uO
— Taniel (@Taniel) April 12, 2017
Following the failure of polls to predict the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the passing of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, faith is shaken in their ability to accurately predict the outcome of the election. In reality, any of the top four candidates is within striking distance of the second round. Both Fillon and Mélenchon have at least 19 percent in the three latest surveys, trailing between 4 and 6 percentage points behind the leaders.
FiveThrirtyEight’s Harry Enten noted that while the French election polls have been consistent, the past difference between pre-election polls and actual results had averaged of margin of error of three percentage points — enough for the candidates to shift. Furthermore, Enten argued that several other factors could be skewering polls, including the fact that there are eleven candidates appearing on the ballot.
“A lot of candidates from across the ideological spectrum are realistically in contention, increasing the likelihood that voters will cast their ballots strategically or will switch allegiances at the last minute… Second, pollsters may be herding — putting their thumb on the scales so as not to get any result that’s too far from the consensus (by weighting their results towards the average).”
The political climate has changed significantly in France since the 2012 presidential elections. The current president François Hollande has such a low approval rating that he did not even run for a second term, and the Socialist Party candidate in his place trails the four leaders by at least 9 percentage points in all polls. Below, you can see how some of these voters have redistributed to the new candidates since the 2012 elections.
— #Valencianes! (@EsElMoment_) April 20, 2017
Marine Le Pen
Marine hasn’t shied away from comparisons to Donald Trump during the French presidential campaign. She has, in fact, openly praised him, and even decided to stop at Trump Tower for coffee during a visit to New York City. Like the American president, Le Pen has been called Islamophobic by the press for a hard line on immigration. She was taken to court for inciting racial hatred when she compared Muslim immigration to the Nazi occupation of France, reported BBC News.
Also, like her North American counterpart, she favors economic protectionism, similarly waging war on globalism in her speeches. One of her key bases of support are rural French, much like the districts which carried Trump to victory. While refusing to give an endorsement, the U.S. president did recently say that she was the “strongest candidate” in the presidential race.
Unlike Trump, Marine is not running for president in a country with an electoral college system. While she has maintained the top level of support for most of the campaign, her support nearly tops out in the first round. Many French citizens would sooner not vote than for Ms. Le Pen.
She also strongly differs from Trump in political experience. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been in politics for decades, making it to the second round of France’s presidential elections in 2002 — where he lost by the widest margin in the country’s history to Jacques Chirac.
The presidential candidate leading the polls has also been compared to a U.S. president: Barack Obama. Likewise, he has also welcomed the association. Emmanuel shared a snippet of his call with the former American president on social media earlier this week. Others have compared him with Hillary Clinton, sometimes unfavorably, in the context of his more centrist approach to politics.
If the Russian government is trying to shake up the established order, Macron would be their biggest roadblock. He’s the only candidate who is considered antagonistic to Russia, and he’s also spoken out the most about remaining in NATO and the European Union. One article from Sputnik quoted a source linking him to the “wealthy gay lobby,” a insinuating rumor that followed him throughout his candidacy.
Jean-Luc has gained massive ground in the polls since France’ s first presidential debate, making him a possible contender for the second round.
While he is a Eurosketpic, he’s also sought to clarify that he isn’t planning to spring Frexit on the country immediately. He has, however, stated his intention to pull France out of NATO. The business world is also skittish of his policies, some perhaps even more so than those of Le Pen. Mélenchon advisor Liêm Hoang-Ngoc, a lecturer in economics at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University, explained the details of the candidate’s economic plan to left-wing publicaiton Jacobin.
“First, there is an economic reboot centered on the environment. We will plan a €100 billion investment program to stimulate the economy, financed by borrowing. The other component is a redistribution policy that will reform pensions, establish what we call an integrated social security, and redistribute income in favor of lower- and medium-income households.
“That will proceed via tax reform for both individuals and businesses. We are going to cut business tax but at the same time increase taxation on the profits that the big corporations do not reinvest. And also increase taxation on wealth. Our policy is aimed at rebooting investment, wages and employment, while combatting unearned income.
“Then there will also be a program to fight poverty, with minimum benefits raised to the poverty threshold, meaning €1,000 a month.”
A leftist soars in French election polls: https://t.co/kaEdBjj4Kc
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) April 17, 2017
At one point, the French presidential polls were showing an easy face-off between Le Pen and Fillon in the second round, but that was before the emergence of Macron and Mélenchon, both of whom undoubtedly leached some of Fillon’s “anyone but Le Pen” vote. Furthermore, he’s been embattled by a pernicious scandal where he’s accused of setting up a lucrative government job for his wife that she never performed. It’s made his appeal that French people need to get to work, with cuts to welfare, fall on deaf ears.
French election polls will close on Sunday evening, which is when voters will find out if Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron, Francois Fillon or Jean-Luc Mélenchon will face off to be the president of France.
[Featured Image by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]