Tension rises as French poll gaps narrow

A week ago the indications were clearly present that France was moving towards a serious four-way contest in the Presidential first round. That has been richly confirmed in the seven days since, with the gap between the leading four candidates narrowing further – it stands at between three and seven points across this week’s 16 polls from eight research organisations (chart below).

 

 

The source of that narrowing comes from (a) Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s continuing rise, hitting 20 per cent in today’s (Friday) polls from Ipsos and BVA and (b) a small fall-off in both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen’s scores. Le Pen was down to 22 per cent in today’s Ipsos and BVA polls, her lowest scores this year. Macron, while still ahead by a neck, also hits 22 per cent with Opinionway and Ipsos – a level not seen for him since mid-February.

Francois Fillon totalled either 19 or 20 per cent in 13 of the 16 polls, which must encourage him given the high number of his supporters’ asserting that their choice is certain, and the older, higher-turnout demographic he attracts. In those polls that appear once a week he has made gains with Harris, BVA and Ipsos, while holding level with Elabe and Odoxa.

Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon achieved double figures in only one of the 16 polls, sinking to an all-time low of 7 per cent with Opinionway on Wednesday 12 April, although he has subsequently regained two points in that daily ‘rolling’.

Cumulatively the six remaining ‘minor’ candidates are gaining slightly improved support – probably reflecting the start of the ‘official’ campaign period on Monday this week, when the balance of media airtime is more strictly controlled, hence giving them a publicity surge. With between 7 and 9.5 per cent of voting intentions available to be squeezed by the top four candidates in the remaining nine days, it will be intriguing to see how well these ‘expressive’ preferences hold up.

For second round polling, little is changed in the duel between Macron and Le Pen, with the centrist candidate still credited with a walkover by all pollsters. However several firms have now begun to ask about all six plausible scenarios for the second round. The (slim) evidence so far is that Macron would beat any other opponent, that Fillon would beat Le Pen, and that Mélenchon would beat either Fillon or Le Pen.

 

FRANCE: PRESIDENCY
First round voting intentions, range in per cent, week of 8 to 14 April
(comparison to previous week in brackets)

Emmanuel Macron (En Marche!) 22.0 to 24.5 (was 23.5-26)
Marine Le Pen (Front National, FN) 22.0 to 24.0 (was 23-26)
Francois Fillon (Les Républicains, LR) 17.0 to 20.0 (was 17-20)
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (France Insoumise) 17.0 to 20.0 (was 15-18)
Benoit Hamon (Parti Socialiste, PS) 7.0 to 10.0 (was 9-11.5)
Others (6 candidates combined) 7.0 to 9.5 (was 4-8)

Second round voting intentions:
Macron 58.0 to 67.0 (was 59-63)
Le Pen 33.0 to 42.0 (was 37-41)

Polls included: Ifop/Fiducial (5 daily ‘rolling’ polls), Opinionway (5 daily ‘rolling’ polls), BVA (14.04), Ipsos-Stopra Steria (14.04), Elabe (11.04), Harris Interactive (13.04), Odoxa (14.04), Kantar Sofres Onepoint (09.04)

 

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