Déjà Vu for Le Pen

FTI Consulting Research on French Presidential Election

Strategic Communications

April 18, 2017

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Recent polling of the presidential election from a range of polling firms has been consistent: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are both comfortably ahead of the third-place candidate and will advance to the second-round run-off, where Macron will beat Le Pen by a wide margin.

However, there are significant numbers of voters who could change their minds or abstain from voting, and this has convinced some analysts that Le Pen could win the race. While we agree that there is real uncertainty in the poll results, we do not think the data provides much hope for Le Pen

Polling requires respondents to provide answers on the spot. But in the real world, many voters do not decide who to support or whether to vote at all until election day. FTI Consulting’s public opinion research on the first round of the election shows that 20% of all French voters have not decided who to vote for and a further 26% could be persuaded to change their vote. So a whopping 46% of the electorate are potential swing voters. And worryingly for Macron, 50% of his voters identify themselves as potential swing voters, compared to just 24% for Le Pen.

But Macron’s first-round polling has been steady for over a month. The biggest move in recent weeks has been the rise of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is now within a few points of third place. But Mélenchon’s rise appears to have come at the expense of Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon, not Macron. So there is no reason to think that enough Macron voters will abandon him in the final weeks to push him out of the second round.

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