Macron’s scaremongering – POLITICO

Emmanuel Macron will win the French presidential election this month. Probably.

Despite the rise of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Macron is likely to end the curse of a 20-year French incumbent on April 24 in both the first and second round polls and win a second term at the Elysée Palace.

But the long-frozen race has slipped into shaky territory over the past 10 days, and Macron himself fueled fears of a Le Pen win at a major rally near Paris on Saturday. He suggested that a far-right triumph in France would fit into a disturbing pattern of “great global disorder” – geopolitical, environmental, sanitary and economic. Such a breakdown in national and international consensus, he said, “may raise the specter of a global armed conflict.”

Exaggeration? scaremongering? Yes, partially. The Macron camp is at a loss. She also wants to use the declining poll numbers to revitalize her complacent and passive voter base.

Anything that evokes a lengthy campaign is welcome, but I don’t entirely buy the “Le Pen might win” fear.

When the Ukraine war began six weeks ago, a comfortable victory for Macron seemed certain. He climbed 7 points in first-round polls in two weeks.

Last week, a tremor of uncertainty – even panic – ran through the French political establishment. Two opinion polls by opinion research institutes Elabe and Ifop placed Le Pen within 5 percentage points of Macron in the two-candidate second round on April 24.


For more survey data from across Europe, see POLITICS poll of polls.

Several other polls still showed a 10- to 14-point gap in Macron’s favor.

Does not matter. A flurry of stories commented on an upward trend for Le Pen. Some who had written her off suddenly realized that she was still a force to be reckoned with.

Predicting an election in more than two weeks is a fool’s game. But here it is anyway. Most signs still point to Macron leading the poll in the first round on Sunday and winning the runoff two weeks later.

A second round between Macron and Le Pen was always much closer than in 2017, when 66 percent of voters chose Macron. There certainly won’t be a landslide this time, but talk of a Le Pen rebound is partly based on illusion.

There was no election shift in the first round to the long struggle in the last days; the change was everything within rightmost. Between them, Le Pen and Éric Zemmour share 32 percent support for eight months. In the past four weeks, Le Pen is up 20-22 percent and Zemmour is down 10 percent or below.

Likewise, support for Macron didn’t collapse in the first round. Rather the opposite. For eight months or more, the president has been steady at 23 to 24 percent. After Russia invaded Ukraine, it rose to 30 percent in POLITICO’s poll. He’s now down to 27-28 percent – still well above his pre-Ukraine level and comfortably ahead of Le Pen.

The second ballot is also more stable than the polls by Ifop and Elabe in the past week suggest. POLITICO polling analyst Cornelius Hirsch, in charge of the Polling of Polls, points out that Macron’s second-round “lead” over Le Pen has averaged eight percentage points for many months.

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, Macron’s lead increased. Last week the gap in all polls narrowed dramatically to just 5 points in these two polls. Both Elabe and Ifop have now slightly expanded Macron’s lead again. Overall, the trend has returned to 56 percent for Macron versus 44 percent for Le Pen.

Tighter Race

There are good arguments why Le Pen could come close this year. There’s also good reason to think she’ll fall short again.

Compared to 2017, Le Pen has a more moderate image, created in part by Zemmour outdoing her on migration, race and Islam. Unlike 2017, she has momentum in the polls (though mostly at Zemmour’s expense).

She skilfully exploited the cost of living issue. She has a reservoir of far-right support (Zemmours) that will largely pass to her in the second round.

Above all, Macron can no longer rely on a broad so-called Republican Front – a bipartisan call, including from the left, to vote against the extreme right in the runoff. Some far-left voters have (idiotly) persuaded themselves that Macron is as bad as Le Pen.

On the other hand, the considerable abstention of the left, particularly hard-left core supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is already reflected in the polls, which this year show a smaller gap between Macron and Le Pen in the second round. According to a mega poll by Ipsos, half of Mélenchon voters will stay at home last week for Le Monde.

Other leftists are expected to switch back to Macron, including 29 percent Melenchonistes, 37 percent Communists and 65 percent Greens. The same is true of almost half of the remaining centre-right voters – and even some Zemmourists.

In the Ipsos Deep Dive poll, 50 percent of those polled said they would never vote for Le Pen. The corresponding value for Macron is 38.5 percent. Variable turnout skews such numbers, but it’s difficult to win a two-candidate runoff when half the electorate refuses to ever vote for you.

There is another important factor for Macron. Le Pen’s support focuses on the “low turnout” of the electorate: the young, the less educated, and the less affluent. Macron’s votes are focused on the sections of the population that vote the most.

While Le Pen has historically been good at mobilizing her constituents, she has failed to “get her vote out” in every election since April 2017. In every vote during this time, parliamentary, European, municipal and regional, she “underlined” the polls. . Parts of their base have never left their homes.

To win on April 24, she must top the polls. That election is going to be close — scary close for some. Nothing (yet) indicates that Le Pen could then trigger the greatest shock in modern French political history. Macron's scaremongering - POLITICO

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