polling update 11/4
Professional provocateur Éric Zemmour solidifies his lead over the rest of the field on the right.
The latest polls are in.
Macron remains in first place in the first round (at 23% to 24%) while Éric Zemmour has solidified his lead over Marine Le Pen on the far right: 17% to 18% for the polemist, 15% to 16% for Le Pen fille.
Per the poll, Zemmour reaches the second round irrespective of who will be the mainstream right-wing candidate (Xavier Bertrand, Valérie Pécresse, Michel Barnier.) On paper, the addition of Left votes could be enough to catapult a single, unity Left candidate in the second round. It won't happen because at this point the components of the Left, and the voters they represent, have drifted too far apart from each other (see previous post on Anne Hidalgo.)
Harris gives a nifty tracking of its polling since last January:
What you see happening here is Zemmour starting to eat into Le Pen the moment he began to make waves in early September.
Dupont-Aignan, a former member of Les Républicains, is crushed. He is a softer, more bourgeois Le Pen. In 2017 he came in 6th with a not insignificant 4.70% of the votes. He then allied himself with Le Pen in the second round, even signing a government pact where he’d have become Marine’s Prime Minister. It makes sense that Zemmour’s candidacy would nullify Dupont-Aignan’s. They go after the same upper class Christian reactionary voters, and Dupont-Aignan is drowned out by Zemmour’s agitation.
The only interpretation I can come up with is that there is an enormous pent-up anger in the country, a result of the COVID pandemic but also a carry-over from the pre-COVID Gilets Jaunes movement.
Nothing has been resolved, and how could it have been? France is still divided between urban centers and exurban peripheries, between those who do well in the globalized economy and those who merely survive, between those who can avail themselves of the opportunities of city life and those for whom these opportunities are foreclosed.
Despite the government’s massive support, the pandemic exacerbated poverty and inequalities (see this spread from INSEE, France’s statistics research agency.) And now gas prices are rising through the roof, further penalizing the people in the exurbs who must rely on their car. The pandemic tabled the reckoning for later. And later is now.
It's notable that Le Pen used to have an electoral lock on anger. Le Pen was the “anti-system” candidate. Zemmour is tapping into the main vein of resentment, fear and anomy that courses under the surface. His outrageous stunts and his violent discourse make him even more “anti-system” than Le Pen. It helps to be a TV personality rather than a politician with a party to run, that is, a normal member of the “system,” however angry.
According to the Harris poll, Macron beats Zemmour in the runoff 57% to 43% (compare this to his 66/34 spread against Le Pen in 2017.) That’s the unmistakable sign of enormous anger, even despair.
In the crosstabs Zemmour polls lowest with women (the guy did write a manifesto to misogyny after all!) He performs best with the 50-64 year olds, those just old enough to remember their blessed childhood in the 60s and early 70s, and reaching the age when you realize that this is all that there is and it wasn’t what you had hoped for.
This is not propitious, to say the least, and Macron has his work cut out for him. How will he mend the rifts in French society? Can he even begin to do that in the short five years of his second term?
À la prochaine ! — M.