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Royal seems to be running outside of Paris. Probably the Socialists have discovered that they lose in 2002 because they didn't capture much of the non-Paris vote. The Democrats in the US won in 2006 largely by recognizing their failure in certain regions and pursuing the vote in those areas, with tremendous success. If the polls are capturing Paris/Urban centric voters and undercounting the suburbs and the rural/provincial areas you may be missing a huge chunk of Royal's base support. If the idea that Le Pen thrived on rural votes in '02 is accurate than this may hold water.
These are my theories:
-Jospins' underperformance in 02 was in part due to a high rate of abstention in Paris, esp among professionals , since the election was held the weekend of a school vacation (and absentee balloting is very difficult). So its not as if Jospin lost because he didn't do was well in "the rurals." And Paris is not comparable to say New York; its by no means overwhelmingly PS. Paris has strongholds for the left and the left has gained there tremendously in the last 10-15 years but the UMP and the FN both get a lot of votes in Paris and environs.
-its inaccurate to equate "the provinces" with "rural" and even more inaccurate to equate FN support with "rural" voters. Very little support for the FN in "petites communes" in fact. Political allegiance of these towns varies greatly from region to region, but almost nowhere do small towns support the FN.
-its pretty clear that Bayrou is drawing from both "right" and "left" voters but his recent surge has come a lot from center-left voters (teachers, educated professionals) and a lot from what you're calling "rural" voters.
-Royal's "base" is by no means solid, if by "base" you mean industrial working-class voters, the traditional socialist base, who more or less have abandoned the PS since the 80s, esp after the 35 hours legilsation. The FN has been pushing hard for these voters (Le Pen's "convention" in Lille sounded like a Communist rally) as has Sarkozy ("the value of work...")
-Moreover, other traditional PS constituencies -- civil servants and esp teachers -- for instance seem to be moving to Bayrou. There's actually very little natural "base" for the PS which is the problem
-Sarkozy's "base" is by no means eroding to Bayrou. Sarkoyz's "base" of support is pretty solid, which is why Sarkozy's people keep saying Bayrou is Royal's problem. They're right on that count but what they worry about is that he might finish ahead of her and be able to run as a "rassambleur," unifying left and center.
My point is only that this isn't Kerry all over again. Its something else entirely.
Its one reason that Sarkozy is being so explicit about it; he thinks he can pick up single-issue anti-immigrant voters.
The FN's electorate in 02 was a real cross-section and continues to be.
Check out the latest poll via LeMonde, but carried out for LeFig. Sarko loses 4 points - he's now at 27, Royal at 25.5, Bayrou at 23.
Also consider - who is a more natural candidate for the Gaullist traditionalists around Chirac and DeVillepin? Are they all going to come out for Sarko? Even in public? (to say nothing of the voting booth). Can you honestly say that Chirac et al would pull the lever for Sarko? I don't think we can make that assumption.
Anyway, here are the numbers from a poll conducted on June 14-15 2006:
Diriez-vous de Nicolas Sarkozy qu'il vous rassure ou qu'il vous inquiète ?
Il vous rassure: 36%
Il vous inquiete: 55%
Sans Opinion: 9%
Et diriez-vous de Nicolas Sarkozy qu'il est séduisant ou qu'il n'est pas séduisant ?
Il est seduissant: 39%
Il n'est pas seduisant: 61%
IMO, those are bad numbers. They don't matter that much for those who are committed believers in his policies. But, as a political consultant, I see numbers like that and I get worried. They'll kill you with swing voters who don't necessarily share your policy/ideological cast and who are more influenced by the individual as a person.
Its one of the reasons, retrospectively, it was obvious John Kerry was going to lose in '04 by late August/early September. His "personals" were negative, even if Bush did not have strong performance marks either. The key was that the alternative was made to look unacceptable to the American voters.
As an outsider, having seen polls like this about Sarkozy, I've always felt he was vulnerable to an alternative the FRench voting public found "credible."
Look, I hope you're right, but when I compare him on tv to Royal, and when I read about or talk to people about the election, I fear the worst.
I think Bayrou is a real problem for Sarko, however.
See the speech that started this thread as well. He has veered sharply right - towards the nasty kind.
In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
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