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French Presidential election: new "Political Barometer" data

by desmoulins Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 08:29:32 AM EST

The "Political barometer" survey conducted by Sciences Po just released their latest "wave" of data and, as this Le  Monde story tells it, there's a lot of data for those of us who have been discussing the campaign to chew on.

The most striking finding is that 4.9% of those polled said they were on the left but planning to vote for Sarkozy. And almost all of them (97%) said Sarkozy had a greater "desire to change" things; and 80% said he better understood people like them. 55% said they expect things to improve if their candidate wins the election.  These voters are overwhelmingly lower-income, less well educated and follow politics less closely. Only 13% of these voters consider Royal to be their second choice. And here's the kicker -- women are over-represented in this group.

Another 1.5% of voters who identify with the left and show many of the same sociological characteristics and beliefs plan to vote for LePen (except these voters overwhelmingly do not expect the election to have an impact.)

Then there's a very different group -- what the survey calls "Gaucho-Bayrouistes," which amount to another 4% of the electorate; these are largely well-educated, better off and say they do follow politics closely (which is bizarre, since Bayrou has put out much less of a program then either Royal or Sarkozy!). Only 40% of those (thus, 1% of the electorate) says that Royal is their second choice.

And on the other side, less than 1.5% of the respondans said they were on the "right" but plan to vote for Royal.

So if this data is to be believed, thats pretty clearly whats going on : 10% of the country that feels its values are those of "the left" aren't planning to vote for Royal in the first round (and indeed a majority don't even consider her to be their second choice).

And they come from three very different positions, sociologically and ideologically, so it won't be easy for her to make a dent.

The most striking finding is that 4.9% of those polled said they were on the left but planning to vote for Sarkozy. And almost all of them (97%) said Sarkozy had a greater "desire to change" things; and 80% said he better understood people like them.

Those are Le Pen voters in disguise.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 08:58:37 AM EST
Nobody genuinely on the left would vote Sarkozy.
by paving on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 02:39:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but it does no good to simply say, "well those people aren't really for the left." Because by that standard, those who are "truly" on the left aren't anywhere near 50%, which is in the end the sole purpose of the exercise.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 02:48:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See afew's comment below. Maybe nobody on the left, but possibly people in the left's constituency.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 04:46:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It'll be interesting to see the full data when the CEVIPOF (the Sciences Po politics watch institute) publishes the survey, because it's surely solider work than the opinion polls.

Meanwhile: the well-heeled professional-class left-voters who say they are going over to Bayrou were already pretty much known. See this article in Libé, or this article in Le Monde for example.

As for less well-heeled people saying they are on the left but will vote Sarkozy, frankly, I think you can find this kind of cognitive dissonance in every election in any country. It is true, however, that the left - especially the PCF - has gradually lost voters to the Front National over the last twenty years. There's no longer the belief in a left (particularly Communist) that is going to turn the world arse over tit and bring justice, one of these days. The next simple doctrine to believe in is we need to throw the foreigners out.

I'm trying not to sound too sanguine about this. Things certainly do look difficult for the left and Royal. They always were, though - it's (I think) fairly well-attested that a woman candidate can't count on much support from women, for example (without necessarily gaining counter-balancing votes from men...). It's also fairly constant that the left is in the minority in France. It's an uphill battle. But there are six weeks to go and there were great changes in the last six weeks in 2002 and 1995.

I'm not thinking of a deus ex machina, but the Canard Enchaîné, which I haven't seen yet, has a new instalment on Sarko's sleaze with the real estate promoter in Neuilly. Libé has it up as top story now. Seems that Sarko (as mayor) gave the promoter a sweet deal on some land, then got one in return when he bought an apartment.

The problem with this kind of thing is that Sarko will end up being seen as a victim of leftwing journalism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 03:46:16 PM EST
there is an interesting article in Le Monde which seems to contradict you on the size of the left in France (inclusive the PCF et al) :

Présidentielle : la défiance au coeur du vote (Presidential elections : mistrust as the core of the vote)

it states according to the BPF that 61% of the French mistrust BOTH the left and the right and that it is a structural change. 17% trust the left, 21% trust the right.

regarding the "apartments affairs" (both Ségolène and Sarko) it seems that a majority (note of internet users) think that it isn't such a big deal even if they consider it in itself as "serious".


It seems that people in general expect the elite to cheat both to the right and the left, and since they can't do anything about that, other questions have priority.

And Bayrou's triumphant trip to St Denis should scare the PS to death... probably one of the reasons is that he is seen as Mr Clean, like Jimmy Carter was. I am amazed every day by the pro-Bayrou support in my neighbourhood coming from people on RMI or unemployed. Those guys would never vote Sarko, but Sego doesn't convince them, no matter how many promised billions...

she is not credible, they say, she belongs to the elite, Bayrou is a least a farmer and talks like normal people...

and when Azouz Begag, goes over to Bayrou... the "beur" vote is going to be influenced..

by oldfrog on Tue Mar 13th, 2007 at 04:38:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what I said about the size of the left? That the left was in the minority in France? That some of the drift towards different right-wing movements/candidates (as seen in desmoulins' diary) was not something new, it had already been pointed out? That it was an uphill battle for the left? Did I claim anything else?

As for the article, it is by a pollster, Jérôme Jaffré - who, like all pollster/pundits, wants to have new and astounding analysis on sale. He may be basing this on the CEVIPOF survey, (which is only available for cherry-picking by "analysts"), but what are we supposed to make of this : he says there's a group (identified by the tag hors-système, outside-system, and we don't know if he invented that tag or not) that say they want neither right nor left, but who strongly support Nicolas Sarkozy ("very high percentage"). Does it reveal anything of importance or use about French politics, making out there is a coherent group of "neither-right-not-leftists", who are obviously on their face incoherent?

Also, a trend that has been seen for one year becomes "structural". That's quick structure-building. I suspect Jaffré has to say this, because, like all pollster/pundits, he prefers surveys to actual elections. He points out that the first-past-the-post electoral system encourages a bi-polar political system (le scrutin majoritaire qui favorise la bipolarisation). He omits to discuss the last elections held in France, the regional, local, and European, in 2004. Of those three only the local (election of one-third of "departmental" councillors) was first-past-the post, the other two - more important - were proportional representation.

With PR, you'd expect the meltdown picture Jaffré paints to show through in a varied and broad spectrum of votes. In fact, the regional elections showed a very solid position of the left:

Liste de gauche             12 896 820      49,91%     
Liste divers gauche           111 720       0,43%     
Liste régionaliste             99 512       0,39%     
Liste de droite              9 519 416      36,84%     
Liste divers droite             11 094       0,04%     
Liste du Front national      3 199 392      12,38%

The Interior Ministry is responsible for grouping the results left/right (with the FN apart), but that mirrors reality - councillors divide along those lines in the regional councils. Strange that all those disenchanted voters gave the left a push that led it to take over all the regional councils but one.

The European elections are even more open, in the sense that party positions are less entrenched. Yet these elections resulted in:

PSE 33  
PPE 28
Greens 6, assorted far right 12 (inc. 7 FN)

Where's the centre? (Bayrou sat with the PPE when he was MEP, in other words with the right...)

I'm not denying that there is an overall tendency towards disillusionment with the left. Nor am I denying that Royal is not, for the moment (and may never) making much progress on that score. I am saying that Bayrou is an illusionist when he pretends to be both left and right. He may get to the Elysée that way, I don't know. But the election is far from over, and I am getting tired of pollsters and survey analysts who are mostly interested in taking centre stage and promoting their guru careers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 14th, 2007 at 05:56:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While we're looking at Le Monde articles, this one is interesting. It describes worries on the extreme right - FN to be precise - that some of its electorate will choose the vote utile for Bayrou in the first round, to make sure the right wins but not Sarko.

(Hardcore political frontists find Sarko soft on Muslims, and in any case hate anyone associated with Chirac and Gaullism... historical rancour going back to Vichy... it does not apply to the UDF and the Giscard tradition, which always had bridges with the Xtreme right...)

I think everyone should vote Bayrou in the first round. You know, he's the one who's going up in the polls... ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 14th, 2007 at 10:25:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...the Giscard tradition, which always had bridges with the Xtreme right...

This is always something that has baffled me -- the presence of folks like Longuet or even more so de Villiers in the old UDF. Villiers, IIRC, ran Barre's campaign in 88.

So I've always wondered, was it the old PRI (with its wierd alliance of libertarianism, Coriscan mob, and 68-vintage street fighters) that had ties to the far right (by which I mean not today's watered-down FN but the hard-core Tixier and OAS folks) or did the UDF include new right nationalists as part of the "anti-Delmas" cum "anti-Chirac" rationale that was what brought the UDF together in the first place.

Anyway, I do think in his defense (and I could be wrong) that Bayrou and the old Christian Democrat tradition from which he came, has pretty clean hands with respect to the Front (as opposed to the rest of the right which at various times has sought alliances with LePen...)

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Wed Mar 14th, 2007 at 06:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I totally agree that Bayrou is not part of the links-with-the-far-right tradition. The article I pointed to spoke of the FN worrying about losing votes to Bayrou, not Bayrou courting FN voters.

Afaik, of the different strands of the UDF, neither the Christian Dems nor the Radicals (Valoisiens) had ties to the extreme right. These were to be found more among the CNIP (Centre National des Indépendents et Paysans), then the Républicains Indépendents, which operated as a way into "respectable" politics for 1960s fascist street-fighters like the co-founders of Occident, Alain Madelin, Gérard Longuet, Claude Goasguen, Patrick Devedjian. These have now joined the UMP, and are Sarko supporters. I don't know for sure, but I imagine they're seen as opportunists by those who stayed out on the fringe and built the FN.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 15th, 2007 at 03:55:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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