Emmanuel Macron will face far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French election on April 24, with polls suggesting a much tighter final race than in 2017.
Here’s what the first-round results tell us so far.
Macron won the first round by a reasonable margin – but the second round predictions worry him
Macron and Le Pen secured their place in the second round with 27.8% and 23.2% of the vote respectively, according to the results of the Ministry of the Interior. The gap between them is slightly wider than in 2017, with Macron 4.6 percentage points ahead of Le Pen, down from 2.7.
But while in 2017 Macron beat Le Pen by 66% to 34% in the second round, two polls released after Sunday’s first round suggest the April 24 run-off will be very close. Macron is expected to win 52-54% of the vote, while Le Pen would get 46-48%.
Meanwhile, far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had hoped to make a surprise entry in the second round, came third with 22% in the first round. Far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, who at one point overtook Le Pen, only got 7.1%. Conservative candidate Valérie Pécresse, once seen as the woman who could topple Macron, managed a meager 4.8%.
The result of the second round will depend on the capacity of each candidate to convince the voters who did not support him in the first round. Polls after Sunday’s vote suggest that Macron will mainly benefit from the support of voters Pécresse, Mélenchon and Yannick Jadot.
But a large portion of Mélenchon’s voters plan to stay home on election day or plan to support Le Pen at the far end of the political spectrum – two scenarios that could prove problematic for Macron. Le Pen is also expected to win the votes of far-right candidate Zemmour and Pécresse on the right.
The center holds – but candidates on the far right of the political spectrum have also increased their vote share since 2017
Much has been written about the decline of the French left, but the results show that the centre-left was already weak at the start of this election and that over the past five years it has been the centre-right candidates who have lost the most votes. The Republican candidate Pécresse obtained less than 5% of the vote in the first round this year, while in 2017, François Fillon of the same party won 20% of the vote in the first round. The main beneficiaries this year have been the favourites: far-right and center candidates Le Pen and Macron.
Macron and Le Pen have both improved their share of voice in large parts of France
Geographically, the first round of the 2022 elections reinforces the patterns seen in the first round five years ago. Looking only at the vote distributed among the top five candidates from each department in the first two rounds, we see that Macron has improved his position in the departments of the northern half of France and in particular in the Pays de la Loire region. , which is home to the sixth largest in France. the largest city of Nantes, while still struggling in the south.
For Le Pen, the reverse pattern is true, with his vote shares improving the most in central France towards the south. One of its fastest growing regions is New Aquitaine in the south where yellow vests (yellow vests) the movement was strong.
Macron and Le Pen’s core voters haven’t changed much since the first round in 2017
Focusing on the rising cost of living, particularly fuel prices, appears to have helped Le Pen increase his vote share in areas where a high proportion of people depend on their car to get to work. However, it failed to significantly broaden its voter base across working population, income groups, or education levels.
Education remains an important predictor. The higher the proportion of people with a master’s degree in a field, the less likely it is that Le Pen will be the most popular candidate.
The same pattern is clear when comparing the top 500 municipalities where Le Pen and Macron have the highest vote shares. Le Pen voters are much more likely to have no education beyond the age of 15. The majority of his strongholds also had an above-average unemployment rate in 2018 (the latest data available at the commune level), while the core of Macron’s voters were generally in areas with medium or low unemployment rates. unemployment.
This first look at the data suggests that Macron will need to do more to convince people in poor rural areas with low education and high unemployment that he is their president too. Meanwhile, Le Pen’s biggest challenge will be to broaden his appeal to highly educated and wealthy people living in cities, who have been less affected by rising fuel prices and the broader cost of living crisis. .
Both will also have to seek to win over another part of the electorate: those who would be tempted to abstain in the second round either out of frustration with the replay of 2017 or to send a message. Abstention was 25% this time against 22% in 2017.
Additional data and graphics work by Joanna S Kao, Ændra Rininsland, Martin Stabe and Justine Williams