France / Élections Présidentielles: #16
PARIS—The great debate is behind us and in the bright light of the next morning—just three left to go before French voters head to the polls to choose their next president—the winner, if only by default, would appear to be Emmanuel Macron. Without question, Marine Le Pen acquitted herself admirably—at least by comparison to her all but utter meltdown in the same contest five years ago.
Macron came fully prepared to defend his record of the past five years that Le Pen attacked from the opening moments of a nearly three-hour contest. But to narrow a gap that, going into the evening, ranged from 6% to 13% behind the incumbent, she needed to land some body blows. The first snap polls of viewers who turned out in vast numbers across France and commentators for many of France’s leading media suggest that she may well have come up short.
Here’s what France’s leading all-news network, BFM-TV found among the “telespectateurs” they polled immediately after the debate in the early minutes of Thursday morning:
First, the big number, who was most convincing to viewers:
Who demonstrated the qualities most necessary for a president:
Who seemed most likely to bring together the French people:
Who most truly wants to change things….Le Pen’s strongest suit. (But do most French truly want change?):
Who is the closest to my preoccupations, a surprisingly and for Le Pen unsettlingly close figure:
Most arrogant—clearly Le Pen’s long suit. But then, how often have the French elected a president who has not demonstrated some degree of arrogance?
Finally who was the most unsettling. And in the end it is this number that could be most likely to spell Le Pen’s undoing:
None of this is to suggest that Marine Le Pen has an impossible hill to climb between today and Sunday. A hidden wellspring of French frustration and bitterness that has failed to show up in poll numbers at times have failed to capture pockets of her support that could allow her a slim path victory—preventing Emmanuel Macron from becoming the first French president in a generation to win reelection to a second term. It could be a long night after the polls close at 8 pm on Sunday. Or we could know the answer when French television comes on the air with exit polls at 8:01.
Either way, we’ll be there to watch it all.
Vive la France!