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How have the rallies in recent weeks changed the composition of potential voters for both Emmanuel Macron and Benoît Hamon during the first round of the presidential election? Did the rallying of François Bayrou cause a proportion of his voters to “flee” from the left? In what ways have Benoît Hamon’s potential voters changed since the rallying of Yannick Jadot?

This analysis was conducted by the Research Centre for Public Opinion with Fondation Jean-Jaurès

Since mid-February the news, and in particular key publications, have arguably influenced voting intentions to swing in favour of Emmanuel Macron in various ways due to their consolidated position. The surprise alliance proposed by François Bayrou; the scandalous allegations François Fillon now faces, who remains in many ways Macron’s direct competitor should he wish to progress to the second round could face the prospect of an indictment which is likely to cause many of his supporters and particularly those who support the UDI to defect including those commonly referred to as “Juppéistes”; and a socialist candidate who persists in his attempts to unify the electorate to the left of the Socialist Party, even if this means diverting socialist sympathisers closest to the government line…

Looking beyond his progression to the second round – which is relatively certain from all surveys conducted on voting intentions – over the past three weeks, how have these events combined to change the composition of Emmanuel Macron’s potential electorate prior to the first round of the presidential election? Did the rallying of François Bayrou cause a proportion of his voters to “flee” from the left? In what socio-demographic categories have the “Forward!” campaign achieved their greatest progress?

To answer this question we aggregated the data from the Elabe surveys to produce two consolidated samples which would allow us to accurately assess possible developments in voter composition. When referring to our analysis, the data labelled “Before” is the percentage of 2,864 people registered as voters who were interviewed between 14 and 22 February 2017 and includes the assumption that François Bayrou and Yannick Jadot were both candidates. The data labelled “After” represents the percentage of 2,507 people registered as voters who were interviewed after the Bayrou / Macron and Hamon / Jadot alliances were formed between 28 February and 2 March and includes the assumption that Bayrou and Yannick Jadot are no longer candidates.

Emmanuel Macron is the only candidate who is making any significant progress with the voters

It is important to note that during this time Emmanuel Macron has continued to make significant progress: +4 points. He is also the only candidate who has risen significantly in the polls. The shift in voting intentions is primarily driven by the intermediate age groups (most notably in the 35-64 age category), and emanates from the middle and upper middle classes (middle-management, senior management and intellectual occupations as well as artisan-traders, etc.).

VOTER BASE: TOTAL NUMBER REGISTERED TO VOTE BEFORE AFTER Developments

Before / After

Nathalie ARTHAUD / Philippe POUTOU 2 % 1 % -1
Jean-Luc MÉLENCHON 10 % 11 % +1
Benoît HAMON 12% 12% =
Emmanuel MACRON 18 % 22 % +4
Yannick JADOT 1 %
François BAYROU 4 %
François FILLON 16 % 17 % +1
Nicolas DUPONT-AIGNAN 3 % 3 % =
Marine LE PEN 25 % 24 % -1
No opinion 9 % 10 % +1

Emmanuel Macron will undoubtedly benefit from the withdrawal of François Bayrou and the new alliance with the centrist leader: whilst previously support in 2012 for Macron was around 25% this has now increased to nearly half (47%). In addition Macron may be able to rely on nearly four in ten UDI supporters (37%): whilst their members may have “dropped” François Fillon a few days ago, it appears that UDI supporters are slightly more likely to vote for Emmanuel Macron than François Fillon (35%).

VOTES FOR EMMANUEL MACRON FROM THE MAJOR ELECTORATES IN 2012 (1ST ROUND) BEFORE AFTER Developments

Before / After

Jean-Luc MÉLENCHON 6 % 11 % +5
François HOLLANDE 34 % 41 % +7
François BAYROU 27 % 47 % +20
Nicolas SARKOZY 18 % 18 % =
Marine LE PEN 2 % 2 % -0.5

Note: Prior to the alliance with François Bayrou only 27% of voters in 2012 expressed a voting intention to support the centrist Emmanuel Macron this has now risen to 47%, an increase of 20 points.

Most importantly, Emmanuel Macron has not suffered from this alliance with the left: his poll rating has increased by nearly 2 points amongst left-wing sympathisers, and is even more marked amongst the key left electorates from 2012. Since then he has also gained 5 to 7 points from those who previously voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon and François Hollande (knowing that in 2012 he benefited from the not insignificant addition of those who had previously voted for François Bayrou in the 2007 presidential election). With more than 41% of François Hollande’s voters from 2012 considered to be supporters of his movement (more than 38% of his potential electorate during the last period), Emmanuel Macron is now, in fact, the principal “successor” to François Hollande in fundamental electoral terms.

Emmanuel Macron has made a breakthrough in terms of the middle classes

The alliance with Francois Bayrou has not upset the broad equilibrium in terms of the socio-demographic or professional profile of those who would potentially vote for Emmanuel Macron. It should be noted, however, that the middle and upper middle classes now account for almost four out of every ten potential voters (39%), up 6 points from the previous election period. The candidate has achieved great successes on the issues which distinguish the middle and upper classes: +10 points for those who are self-employed, +8 points for management and administrative professions.

admin professions

Note: Following formation of the alliance with François Bayrou Emmanuel Macron received 28% in the voting intention poll of the administrative professions; representing an increase of 8 points.

It should also be noted that Emmanuel Macron is now well positioned amongst pensioners, although admittedly François Fillon remains far ahead in this demographic which constitutes his electoral core base (the over 65 years represent more than half of all those who vote for François Fillon: Fillon achieves 53% whilst comparatively Macron only secures 23%).

Even if Marine Le Pen vastly outperforms all other candidates and secures more votes from employees and blue-collar workers (with 35% of the electorate intending to vote for her), Emmanuel Macron shall still manage to secure a substantial proportion of the vote (17%), which is significantly higher than all other competitors (13% for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 12% Benoît Hamon, 8% for François Fillon).

SURVEY OF WORKING CLASS VOTERS

(BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS AND EMPLOYEES)

BEFORE AFTER Developments

Before / After

Nathalie ARTHAUD / Philippe POUTOU 2 % 2 % =
Jean-Luc MÉLENCHON 12% 13 % +1
Benoît HAMON 12% 12% =
Emmanuel MACRON 15 % 17 % +2
Yannick JADOT 1 %
François BAYROU 3 %
François FILLON 8 % 8 % =
Nicolas DUPONT-AIGNAN 2 % 2 % =
Marine LE PEN 36 % 35 % -2
No opinion 9 % 11 % +2

 

Emmanuel Macron occupies a central position on the political spectrum

This alliance, on the other hand, enables Emmanuel Macron to consolidate his central position on the political spectrum as demonstrated by the analysis of the partisan orientation of his potential voters. More than 30% of them state that they in fact associate closely with the Left Front (LF), the Socialist Party (mainly) or ‘Europe Ecologie-Les Verts’ … yet at the same time 27% consider that they are better represented by a party in the centre or towards the right. Moreover, almost a quarter of their potential voters do not express any partisan preference at all. This in itself demonstrates their ability to attract a significant proportion of individuals who are no longer part of the party’s more conventional policies.

policies

Note: 46% of potential Benoît Hamon voters consider themselves to be supporters of the Socialist Party whilst only 26% of Emmanuel Macron’s voters consider the same to be true for them.
In light of recent figures Benoît Hamon may begin to question his strategy after having failed to agree terms on an alliance whilst attempting to connect with those who support Jean-Luc Mélenchon. If you consider the figures from the first round of the 2012 presidential election it is possible to determine that François Hollande’s electorate represents more than half of their potential electorate (53%), the Socialist Party candidate could receive 36% of the votes from all Socialist supporters and 30% (down slightly – by a point – in three weeks) of the votes from those who previously voted for Francois Hollande. The proportion of voters on the left of the Socialist Party who favour Hamon is just over 10% (down by one point in three weeks) and remains marginal at best. Despite their best efforts, it has proven impossible to shift the voting patterns in their favour; including reaching out to the supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and attempting to form an alliance with ‘Europe Ecologie-Les Verts’. Though at the same time it is worth noting that a growing number of François Hollande’s voters in 2012 turned to Emmanuel Macron; a shift from 34% to 41% in voting intentions – a gain of 7 points.

The data analysis highlights the various consequences which arose when the “Walk On!” candidate and his Socialist party rival utilised an enlargement led strategy for a three-week period:

  • On the one hand, Emmanuel Macron has successfully expanded his respective voter base to a point which allows him to secure a substantial share of the voter demographic (including pensioners) that were previously weak points which required further attention. Macron has successfully managed to conquer the voter base towards the left to the point where he is now perceived to be the principal home for voters who previously voted for François Hollande, despite the growing support for centrists from UDI (Union of Democrats and Independents) and MoDem (Democratic Movement) – proof that the two are not wholly incompatible.
  • On the other hand, Benoît Hamon has lost ground on the centre left whilst the socialists by supporting the government line failed to conquer ground to the left of the Socialist Party. At this stage, the strategic choice would appear to be to focus their attention on the supporters of ‘Europe Ecologie-Les Verts’ and those who follow Jean-Luc Mélenchon and accept the risk that this may cause them to break with the centre left and in effect risk losing twice.

 

Methodology: aggregated data was obtained from surveys conducted by Elabe over the Internet using representative samples of the French population aged 18 years and over. The representativeness of each sample was ensured by the quota methods applied to the following variables: sex, age and occupation of the respondent following stratification according to the region of residence and the urbanisation category.