A new poll, published in Le Monde, shows Nicolas Sarkozy and SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal in a dead heat in a potential runoff. This is the first poll in some time not to show Sarkozy in front; he led by eight percentage points in the head-to-head polls just over a month ago (by a different pollster).
The first round is 22 April, with Sarkozy and Royal each at just over a quarter of the vote in that round. The third candidate, FranÃ§ois “Condorcet” Bayrou, has now fallen well behind Sarkozy and Royal, making a runoff match between those two now almost certain. Jean Marie Le Pen is at 16%, and could even surpass Bayrou for third place, though a runoff place for him, as occurred in 2002, continues to look very unlikely. As I noted earlier in the week, Le Pen’s second place finish that year had much more to do with fragmentation on the left than with the increase in Le Pen’s support (just under 17% in 2002, compared to around 15% in the previous election).