Yet another poll has DSK with an astounding 31% in the first round and Marine Le Pen by a nose over Sarko, 19-18. Now, OK, before you all start hurling brickbats about the inanity and meaningless of polls so far in advance of the elections, yadda yadda, let me be the first to say, as my comrades and I used to say in Vietnam after suffering the latest indignity at the hands of the brass, "Don't mean nothin'." But that initial reaction is also somewhat excessive: in fact, it do mean somethin'. And in this case, I think what it means is that voters on the Left, stunned by the results of earlier polling showing Le Pen in the lead, have decided for the moment to rally around the man who looks to be their strongest standard bearer, like him or not.
Now, note that I say, "For the time being." This temporary unity may not survive during a campaign that reveals more of DSK's positions on the issues--assuming he decides to run, which remains a question mark. But it is, if I am interpreting the result correctly, an interesting sign that there are limits to the Le Pen surge: the stronger she gets, the more sober the Left becomes, and the less likely the velleities of protest are to disrupt the broad gauge of sentiment that a presidential election is supposed to be.
Now, the relatively poor showing of Aubry and Hollande, more or less ex aequo with Le Pen, might be taken to indicate that this shift in left-wing sentiment is relatively fragile. I read it differently: to me it says that the sampled voters want to signal with their response their choice as the strongest candidate of the united left. So they votent utile with DSK but continue to indicate other allegiances when other candidates are in the mix. If DSK were out and Hollande or Aubry were the actual candidate, they might benefit from the same "left unity" sentiment that now boosts DSK. Royal, who loses to both MLP and Sarko in this poll, seems to have been written off, however.
That said, it's just one poll, it's March 2011, and "it don't mean nothin'." Or maybe it do.