Saturday, March 17, 2012
The Rise of Mélenchon
Take a look at the poll comparator and focus on Jean-Luc Mélenchon's recent performance. He's up sharply in all the polls in recent weeks and is now approaching the 11% level. All the papers are repeating the story of Sarkozy's droitisation of his campaign and its success in taking votes from Marine Le Pen. But the real story of Sarko's convergence with Hollande, now confirmed by 3 polls, is that Mélenchon has been taking votes from Hollande. No one would have given him a chance to get 11% a couple of months ago, but there he is, a result of both his own dogged campaigning around the country and Hollande's dispiriting caution. For the second round, it doesn't matter. All, or nearly all, of Mélenchon's votes will go to Hollande by default, although there may be a substantial abstention. But it's a symptom of the listlessness of Hollande's campaign that Mélenchon is evidently peeling off voters who once thought they would go for the Socialist. This isn't a vote of adhesion to the extreme left; it's a protest vote against the Socialists, who aren't meeting the expectations of their rank and file. No surprise there. They haven't been meeting the expectations of the rank and file for decades. But it doesn't bode well for the future in case of a Socialist victory, and centrist voters may be paying attention. The last thing cautious middle-of-the-road types want is a Socialist who doesn't inspire respect in his own camp.