We thought we had seen la droitisation dure of Sarkozy's campaign, but the results suggest that he will have to veer even further to the extreme right if he hopes to win. He must win over Le Pen's voters, and clearly they're not going to be easy to get. The large underestimation of the Le Pen vote by the polls suggests that Hollande's lead in round 2 is not as comfortable as it might appear. And the Mélenchon phenomenon seems to have been significantly overestimated: his total is less than the sum of the votes of the extreme left parties he decimated.
As much as I dislike Mélenchon, I had hoped that his supporters would provide Hollande with a comfortable reserve. At 15, this would have been the case; at 11, it isn't. And the Le Pen vote is obviously very difficult to interpret. The pollsters all underestimated, as usual. We therefore can't trust their estimates of the likely report des voix. If I were Hollande, I would be pleased to have come in first but very, very worried about the next two weeks and about what tactics Sarkozy might now employ in the debate. Immigration will obviously be THE hot-button issue, despite France's low actual immigration rate.
As for the Mélenchonistes who have enjoyed the disarray of us "social liberals," I can only say that populist passions, as we see, can blow from the right as well as the left.