Thursday, May 24, 2007

Response to a reader: the Vital Center

Gregory takes me to task for neglecting what he regards as

"a more marked development, with the potential for a more enduring impact, is the continuation of a trend that began at least in 1995, of urban, professional middle-class voters who are not civil servants, voting for the left (especially if one inclues first-round Bayrou, second-round Royal voters)."
I agree that this is a key and volatile segment of the electorate, which the PS must figure out how to target. My impression, however, is that, while Sarkozy alienated some of this group, particularly with his "coded" appeals to the extreme-right electorate, he attracted others with the logic of his economic program, which, for all its flaws, nevertheless struck many as a more coherent package than the opposition's. Perhaps as a rough proxy for "urban, professional middle-class voters who are not civil servants," we can take economists, many of whom publicly expressed themselves before the elections. Compare, for example, the endorsement of Sarkozy by Olivier Blanchard with the denunciation of him by Thomas Piketty and others:

http://www.telos-eu.com/2007/03/pourquoi_je_voterai_sarkozy.php
http://www.lesechos.fr/info/analyses/4559836.htm
http://abonnes.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-823448,36-891778,0.html

Perhaps we can agree that the large Bayrou vote on the first round came at least in part from urban professionals disaffected from both Sarkozy and Royal. Much of what Sarkozy has done since his election will likely have reassured this group that he isn't as dangerous as they had feared. If the Socialists are not to lose further ground in this segment of the electorate, their "renovation" must speak to people of this sort.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Much of what Sarkozy has done since his election will likely have reassured this group that he isn't as dangerous as they had feared. If the Socialists are not to lose further ground in this segment of the electorate, their "renovation" must speak to people of this sort.

This is an interesting statement. "If the Socialists are not to lose further ground..." except that my point was that the PS gained ground among urban, middle-class professional voters, winning majorities on May 6 in urban circumscriptions that have UMP deputies.

As for whether or not the appointment of Kouchner will win these voter back, that remains to be seen, doesn't it? There's no basis other than your own enthusiasm for concluding that "what Sarkozy has done since the election" has won over anyone yet. Indeed, as I pointed out, there has been much written that the PS may consolidate those gains in June, especially in Paris and possibly Bordeaux.

Finally, if you want to use economists to show that Sarkozy has won over centrist voters, you missed your best chance by not invoking Bresson. (And [apologies in advance for induldging myself inappropriately now] there rumours about his wife, too, you know...)