Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poll Puzzles

Polling in a variety of presidential scenarios is reported this morning. You can read the results yourself, because poll blogging bores me. Definitely the degree zero of the genre. There is one paragraph in the story that puzzles me, however:

Dans un hypothétique duel face à DSK, notons que la présidente du FN ferait un score presque comparable : 25 %. Elle obtiendrait 28 % face à Hollande, 31 % contre Aubry. Nicolas Sarkozy, lui, est donné battu dans les duels face un candidat PS : avec un score différent suivant qu'il fait face à DSK (39 %), Hollande (44 %), Aubry (45 %) ou Royal (49 %).

In other words, the candidate of the extreme right does worst against the most centrist of the potential PS candidates (DSK), and the farther left the opponent, the greater the shift of votes to the extreme right (thanks to Tex for correcting a previous misstatement of mine). This suggests that whichever segment of the electorate is being picked up here, it is responding to something other than perceived political position on a left-right spectrum. What might that be? Machismo (the two Socialist women do worst against Marine Le Pen)? Name recognition? Supposed competence? Your guess is as good as mine.


David said...

The same phenomenon existed in the U.S. in 1980, when polls showed some Reagan voters listing Kennedy as second choice, and vice versa. The explanation seemed to be that some votes are based on perceived style and image, instead of what the person says they would do in office. Hey, my aunt claimed she voted for Dewey because he had a moustache. We think she was kidding, but who knows.

Anonymous said...

I must be missing something - why wouldn't a potential right-wing voter behave this way? That is, she'd vote for a centrist PS candidate over the extreme right candidate, but as the PS candidate moves to the left, he/she becomes less appealing and the voter chooses the extreme right instead.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 here.

Agree with anonymous above.
Perfectly believable. Recently read some article about the political temperature among right leaning small business men and/or aged "notables" in the province -aka Sorkazy voters in 2007- . They were asked about an hypothetical FN/PS second round. One was cited: "never socialist - definitely LE Pen".

Actually already proved true by a big slice of Italian voters since over ten years: identity trumps reason. Better a maverick -Ahem- Berlusconi than a competent mild centrist Prodi, because, you know: "communista!"

FrédéricLN said...

As a matter of fact, all of these 4 PS would-be-candidates are labelled (very) "centrist".

DSK as a former "Rocardien" and IMF Managing Director; Royal and Hollande as the pillars of the "Club Témoin" (the Delors-oriented micro-branch of the PS in the 90's http://www.lexpress.fr/informations/les-12-apotres-de-jacques-delors_600169.html ); Martine Aubry as Delors' daughter, as a Socialist with a career in business (Pechiney) and definitely a reasonable person (remember the "retirement at 60" affair), despite "les 35 heures".

They nevertheless appeal very differently to "les classes populaires" - Royal is still iconic among them, according to his supporter Jean-Louis Bianco - and to "la bonne société" - that considers DSK, according to sociologists Pinçon-Charlot, but just does not see any sense in Royal's moves.

More than that? No, my guess isn't as good as yours. As a matter of fact, I never hear of them four among people on Main Street. Sarkozy, Le Pen, Besancenot are popular figures. The PS candidate will be one once designated.