Monday, March 26, 2007

A clear and absent danger?

On the day when Nicolas Sarkozy steps down as Interior Minister in order to pursue his election campaign full time, he is likely much less worried than several weeks ago, when UDF candidate Francois Bayrou appeared ready to defeat Segolene Royal in the first round, and then demolish him in the second.

Yet while still present, the threat of Bayrou has noticeably receded. In fact, Sarkozy is likely now turning his sights once again on his socialist challenger, as a new LH2 poll shows them equal in the first round, and seperated by a mere 2% point margin in the second. Although Bayrou is much higher than his original 8% last fall, he is only hovering around 20%, more than the margin of error away from Royal. And if in mid-April he has still not caught Royal, it is probable that his support will further dwindle.

That being said, there is still a month to go in this campaign. Segolene Royal has shown her first signs of steady advancement against Sarkozy, unlike several times before when she would quickly bounce up and then fall down again. If this sustains it will be much harder for Bayrou to gain traction, but being the center candidate, he could also gain votes from Sarkozy if he were to stumble. He is certainly not down and out, but Bayrou will have to learn that it's the turtle, not the rabbit, who wins elections.

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