As the second day of the official campaign begins, polls continue to be utterly resistant to change. But with roughly 40% undecided, there are still plenty of votes to get. And for Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, this may be the year of the Blue Collar worker.
Industrial employees represent an estimated 25 percent of the electorate, making them France's biggest voting bloc. Their backing would increase Royal's chance of getting through the April 22 first-round balloting to reach the May 6 runoff against front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy by fending off self-styled centrist Francois Bayrou, 55, and five-time candidate Le Pen, 78, of the anti-immigration National Front party.
"Blue-collar workers are crucial for Royal,'' said Gerard Grunberg, head of research at the Institute for Political Studies in Paris. "Middle-class voters are attracted by Bayrou, and if many workers choose Le Pen again, she is left without much support. So she revamped Socialist rhetoric to tell workers that her party will fight for them.''
Interestingly, the indecision among factory workers is slightly higher than average, although Royal is still leading slightly among those who have made up their minds.
Almost half of industrial workers say they haven't decided among the candidates yet, according to a March 16-23 Ifop poll. Of those who did have an opinion, 26 percent would vote for Royal in the first round, 22 percent would support Sarkozy and 19 percent would back Le Pen, based on an analysis of the data for Bloomberg News by the Paris polling company.
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