Tuesday, April 3, 2007

When will they decide?

To an uninformed observer, the French election seems locked in place. First round polls have not shown much change since Francois Bayrou's rise and stagnation, and all candidates seem to be wobbling around a narrow several point radius. In the runoff, polls have forecast virtually the same thing for months: Nicolas Sarkozy will beat Segolene Royal, although the margin of victory may be anywhere from 2% to 10%.

Yet one pesky number refuses to budge. With just 19 days to go, roughly 40% of the French electorate is still undecided, or at least willing to change their vote. What can they be waiting for? There is almost no chance of any candidate debates, and with the stakes so high, it is unlikely that anyone will make any irreversible mistakes in the following days. Of all the major candidates, Bayrou's support continues to be the weakest, with only 47% of his voters saying that they will not change their minds. It will be interesting to see when this fluidity finally solidifies, if ever. Either voters are too overwhelmed with their choices, or, perhaps more depressingly, too underwhelmed.

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