Presidential 2022: six months before the election, should we believe the polls?

The story repeats itself. Six months before the first round of the presidential election, the polls give pride of place to candidates surprised, or even not yet declared. This Wednesday, a Harris Interactive poll for Challenges Qualifies for the first time Eric Zemmour for a hypothetical second-round duel with Emmanuel Macron. The polemicist would be likely to obtain 17% of the votes in the first round, ahead of Marine Le Pen (15%) in the event of a candidacy of Xavier Bertrand on the right (13%).

Monday, an Ifop poll for LCI and Le Figaro credited Eric Zemmour with 12 to 15% of the vote, even if he kept him in third position behind Marine Le Pen (18 to 21%) and Emmanuel Macron (24 to 27%).

But six months before the presidential election, experience shows that these surveys must be viewed with caution. First of all because the political offer is far from being stopped and all the candidates known. Also, the hiccups have already occurred in the past. In October 2001, the sovereignist candidate Jean-Pierre Chevènement, credited with up to 12% of voting intentions in the polls, was for a time presented as one that could upset the forecasts, before finishing at 5.3%.

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In October 1994, the two stars of the polls were Jacques Delors and Edouard Balladur (29 and 28%), very far from the third man Jacques Chirac (14%), who was finally elected ahead of Lionel Jospin.

Alain Juppé big favorite in the polls six months before the 2017 presidential election

Six months away from the 2017 presidential election, a Kantar Sofres survey carried out from October 21 to 23, 2016, places Marine Le Pen and Alain Juppé at the top of the voting intentions in the first round, with 28%, while the latter is only a candidate for the primary of the right and the center (of which he will come out the loser). In this configuration, Emmanuel Macron is only 14%. In a scenario where Nicolas Sarkozy would be the candidate for the right and the center, he won 20% of the vote, Marine Le Pen 26% and Emmanuel Macron 15%. François Fillon, who will ultimately be the LR candidate, is not even tested.

A BVA survey published on October 21, 2016 Alain Juppé also placed well ahead of the voting intentions in the first round (33%) ahead of Marine Le Pen (26%). Emmanuel Macron was only fourth (11%), behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon (12%). Ditto, this polling institute had only tested the former mayor of Bordeaux and the former President of the Republic, but not the former deputy for Sarthe.

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In these two surveys, the leader of La France insoumise only collected between 12 and 13.5% of the votes, while his score was 19.58% on April 23, 2017 on the evening of the first round. As a reminder, that of François Fillon was 20.01%, Marine Le Pen 21.3% and Emmanuel Macron 24.01%.

“We measure fragile things”

“Be careful, six months before the presidential election, the offer is not yet stabilized, especially on the right, voters are still not very interested, so we measure fragile things”, told AFP Anne Jadot, specialist in electoral studies at the University of Lorraine. The political scientist also points out the possibilities “perverse effects” precautions now taken by pollsters who, like Ipsos, only take into account the voting intentions of people certain of going to vote, because this creates a “filtered” for voters away from politics but who may end up moving next April.

“The excitement of commentators on current polls is unreasonable. Data at a time T is one thing, its correct interpretation is another. It requires reflection and political culture.”, also warned on Twitter the former boss of Ifop and Medef Laurence Parisot.

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For Anne Jadot, whatever the questions about Zemmour’s level, the main lesson from the latest surveys is in any case that “the 2022 election is much more uncertain than it was said a few months ago, with a lower threshold for access to the second round than in 2017, where it had already been played out between Marine Le Pen, François Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon “.

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