In English-speaking countries, the vote of older voters has allowed right-wing populists to rise to the top of the political scene. But in France it seems that a different dynamic is taking shape: Emmanuel Macron, classified in the second round of the presidential elections against Marine Le Pen, surpassed her by more than four points precisely because of the vote of those over 60 years of age.
If he struts in the lead with 27.8% of the vote in the first round of voting, Emmanuel Macron owes it mainly to veterans. According to an Ipsos poll, Marine Le Pen bested her in the first round in the 35-49 and 50-59 age groups, while Jean-Luc Mélenchon came out on top in the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups. years. Shocking results for many English-speaking observers who are surprised to see the far-right candidate take second place, replacing Emmanuel Macron among the younger age groups.
A week before the second round, France 24 asked Mathieu Gallard, account manager at Ipsos, how this demographic could affect the outcome of the vote, which is expected to be much closer than the duel between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le pen in 2017 (66.1). % against 33.9%).
According to Mathieu Gallard, the outgoing president’s good performance among retirees will only increase in the second round, giving him a good chance of overtaking Marine Le Pen in the field of young voters. On the other hand, she might have a harder time establishing a solid lead among voters ages 35 to 59.
France 24: How to explain the popularity of Marine Le Pen among middle-aged voters and, to a large extent, among younger voters ?
Mathieu Gallard : The issue of purchasing power is extremely important to French voters, and is by far the most important factor respondents gave us in explaining their vote: 58% of French people said it was the most important, followed by immigration with 27%. Then come the health system and the environment, both with 26%.
So we can see that the election was very polarized on this issue of purchasing power. A theme that Marine Le Pen placed at the center of her campaign, unlike the previous one in 2017 where the predominant message at that time was more about issues related to immigration and security.
Voters between the ages of 35 and 60 are more concerned about purchasing power. Among this portion of the French electorate, around 65-70% said that this issue was the main motivating factor for their election at the polls. This is explained simply by the fact that these people are active in the labor market: they are working or looking for work. They feel many difficulties, especially in the face of the strong increase in fuel prices. This has a huge impact on your budget because, of course, in many cases people have to drive to work, and many French people have to travel very long distances.
In general, those under 60 are more concerned about purchasing power; topics like immigration come next. And his stance on these issues tended to determine whether anti-Macron voters favored Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Voters’ choice between these two candidates also correlated with whether or not they had a college degree. Indeed, if you want to know if the average voter chose Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Mélenchon, it is good to look at their level of education after high school.
When it comes to the under-35s, no age group is homogeneous, and even among the young, some voters are anti-immigration and culturally conservative, though young people in France are generally socially liberal.
However, the main reason that attracts young voters to Marine Le Pen is socio-economic. For the most part, these are young people who live far from the big French cities, in regions that are not doing very well economically, and who may have felt closer to the far-right candidate than to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose electoral base is much more urban.
🇬🇧🗳️ Voting in the first round of the presidential elections based on age, an important factor for the three main candidates. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/g0Z4hjS3Kh
— Mathieu Gallard (@mathieugallard) April 11, 2022
>> April 17, 2002: when Lionel Jospin underestimated the threat of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s FN
Why Emmanuel Macron was so much more popular with voters aged 60+, and especially 70+, than his two main first-round rivals ?
This is not surprising, since the polls we conducted for the second round in 2017 already showed that Emmanuel Macron had obtained 78% of the vote among 70-year-olds. Already at that time, it was a large majority.
Certainly, at the beginning of his mandate, some of his measures were not very well received by retirees. But the various crises that Emmanuel Macron had to face – from the yellow vests to the management of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine – subsequently reinforced his stature in the eyes of this part of the electorate. Also, traditionally, these age brackets generally tend to support the incumbent president.
From a historical point of view, therefore, it is not surprising that this is happening again, and in the case of Emmanuel Macron it seems very much related to the crises he has faced. Older voters generally think he has done well, and are much more likely to think so than the average voter.
It is a part of the electorate that does not want to take risks and therefore thinks: Emmanuel Macron has managed things quite well, let’s stay with him for five more years.
How do you think the age dynamic, which we saw in the first round, will translate to the second? ?
I think we will see the same trends as five years ago. During the last presidential election, we saw a “U” curve in terms of voting by age. Voters under the age of 35 voted for Emmanuel Macron by 66%, a vast majority. Slightly older people, ages 35 to 49, were also supportive, but only 57%. As for people aged 70 and over, they voted for Emmanuel Macron with 78%. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar curve on April 24.
However, it is now very clear that the result will be much closer than five years ago, so perhaps the middle-aged category is very close between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. It would not be surprising if the two candidates found themselves neck and neck in the 35-49 age bracket.
Article adapted from English by Pauline Rouquette. Find the original version here.