Speed Reads

dead heat

Macron and Le Pen neck and neck ahead of French presidential election Sunday, poll shows

Ring-wing challenger Marine Le Pen is snapping at the heels of centrist French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of Sunday's presidential election, according to a poll published Friday by French research firm Elaba.

The poll, which surveyed 1,801 people on Thursday and Friday, shows Macron and Le Pen polling at 26 and 25 percent, respectively, in the crowded first-round field. The gap is will within the margin of error.

Both Macron and Le Pen are all but certain to make the second round. The third-highest polling candidate, leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is polling at 17.5 percent.

In French presidential elections, if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the first round, voters return to the polls two weeks later for a runoff between the top two candidates. In 2017, Macron trounced Le Pen in the second round, receiving nearly two-thirds of the vote.  

Polling suggests that a repeat of 2017 is unlikely. According to Elabe, the 61-31 lead Macron held over Le Pen in second-round polling conducted in early March has entirely evaporated. The incumbent president now polls at 51 percent to Le Pen's 49, well within the margin of error once again.

According to The Associated Press, Le Pen, once viewed as a far-right extremist, has successfully broadened her appeal while sidestepping accusations of too-cozy relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, per AP, rising prices have eaten into Macron's poll numbers.