Are Sarkozy backers right to be so confident?
With just over two and a half weeks to go before the first round of voting in the French Presidential election betting opinion in the UK seems to be hardening behind the Rightâ€™s Nicolas Sarkozy.
Almost everyday at the moment French journalists are contacting me about the UK betting interest in the fight and for them I have presented the chart showing changing sentiment in the betting in terms of implied probabilities that the best odds represent.
As can be seen the main move in recent weeks has been away from the centrist candidate, FranÃ§ois Bayrou, who at one stage was getting very close to Sarkozy and the Socialist partyâ€™s SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal in the polls.
The critical element in the French system is which two candidates will win most votes in the first round of voting because only them go through to the final round. For a period it looked as though Bayrou might squeeze into a run-off place and some polls suggested that he could beat Sarkozy.
He’s now slipped back in the polls and it appears at the moment that the second round will be the contest that everybody had been predicting – the right’s Sarkozy against the left’s Royal.
But after what happened in 2002 when the polls totally underestimated support for the Front Nationalâ€™s Jean-Marie Le Pen you cannot be totally certain. He just squeezed past the Socialist candidate to make the final run-ff against Chirac.
What I find interesting are polls that ask how respondents voted five years ago. In a number of instances the percentage of those saying Le Pen is only about the total who actually did go that way in 2002. Could the same be happening again and the impact of the Front National be being understated. If that is happening who would be the loser?