French poll: Macron leads Le Pen by 24 points in runoff as also-rans unite behind him

Not quite all the also-rans, I should say. Jean-Luc Melenchon, the communist, said today he’d offer no endorsement for the runoff, but both Francois Fillon, the center-right candidate, and Benoit Hamon, the socialist, are behind Macron. So is the current president, Francois Hollande, although that’s no surprise. Macron was one of his advisors.

The first poll of the second round has it Macron 62, Le Pen 38, which is right in line with other Macron/Le Pen polling prior to the first round. Worth noting: French pollsters did a superb job predicting the first-round results, so if they’re missing big on the runoff, it’d be a major, major surprise. For the mainstream parties, it’s the same playbook as in 2002, when Marine Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, stunned the country by making the runoff against Jacques Chirac: Everyone unites against the National Front.

Eighteen months ago, in widely watched regional elections, Ms. Le Pen’s party seemed all but certain to gain control of the two regions in France where it is strongest, the north and the southeast. Most analysts predicted it. In the end, she gained neither: In the second round of those contests, the “Republican Front” united against her, the right and the left, and the National Front failed to gain a single region.

This time, even though she has pushed her party into a second round of voting, her prospects based on the first round do not necessarily look bright, either. She underperformed, gaining 21 percent of votes to Mr. Macron’s nearly 24 percent. Analysts said the result could be seen as a disappointment for the Front, based on polls before the vote…

Mr. Gombin said the results suggested the Front could also fare poorly in crucial legislative elections in June. In order to prevail against Mr. Macron, Ms. Le Pen must gain the votes of over half the Fillon supporters, Mr. Gombin has said. But no poll shows her as achieving that result within a Fillon electorate that is conservative but hardly radical.

The socialist Hamon said in endorsing Macron over Le Pen, “There’s a clear distinction to be made between a political adversary and an enemy of the republic.” Is it possible that Le Pen has a poll surprise in store for the experts the same way Trump and Brexit did? Sure — but if she overperforms her polling by the same margin those two did, she’ll still end up getting crushed. Both Trump and the “Leave” contingent in the UK were within a few points of victory in the final polls before election day, Nate Silver noted last night. Le Pen would have to wildly overperform her own polling after the National Front somewhat underperformed both yesterday and in the regional elections described above. (The Paris terror attack last Thursday appears not to have helped her at all, contra Trump’s predictions.) And she has just two weeks to engineer that overperformance.

Assuming Macron hangs on and wins big, though, is that a victory denied or merely delayed for Le Pen’s movement? Read James Poulos on Europe’s decadent technocracy. If Macron, a 39-year-old with no governing experience, is as underwhelming a president as Hollande was, the “Republican Front” described above will grow brittle and the Overton window will shift. Especially among the young.

The real story of France and Europe laid bare by Macron’s whisker of a win is that simply no consensus exists among today’s adult generations about how to refashion a future for Europe. Right now, there is really no question that the globalist center’s ideal “future” has been tabled indefinitely by events. There’s not even any falling back on an “end of history.” History is skipping like a bad record, glitching over the same travails. An open-ended financial and economic predicament with no rational solution and no mores deep enough to cauterize the wound and start fresh. A continuous low-grade panic attack of police action and surveillance, struggling undermanned and under cultural constraints to prevent just enough terror attacks and abuses, whatever that magic number may be. A complete forfeit of any plan to push EU regulatory unification toward the singularity point that the European project had always envisioned, however abstractly, as its justifying goal.

Neither Macron nor anyone on his ideological team has the first inkling of how to surmount or steer clear of these impasses.

Sometimes life does reduce down to muddling through or bust. But, again, all the trouble and pain is meant to be endured in the name of little more than the same: the secular ethic of terminal niceness, the spirit of the world’s last museum curator or librarian, the small passing pleasures of enlightened materialism, the social bureaucrat who nibbles away at the edges of emotional injustice the way pensioners work at a jigsaw puzzle.

Why would the young go to the polls to protect values as meager as those for election after election to come? Of note: The strongest candidate among the 18-34-year-old group yesterday was none other than Marine Le Pen at 25.7 percent, followed by the communist Melenchon at 24.6 percent. (Le Pen finished at less than 10 percent among the 65-and-older group, which Philip Klein notes is the opposite of Trumpian populism age-wise in the U.S.) Together they took a clear majority of younger French voters. The Overton window may have moved already.

Mindful that the plural of “anecdote” isn’t “data,” enjoy this from ABC.