Emmanuel Macron, leader of the En Marche! party is running 16 points ahead of National Front Party Leader Marine Le Pen as the May 7 French presidential runoff approaches, according to a Suffolk University poll of registered voters in France. However the blank vote—which essentially registers as “none of the above”—is the choice of 15 percent of French voters who plan to be recorded as voting in the final election.

Macron had the support of 47 percent of voters, as opposed to Le Pen’s 31 percent, and 7 percent were undecided.

“It’s understandable that there is a substantial bloc of blank voters, largely comprised of those who supported the nine losing candidates from the first election held in April,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “These voters are attempting to make a political statement, because 75 percent of all voters in that first election did not vote for Macron or Le Pen.”

Macron carried the Paris area by 40 points and won in virtually every region except the northeast, a Le Pen stronghold, where the second-generation politician did well in the first round of voting.

Le Pen led by a 2-1 margin among French voters who identified themselves as right of center politically. Macron led 61 percent to 20 percent among those in the center and 58 percent to 12 percent among those identifying politically as left of center.

French voters did not look favorably on either candidate. Macron fared better, recording a 52 percent unfavorable rating versus 42 percent favorable, while Le Pen was viewed unfavorably by 69 percent and favorably by 27 percent. Forty percent of respondents who had negative views of both Macron and Le Pen said they will vote blank, and 16 percent were undecided.

Incumbent President François Hollande had low ratings (71 percent unfavorable–25 percent favorable). Macron, a former investment banker and minister under Hollande, has sought to distance himself from Hollande since leaving his position in the government last year to start his new political party, En Marche!

Attitudes about France’s status correlated with Hollande’s low favorability: 68 percent of voters said that France is on the wrong track, while 19 percent said it is going in the right direction.

European Union

French voters are satisfied with the European Union as currently constructed, and a majority would not choose to withdraw from the EU. Sixty-five percent of likely voters said they consider the EU favorably, while 31 percent do not. On the question of whether France should elect to withdraw from the EU as the British did with Brexit, 74 percent said they would oppose a French withdrawal, while 21 percent favored leaving the EU.

Trump among most unpopular world leaders

French voters took a dim view of several world leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump (82 percent unfavorable–13 percent favorable), Russian President Vladimir Putin (71 percent unfavorable–20 percent favorable), and Chinese President Xi Jinping (43 percent unfavorable–19 percent favorable).

Former U.S. President Barack Obama recorded stunning approval ratings in France, with 90 percent of voters viewing him favorably and 8 percent unfavorably. The only other world figures to be viewed positively were German Chancellor Angela Merkel (70 percent favorable – 23 percent unfavorable) and Dutch Green Left leader Jesse Klaver (31 percent favorable – 21 percent unfavorable).

“To put former President Obama’s popularity in perspective, his 90 percent favorable number in France tops his showing even among Democratic voters in the United States,” said Paleologos.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was viewed unfavorably by 41 percent and favorably by 34 percent.

Methodology

The nationwide survey of 1,094 likely voters in the May 7 French election was conducted April 27 – May 2, excluding May 1 (Labor Day in France). Live telephone interviews were conducted with households where respondents indicated they were registered to vote. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.