If the Socialist Party candidate, François Hollande, is not elected Président de la République Française on Sunday, it will be a major surprise. The campaign ends tonight at midnight. Saturday is a day for voters to reflect on their choice.
The big debate between Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, the sitting president, took place Wednesday evening. Hollande went into the debate as the leader, and nothing that happened during his face-off with Sarkozy changed anything. Polls still show Hollande leading by 5 or 6 percentage points.
The presidential debate was watched on TV by three million fewer people than the 2007 debate was. Those who tuned out the debate might have been voters loyal to the far-right candidate, the Front National's Marine Le Pen, who announced that she would put a blank ballot in the urn on Sunday. Many of the six million who voted for her in the first round might do the same, reducing Sarkozy's score more than Hollande's.
The centrist candidate, François Bayrou, who was eliminated in the first round of voting two weeks ago, yesterday endorsed Hollande. The approximately 10% of the voters who supported him in the first round are of course free to vote as they choose, but many of them will follow their leader's example.
I'll be in a car somewhere in Massachusetts or New York state Sunday afternoon, Eastern Time, when the result comes in. I'll be listening to the radio, for sure.