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article imageSarkozy advances in the polls

By Layne Weiss     Mar 13, 2012 in Politics
Paris - Just days ago it seemed as if Francois Hollande, the Socialist challenger in the French presidential race was the clear favorite to win, but a poll taken Tuesday shows that Hollande and his opponent, President Nicolas Sarkozy are in a dead heat.
The rise in support for Sarkozy comes just a couple days after a "rousing" speech in which Sarkozy promised tougher immigration controls at the borders, and more support and preference toward French and European owned businesses, the New York Times reports.
The poll determined that if the first round of the presidential election were held today, Sarkozy would get 28.5% of the vote, and Hollande would get 27%. In a second round run-off, Sarkozy would still trail Hollande, but in a much narrower margin. The last poll saw Sarkozy trailing by 13 points, but Tuesday's shows him only trailing by 9, Reuters reports.
This is Sarkozy's first poll lead against Hollande, which shows his speech struck a chord with voters, and that they approve of the tough stance he's taking on immigration.
"I think it is now quite plausible that Nicolas Sarkozy will win the first round," said Bruno Cautres, a public opinion specialist at the Center for Political Research at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques. "I think this is a portentous moment. In means that, if he can maintain this momentum, a second round might be a very close race."
Hollande's team has played down the new figures. "Nothing is set. It's one poll among many," said Manuel Valls, spokesman for the Hollande campaign.
Sarkozy had a similar reaction. He was understandably happy, but he didn't want to talk up the survey results as if he had won the election. He simply smiled and said, " I don't believe you when you said it was all over. And I don't believe you anymore when you say it's on the rebound."
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is ranked 3rd in the polls, according to Reuters.
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