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A couple of months ago I was wondering if Can François Fillon be replaced as candidate of The Republicans to the presidential elections? . He finally did not and he has been slowly but steadily improving his numbers in the polls since the end of March.

Quoting Financial Times in French election poll tracker, we see the trend here:

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I am aware of him offering big rallies (François Fillon offers modicum of contrition in defiant rally address) and having support of the conservative, Catholic population that kept supporting him when things looked like he would resign as a candidate.

However, still I find it difficult to understand what were the key factors that kept him "alive" and why he is going up in the polls, to the point that he being in the 2nd round looked absurd one month ago and now it is possible.

Could it have to do with the rise on the polls of Mélenchon, making some conservatives fear him and decide to go for Fillon?

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    Could it be that some voters view him as the not le pen candidate? Just saying. – dannyf Apr 21 '17 at 15:56
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    Keep in mind too that polls are conducted on a small subset of voters, not necessarily representative of the whole population. What a candidate might do or not do is difficult to explain. Furthermore, you are saying that he is improving is numbers recently, but those are vote intentions in the first round. It doesn't tell you what people in general are thinking, see approval ratings or similar for that. His going to the second round depends greatly on how the other candidates are doing, so not entirely up to him. – SdaliM Apr 21 '17 at 18:34
  • Most people think as the scandals to be an orchestration by another candidate, and thus, by giging up their support to him, they'd do what their political opponent wants them to do. Also, since all politicians have such affairs anyway, at least Fillon's one proves that family is an important value for him. – Bregalad Apr 21 '17 at 21:01
  • @SdaliM: it depends on the institutions making the polls. Some use the method of quotas (trying to have a very accurate representation of the population in terms of age, jobs, incomes,...). This is fairly accurate and that's why, even though it is possible to vote until 8PM in Paris, news show can publish results precise to the tenth of % at exactly 8PM (and they could announce them earlier - as foreign press does - if it was not forbidden by law). Some other institutions use vote by internet and pay people to answer surveys: this is known to lead to big bias of representativity. – Taladris Apr 23 '17 at 5:44
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How could he recover ?

The "recovery" is not that clear, he did not go back to the level of support he had in january. At some point people spoke about him stepping down, but the support in the polls for him (or the replacement right-wing candidate) never went very low, as shown by your graph.

Could it have to do with the rise on the polls of Mélenchon, making some conservatives fear him and decide to go for Fillon?

This would not be a rational approach. Indeed, Fillon is predicted to lose against Mélenchon in a second round. The only candidate who is predicted to win a second round against Mélenchon is Macron.

As for why he still has support, this becomes more of a subjective question.

One reason can be the support for his ultra-liberal agenda. He did call for French people to support him, not to love him, which was a change in attitude. And he is still the candidate of an important party.

Another one can be the importance of the fraud he is accused of. Some other financial scandals concerning french politicians were to another level. We can compare his affairs (giving fake jobs to his wife and kids) to those of the 2012 right-wing candidate, Mr Sarkozy (money taken on sub-marine sale to Pakistan, Khadafi supposedly founding his 2007 campaign, taking advantage of an old rich woman, ...). Both the amount of money involved and the "moral context" are quite different. Reading the traditionnal press, one can infer that traditionally right-wing voters, while disappointed, are willing to forgive him.

As pointed out in the other answer, his age compared to the one of Macron could also be one explanation.

Regarding the support of the catholic population, I wouldn't bet on it. According to this article, only 5 % of French people regularly go to a mass, while about half claim to be catholic (less than half according to the latest estimates, 53 % in this article from a Catholic journal). Among those "catholics", 6% of them did take part in the anti-gay wedding demonstrations ("manif pour tous"), 73% did not want to take part in it. You don't get among them the 19 % of vote intentions of the polls. While Fillon brags about being fervent, this does not look like it has a big influence on his voters, for the simple reason that French people don't care that much about religiosity when it comes to politics.

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Francois Fillon is the most experienced candidate of the lot.

He represents a stable vision for a lot of French voters who are more conservative in their political views; those voters who do not see themselves in the Front National political positions and do not see themselves in Emmanuel Macron's extreme center positions

I imagine that there are a lot of people in France (and elsewhere) that do not trust a politician younger than they are; when most of your life you elected older politicians, and now they see a younger generation coming up.

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