National Front leader Marine Le Pen came out the strongest candidate among women and young voters in the first round of the French presidential election held on Sunday.
An election-day survey conducted by Opinion Way revealed that Le Pen earned the support of 23.9 percent of female voters, besting Emmanuel Macron who earned the nod of 21.3 percent of female voters.
Le Pen turned out to be the favorite of young voters, too, as she outperformed the other candidates in this category's support. Opinion Way found that Le Pen won 25.7 percent of voters aged 18-34, while Jean-Luc Melenchon and Macron won 24.6 percent and 21.6 percent of the said demographic respectively.
Independent centrist candidate Macron edged out Le Pen in the overall votes earned with 23.8 percent to Le Pen's 21.4 percent. The two would face off in the winner take all second round of voting on May 7.
The Opinion Way's poll was done online on April 23 with a .5-1 point margin of uncertainty.
Le Pen has announced that she is temporarily stepping down as leader of the National Front to fully devote her time and focus on her presidential bid as she faces Macron in the runoff and final round of the French presidential election two weeks from now. Le Pen said she would focus on the campaign, in a move seen as embracing a wider range of voters ahead of the face off with Macron.
Le Pen said in an interview that taking a leave from her party would allow her to feel freer and "above party politics" which she feels is important in the crucial two weeks of the campaign before the decisive vote on May 7. For months during the previous campaign, Le Pen has been clarifying that strictly-speaking, she is not a candidate of the National Front but one who is backed by the party. She has also been strongly distancing herself from her father Jean-Marie, the former leader of the National Front. Le Pen has not used her party's name and trademark flame logo on her campaign posters. She has also always claimed ownership to her policy platforms and said they are not necessarily the party's stand as well.
Le Pen declared on French public television that: "Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the presidential candidate." And as her opening salvo to seek the second-round votes, Le Pen stressed the continuing threat of Islamic radicalism, which has claimed more than 230 lives in France since 2015. She slammed 39-year-old Macron as " to say the least, weak" on the issue.