For both polling agencies, that was the smallest spread registered in the campaign, which a few months ago saw polls predicting Hollande winning by a crushing 60 percent to Sarkozy’s 40.
The margin of error on each poll was plus or minus 2-3 percent. BVA questioned 2,161 people by telephone on Thursday. CSA questioned 1,123 people by telephone on Thursday.
The polls were carried out after the candidates’ only debate on Wednesday night, which Sarkozy had hoped would be the knockout blow he needed.
Hollande has received the support of a prominent centrist who won 9 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections, Francois Bayrou. Bayrou said on Thursday night he would not give his voters specific guidance for yesterday’s vote — but that he would cast a ballot for Hollande.
Critics of Sarkozy have often faulted him for his brash style, alleged chumminess with the rich, and inability to reverse France’s tough economic fortunes and nearly double-digit jobless rate.
Hollande has promised more government spending and higher taxes — including a 75 percent income tax on the rich — and wants to renegotiate a European treaty on trimming budgets to avoid more debt crises of the kind facing Greece.