After the first round of voting, Gbagbo's people proudly pointed to a map of the country in which regions in the south, east, and west all voted for Gbagbo, supposedly proving that he's truly a candidate who rises above the tribalism and regional popularity of his adversaries. Attracting this broad appeal is actually Gbagbo's only option, as he belongs to a minority ethnicity, the Bété, who cannot propel him to victory on their own.
First-round runner-up Ouattara, a member of the Dioula ethnic group, took only regions in the north (where he received almost 90 percent of the vote in some cases) and third place finisher Henri Konan Bédié won in the center of the country, where his Baoulé ethnic group dominates.
Mr. Bédié has been dropped from the ballot for Sunday's run-off election, and in spite of their rise-above rhetoric, the two front-running candidates have been heavily courting the Baoulé vote. Bédié's 25 percent support in the first round makes him king-maker in the run-off.
Three days after the vote, Bédié cut short any speculation and threw his support behind Ouattara, saying that had they worked together in the government of independence leader Félix Houphouët-Boigny and could work together again because they hail from the same political family. But as the run-off draws near, it's unclear whether this endorsement will be enough to overcome the Baoulé's ethnic pre-occupations.