French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon's shrinking supporter base has been eroded further, a day after news that he faces a formal investigation for allegations he misused public funds.
A Harris Interactive poll found 25% of people want him to continue as a candidate, down from 35% a month ago, while within his Republicans party there were more resignations from his campaign after he decided yesterday to stay in the race.
Le Parisien newspaper said Mr Fillon's Paris house was searched this morning by investigators probing allegations that he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euro of public money to do very little work.
An official at the financial prosecutor's office declined comment.
A defiant Mr Fillon said he would not give in despite suffering what he said were "weeks of attacks with disproportionate violence".
"You have a fighter before you," he told cheering supporters waving French flags at an evening rally in the southern city of Nimes. "...I have no intention of giving in".
The former poll favourite, who complains of unfair treatment from the justice system and media, says he has done nothing wrong.
With less than two months to go to the 23 April first round vote, surveys now consistently point to a run-off on 7 May between independent candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen that Mr Macron would win.
Mr Macron announced a full manifesto today, while Ms Le Pen gave a speech on "intelligent protectionism" in which she called for the nationalisation of France's public debt.
"Everywhere, from Donald Trump's America, to Narendra Modi's India, from Xi Jinping's China to Theresa May's United Kingdom, economic patriotism is prevailing," she said.
One of the first opinion polls partly taken after Mr Fillon's legal woes deepened yesterday, when adviser Bruno Le Maire quit his campaign, showed his support dipping below 20% for the first time in a week and the gap widening between him and the two leaders.
The Elabe poll, carried out between Tuesday and today, put Mr Fillon on 19%, trailing Ms Le Pen on 27% and Mr Macron on 24%.
Mr Fillon’s campaign treasurer Gilles Boyer, deputy campaign director Sebastien Lecornu and adviser Vincent Le Roux all followed Mr Le Maire's lead today, resigning along with a number of more junior campaign staff.
Three other high-ranking politicians from the left wing of the party - Benoist Apparu, Christophe Bechu and Edouard Philippe - also quit Mr Fillon's cause, saying their decision was prompted by his repeated attacks on the judiciary.
The 62-year-old ex-prime minister is due to be questioned on 15 March by investigating magistrates, who will decide whether to place him under formal investigation.
Supporters plan a rally in Paris on Sunday backing his campaign and protesting at his treatment.
Sources in the Fillon camp have said there was a strong push by some in the party yesterday to have former prime minister Alain Juppe stand in Mr Fillon's place, but that the plan was vetoed by Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president.
"I am convinced that Francois Fillon is about to fall," Georges Fenech, a politician who led a failed rebellion against Mr Fillon last month, told France Info radio.
"It seems to me that today only he [Juppe], with all his experience, can carry the flame."
Mr Juppe, 71, has insisted he has no interest in replacing Mr Fillon.