French pollsters correctly predicted the first round – hopefully they are also correct about the second round

If you are anything like me then you have been somewhat nervous ever since the Brits voted in the EU referendum. It seemed like, without a clue often what they were actually voting for, half of the nation (that could be bothered to actually vote, which makes it roughly a quarter) voted to leave the EU.

Since then the Americans proved to be even more reckless and voted for Trump while the Dutch pulled themselves together and voted much more sensibly. And now the people of France will – hopefully – do as the Dutch did and reject their own extreme right-wing candidate, Le-Pen.

The first reason why I am feeling a bit confident today is simple. In all polls conducted in the week leading up to the second (and final) round Macron had been polling well ahead of his neo-fascist rival. Now, pollsters have had their fair share (and more) of criticism recently, and while I do not agree with all the criticism I am less trusting than I was before.

However, the second reason why I am feeling a bit more optimistic now is that French pollsters did indeed do a fine job of telling the outcome of the first round in advance. For example, in the week leading up to the election the polls, on average, predicted:

  • Macron to win the first-round with 23.7% of the vote, he won with 24%;
  • that Le Pen would come second with 22.3%, she did come second with 21.3%; and
  • that they would be followed by Fillon (19.6%) and Mélenchon (18.8%), again quite close, Fillon did come third and received 20% of the vote while Mélenchon received 19.6%.

The point being, the first-round polls were pretty accurate and if they keep being accurate, then the 20% plus margin that Macron has now should suffice. But not only were the polls accurate, they were even a bit bullish on Le Pen (on average overestimating her share by one percent).

The figure below gives a good illustration of the accuracy of the polls and the moderate bullishness on Le Pen. the Figure shows that in the week leading up to the election, pollsters had pretty much nailed Macron at somewhere around 24% (blue dots on chart are polls and solid orange line is actual result). At the same time, Le Pen was generally estimated at around 22-23% and she ends up with 21.3% (for her the light orange dots are the polls and actual outcome is the grey line).

Macron Pen
The polls predicted the first-round elections quite accurately

In conclusion, the margin of 20% or more that Macron has consistently been polling at in recent days makes me feel fairly confident that the French are currently doing the right thing and declining the neo-fascist any real power. I truly hope I am right.

Thanks for reading,

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