France: post-election analysis

Once again, we have correctly predicted an outcome of a general election. As we said on Saturday:

“The overall likelihood of a Le Pen victory is below 1%. Unless there is a huge Black Swan event on Sunday, Emmanuel Macron should be the next President of France.”

Emmanuel Macron is indeed the next President of France. He won by a, rather unexpected, landslide of 65.8% to 34.2%.

Source: StarusFile:2017 French presidential election – Second round – Majority vote (Metropolitan France, communes).svg, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Most pollsters were saying that the result will be around 60% to 40% for Macron, although the result was tightening at one point in the days prior to the debate on May 3rd. It seems that Macron’s persuasive performance in the debate was the decisive turning point of the election, as the polls started to again show a diverging trend between the two candidates. The average of post-debate polls in the last two days of the campaign was 62.3% to 37.7% for Macron. Once again a very good result for the pollsters.

Interestingly however our survey was projecting a much tighter result. We predicted that Macron was going to get 56% to Le Pen’s 44%. Our survey captured the distrust of our participants towards the projections of the pollsters. In our many interactions with our participants we could hear both sides believing that the pollsters were overestimating Macron due to a greater media bias towards him. People were highly suspicious of the polls and we had to defuse a large bias bubble. Even when we look at our sample of only Macron voters they collectively predicted a result of 59.5% to 41.5%. The Le Pen voters on the other hand collectively predicted her to get just above 50%. This is normal. Core partisan supporters are always biased in favor of their candidate. Our method works to as a way of eliminating the biases of core supporters and from that, in addition to a few glitches, formulates an optimal prediction of how the people feel what is likely to happen.

What happened in this election is that the people of France honestly believed that Le Pen has a chance of winning. Even the Macron supporters were expressing genuine concern that she might pull it off. After the debate they were more optimistic on his chances but still his numbers on our survey were not going over 60%.

Our survey therefore captured the sentiment of the voters really well. It turns out that their concerns were exaggerated, but after Brexit and Trump the French voters were obviously overly cautious in their expectations. In the end it’s worth noting that according to the exit polls, 43% of Macron voters said that they voted for him in order to stop Le Pen from winning power. This surge in anti-Le Pen supporters from genuine fear of her victory is what ultimately proved decisive in this election.

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