With the last results rolling in, it appears that Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are poised to advance to the second round. So, how did our model perform in the first round?
|Candidate||Expected Polling Average||Actual Result||Difference||Polling Average Volatility|
Overall, our polling averages performed extremely well: the average error for the main candidates was 0.72%, and our adjusted polling predictions per candidate performed within 1.1% of the actual result for every single candidate. It appears that there was a slight overestimation of Le Pen and Hamon, and an underestimation of Fillon and Melenchon. The estimations for Macron were accurate to 0.2%.
As for our second-round predictions, we predicted Macron had a 79% chance of making the second round, and Le Pen a 72% chance, with a 58% chance of such a result. In retrospect, some may argue that we underestimated the chance of such a result happening. In reality, considering how the average polling result in elections have differed by about 3%, and the gap between second and third was only 1.5%, our prediction was most likely the most accurate.
The most significant result perhaps is how the prediction of a “shy Le Pen voter” failed to materialize – indeed, she appeared to under-perform many polls that day. This will hold implications in the second round.
Surprisingly, Le Pen’s chance of winning has actually dropped in the face of making the second round. This is mainly because who she is up against – if it were a candidate other than Macron, she would have been more successful.
Ultimately, the election looks rather decided in favor of Macron. He holds a 26% lead in polling averages as of right now – even in the historic Truman-Dewey upset of 1948, the polls were wrong by “only” 17%. Whilst there is certainly the possibility of a shift in voters from other candidates such as Melenchon to Le Pen, we do not anticipate this to overcome a 26-point deficiency. The election truly is Macron’s to lose.
First-Round Prediction (Archived)
This year France will elect its President, in an unprecedented election that sees three outsider candidates in the race for the presidency.
So far, the front-runners in the campaign are Marine Le Pen, leader of the populist National Front (FN), Emmanuel Macron, former socialist minister and leader of the newly founded pro-European party En Marche! (EM). Both front-runners are unique in that they have never held a major elected office, came from parties that were not expected to win and were unexpected candidates for the presidency.
Francois Fillon of the Republicans (LR) is at a strong third, he too was an unusual pick for the presidency. In fourth place and rapidly rising in the polls since his stellar debate performance is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the “Unsubmissive France” (FI) movement that was founded only recently. In fifth place, the incumbent Socialist party’s Benoit Hamon flounders in the polls, despite having removed the widely unpopular incumbent president, Francois Hollande, from the ticket.
Currently, Le Pen and Macron are in a dead heat for first place in the first round of voting, to be held on the 23rd of April. Francois Fillon trails behind, suffering from a drop in polls after a scandal emerged regarding misuse of EU funds. Behind them is the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has recently surged past Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon and looks to be closing the gap on Francois Fillon. The gap between the four candidates have narrowed by quite a bit in the last while, and this has had an effect on the results for the first round.
After the first round of voting, the top two candidates are expected to face off in the second round of voting, held on the 7th of May 2017, the winner of which becomes President.
It is interesting to note how despite Melenchon and Le Pen having lower polling averages, they lead Fillon and Macron in probability of making the second round, respectively. In the case of Le Pen compared to Macron, this is because of Le Pen’s more hardened core of supporters as opposed to that of Macron. In the case of Melenchon compared to Fillon, this is because of the high chance that Hamon voters might transfer towards Melenchon.
In the second round, the most likely match-up will probably be Macron vs Le Pen, which has a 58% chance of happening and is extremely likely to lead to a Macron victory:
The second-most-likely match-up, occurring between Melenchon and Le Pen, usually leads to a win for Melenchon, but with a slimmer margin. The lack of a centrist candidate in this scenario makes it especially interesting and volatile.
The third-most-likely match-up, occurring between Fillon and Le Pen, usually leads to a win for Fillon, but with a slimmer margin than Macron-Le Pen:
Next, is the Macron-Melenchon match-up. The advantage looks to be with Macron, but due to the potential influx of former Le Pen voters to hard-left candidates, the result could be uncertain.
The Macron-Fillon scenario, once seen as highly likely, looks like a far shot, occurring in only 8% of situations. Macron appears to be likely to win, but this might change if large amounts of Le Pen votes move to Fillon.
Ultimately, Emmanuel Macron looks to be the most likely candidate to win the presidency. He has a lead over all the candidate and looks (relatively) safe to make the second round. In the second round, he is favored to beat almost every other candidate. However, it is important to recognize how low a 63.5% probability is – the result is far from guaranteed.
Macron’s lead has been reducing recently, due to the rise of Mélenchon his left wing, and the potential consolidation of a left-wing candidate. He has dropped in polls slightly whilst his opponents have risen (see the chart above), consequently his chance of victory has dropped from nearly 80% to around 60% in our model from 18 days ago. Although there has been a slight rise in his polls recently, his result is far from guaranteed.
Francois Fillon is several percentage points away from Macron, and it would be unlikely that he would make the second round, although his distance from Macron has decreased recently. He is also distasteful to many left-wing voters who dislike his socially conservative stance.
Le Pen appears to be too likely to lose the second round to win. In almost all match-ups in the second round, she appears to lose heavily. However, her strong core of support means that there is the possibility that low voter turnout among anti-Le Pen groups may cause her to eke out a victory.
Mélenchon is rising rapidly in the polls, and has momentum. However, he appears to be quite unappealing to centrists and looks unlikely. If he manages to gain an endorsement from Hamon, and merge their bases of support, then he stands a legitimate chance of making it to the second round and winning.
Regardless of who wins, they are likely to shake up the French political scene for many years to come.