This year France will elect its President, in an unprecedented election that sees three outsider candidates in the race for the presidency.
The two finalists of the election 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. Both are set to compete in a run-off election on May 7th, the winner of which becomes president.
Ultimately, Emmanuel Macron looks to be the most likely candidate to win the presidency. He holds a 22% 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 22-point deficiency, even if the Macron-Le Pen lead in polls has shrunk a bit since the first round.
Pundits, other forecasters and the betting market place the chance of a Le Pen victory much higher than in our models, based on the assumption that after Brexit and Trump, the polls are somehow wrong. However, Brexit and Trump were indeed within the standard margin of error – this result isn’t. If anything, Le Pen under-performed her polls in the first round – even if the polls are wrong, it is very unlikely that they be in her favor.