Several media have reported that President Emmanuel Macron is predicted to win April’s presidential election with 90 days to go before voters go to the polls. However, we look at how these polls are rarely right.
A survey carried out on 1,500 people by research company OpinionWay last week gave President Macron 25% of the vote in the first round, with Valérie Pécresse (for the right-wing Les Républicains) and Marine Le Pen (for the far-right Rassemblement national) both gaining 17%.
A second round between Mr Macron and Ms Pécresse would then see the president win 57% of the vote, according to the poll.
In a second poll carried out by public opinion specialist Ipsos, 26% of the 1,500 respondents said they would vote for Mr Macron, 16% for Ms Pécresse and 17% for Ms Le Pen. In the second round, Macron was then predicted to gain 55% of the vote against Ms Pécresse and 58% against Ms Le Pen.
Market research agency Harris Interactive carried out a poll in the last week of December, which gave Mr Macron 24% of the first round vote, giving Ms Pécresse, Ms Le Pen and Éric Zemmour (Far Right) 16%. Again, it predicted that Mr Macron would win the second round.
90-day polls are often wrong
In France 90-day polls have proved to be far from accurate on several occasions.
Three months before the presidential election of 1965, polling and market research firm Institut français d’opinion publique (Ifop) predicted that Charles de Gaulle would be reelected with 68% of the vote.
In reality he did not gain a majority in the first round, where his 45% of the vote was challenged by François Mitterand’s 32%. However, he did eventually win the election with 55% of the vote in the second round.
In 1988, opinion polls suggested that Mitterand would be fighting it out against Raymond Barre, but in the end it was Jacques Chirac who made it to the second round.
In 2002, the polls predicted that Chirac would be in close competition with Lionel Jospin, and Jean-Marie Le Pen of the then Front national was accorded 8% of the vote.
However, on April 21, Le Pen unexpectedly gained 17% of the vote compared to Chirac’s 20%, and qualified for the second round run-off.
Ouest France boycotts opinion polls over concerns for democracy
France’s biggest regional newspaper group Ouest France announced in October that it will not be publishing the results of any polls ahead of the election in April.
Editor-in-chief François-Xavier Lefranc said: “Why consult citizens when it is so easy to wait for the polls? Why go to the trouble of building a political manifesto when, for a few thousand euros, the polls will tell you what people expect of you? Why bother debating with political militants to appoint a candidate when the polls can take care of it?
Ouest-France ne participera pas à la grande manip, ne réalisera aucun sondage politique avant la présidentielle et évitera de perdre du temps à commenter ceux des autres. Nous nous consacrerons au reportage, à l'enquête, au plus près de celles et ceux qui ont des choses à dire. https://t.co/6ZYo2b6syg— FX Lefranc (@fx_lefranc) October 23, 2021
“At every election, there is a desire to know the result before the French people have voted” for it, he commented, adding that by concentrating on polls politicians forget about “the most important things: meeting citizens, having meaningful exchanges, debating ideas, listening to what normal people are living every day, to their worries, their hopes.
“Democracy is fragile. The multiplication of discourses which are populist, hateful and extremist should however keep us on our guard.
“It is not by consulting ‘representative panels’ that politics will regain its strength, it is by consulting one and all.”