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MAY4,2017

ThePredictionGame:DataScienceFirmsvs.PollstersonSundaysFrench
PresidentialElection
BYBRENTM.EASTWOODANDMATHEWBURROWS

(/blogs/futuresource/thepredictiongamedatasciencefirmsvspollstersonsundaysfrenchpresidentialelection?tmpl=component&print=1)

Pollstersusedtohavethemonopolyonpredictingelectoraloutcomes.Butstartups(/publications/reports/keepingamericasinnovativeedge)thatusedatascience,machine
learning,andartificialintelligencehavebeencrowdingintothatmarketandinseveralcasesbestingthepollstersattheirowngame.BrexitandDonaldTrumpselectoral
victoryconfoundedpollsters,butwereforecastbyseveralofthedatasciencefirms.AsweheadtowardthesecondroundoftheFrenchpresidentialelectiononMay7,we
wantedtoreviewhowthenewstartupscomeupwiththeirforecastsandcomparedtheirpredictionswithpollsters.Sofar,theaccuracyawardwenttoFrenchpollingfirmsfor
beingstoponintheirpredictionsoftheMacronvictoryinthefirstround.

DataStartupsFirstTimeLucky?
Predata(http://www.predata.com/),withitsmainofficeinNewYorkCity,mainlyanalyzeselectionsbywhatitcallsdigitalconversations.Thesearemeasuredbythe
candidatesTwitteractivityplusanalysisofcandidatesearchesofWikipedia.ThisenabledPredatatomakeanaccuratecall(https://medium.com/thepredatabrexitdaily/we
gotthebrexitresultrightd1acf9610d9f)onBrexit.ItsBrexitcoverageshowedtheRemaincamplosingthedigitalbattleasearlyasMay2016,amonthormorebeforethe
vote.ThestartuprecentlyaddedanelectionmetricbasedonYouTubeengagementtomeasurethecandidatesshorttermdigitalpresence.

Inablogpost(https://medium.com/@predata/francesixreasonsthesecondroundoutcomecouldbecloserthanpollssuggestdcc3103ef967)fortheFrenchpresidential
electionreleasedonApril26,PredatanotedEmmanuelMacrons20pointleadinthepollsoverMarineLePenandfoundthatlittleinPredatasdigitalsignalstodayoffersa
crediblebasistoquestionthepollspredictionoftheoveralloutcome.Frenchpollinghasbeenextremelyaccurate(http://www.bbc.com/news/worldeurope39641442),but
thereweremanyreasonsthefinalvotertallycouldbecloserthan20points.

PredataalsodeterminedthatMacronwasperformingbetteronYouTubeinteractionsinthefirstweekaftertheopeninground.OnlineconversationsforLePenhadimproved
onApril26,butwerenotenoughtomakeabigdifferenceinthepolls,accordingtothefirm.Predataalsorevealedthatingeographicalswingregionswherebothcandidates
runveryclose,LePensdigitalpresencewasnotmovingtheneedleaftershefinishedsecondininitialvoting.Itisnotagoodsignforthe(sometime)[NationalFront]leader,
whoneedstowinconvincinglyintheswinghinterlandsifshestohaveanyhopeofbreakingthetyrannyofwhatsheearlierthisweekcalled
(http://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2017/04/24/marinelepenattaquelevieuxfrontrepublicaintoutpourriautourdemmanuelmacron_5116497_823448.html)therotten
oldRepublicanfront.

PredataconcludedonApril26thattheoveralldigitalcontestisfairlyeven,butthatvoterapathyandpeoplerefusingtovotecouldinfluencetheoutcome.Itnotedthat
abstentioncouldhurtMacronmorethanLePen.

Inaresearchupdate(https://medium.com/@predata/francemacronsnotthereyet9a3c8531af4f)onApril30,PredataagainpredictedthatLePenwoulddobetterthanwhat
pollshavesuggested.

Predataalsorevealed...LePensdigitalpresencewasnotmovingtheneedleaftershefinishedsecond
ininitialvoting.

TheresnothinginoursignalstoindicateLePenwillwinthesituationremainsaswedescribeditlatelastweek,withMacrondominatingthedigitalconversationonce
YouTubeisincluded,butLePenedgingthecontestifWikipediaandTwitterarethesolesignalinputs.

GovBrain(http://govbrain.com/)islocatedinWashington,DCandpredictedDonaldTrumpwouldwinboththeprimary(https://medium.com/@wilsco56/govbrainstrumpcard
ae858812c845)andgeneral(https://medium.com/@beastwood1919/govbrainsbrentmeastwoodpredictedtrumpwouldwinthegeneralelectiononmay105d15e5340e56)
elections.ItusesapatentpendingTrendMeterinsideitsmachinelearningandartificialintelligencesystem.TheGovBrainsystemsearchesdatafromnearlyonethousand
government,regulatory,andlegislativesourcesalongwithpolitical,financial,andtechnologynewssitesfromaroundtheworld.TheGovBraintrendmeterisselfcontained,
andunlikePredataandotherentities,itdoesnotincorporateanalysisofsocialmedia,GoogleandWikipediasearches,YouTubeinteractions,orpollingdataitspredictive
signalisunique.Tousethetrendmetertobegintrackinganelection,onesimplytypesthenameofthecandidate,clicksenter,andwatchestheresultsovertime.

InitstrendmeteranalysisconductedduringtheweekofApril24,basedontworeadingsperday,GovBrainalsofoundthatMacronmaintainedasteadyleadthatwassimilar
totheinitialpollingdata.Accordingtothetrendmeter,MacronsbiggestleadwasonTuesdayafternoon,April25.LePensbestdaywasonWednesday,April26,whenshe
cutintoMacronsleadbyabout3pointsovernight.ShealsooverperformedonWednesdayafternoon,butMacroncameroaringbackwithamuchbettergrowthvelocity(rate
of24hourgrowth)allday,Thursday,April27.

OnFriday,April28,LePenslightlycutintoMacronsleadwithabettergrowthvelocity.LePensimprovedFridayperformancecouldhavebeentheresultofvoterfearsafter
newsaboutanothersuspectedIslamistshootingoftwopoliceofficersinRunionthedaybefore.LePencontinuedhermomentumovertheweekendonApril29andApril30.
TrendmeterreadingsfoundhergrowthvelocitywashigherthanMacronslastSaturdayandSunday.However,MacronrightedtheshipbeginningonMonday,May1,and
continuedtoputupgoodnumbersonTuesday.

FrenchPollstersTakingAdvantageofLessonsLearned
ThesuccessofFrenchpollstersinthefirstroundwasduetotheirbetterdemographicmodeling,understanding,particularly,thepreferencesoffirsttimevoters,seniors,the
lesswelleducatedandruralpoorwherethereispoorerinternetcoverage.Theyhadabettersenseofabstentionratesandconstantlywereadjustingtheirestimationsfor
voterturnoutbasedonevidenceofrisingenthusiasm.TheyalsohadtheadvantageinlearningfromthemistakesofpollsterswholargelyfailedinpredictingBrexitorthe
Trumpvictory.TheysawhowbadlypollstersunderestimatedTrumpssupportinrustbeltstates.

Pollsterspredictionsonthefirstroundwereallwithinonepercentagepointorsooftheactualresult.

PredictionsfortheLast48Hours
GovBrainstrendmeterhadMacronleadingLePenbefore,during,andafterthePresidentialdebate.ThiswasbasedonfivehourlyreadingsonWednesday.LePen
recoveredfromthestingofthedebateandimprovedthroughoutthedayonThursday,butnotenoughtocutintoMacronslead.LePenfailedtobuildonhermomentumfrom

theweekendandlosingthedebatedidnothelp.Shemayhavecuttheleaddownto15pointsMondaymorning,however,theleadisbackupto18to20pointspostdebate,
accordingtothetrendmeterThursday.

"Accordingto[GovBrain's]trendmeter,MacronsbiggestleadwasonTuesdayafternoon,April25.

ItisdifficulttoseeapathtovictoryforLePen,accordingtoGovBrain.ThefirmbelievesMacronshandlerswillurgehimtorefrainfromanycontroversialcomments.Hewill
likelyonlyappearinfrontofhandpickedsupporters.TheyevenhavetimetoreleaseanadpointingtoMacronssuperiordebateperformance.Plus,theyalreadyannounced
formerUSPresidentBarackObamasendorsementoftheircandidate.ThatleavesLePenscampaignstafftopondertheaftermathofalandslideloss.Theironlychoiceisto
energizethebaseandmaximizeturnout.

GovBrainofferedthisanalysisontheelection:

Thisraceisaboutgeographyandregionalism.Bothcandidatesfaceadividedpoliticalmap.Duringthefirstround,LePendidpoorlyinParisandParisremainsher
biggestproblem.ShealsounderperformedinWestern,Southwestern,andSouthCentralFrance.ShemustdobetterincitiesinthoseregionssuchasRennes,Nantes,
Poitiers,Toulouse,andBordeaux.LePenneedstoholdfinalralliesandfocusgrassrootseffortsinurbanneighborhoodswithhighunemployment.Lackofeconomic
opportunityisthenumberoneissueformanyofhervoters.Sincesheisoperatingsofarbehind,shewillhavetotakesomeriskswithhermessagingandthatcouldbea
opportunityisthenumberoneissueformanyofhervoters.Sincesheisoperatingsofarbehind,shewillhavetotakesomeriskswithhermessagingandthatcouldbea
difficultselltovoterswhoareplanningtoabstainfromvoting.LePenalreadypulledastuntlastWednesdaybyshowingupatthesamecampaigneventasMacron.Our
datashowedthatthisstuntmayhaveenabledherbestdayonourtrendmeter.Thatsbeenheronlyhighlightduringthesecondround.

Macronjustneedstoconsolidatesupportwhereheisstrongestinthemorecosmopolitancitiesandsuburbsandlockdownbackingfromtheurbanintelligentsia.He
doesnthavetoexpandhispoliticalmaporchangehismessage.Hecancontinuetooperateasthevoiceofreasoninanuncertainworldamessagethathasservedhim
wellsofar.AnotherspectacularterrorattackinFrancecouldgivecitizensincreaseddoubtaboutMacronsexperiencelevelandhurthimintheupcominglegislative
electionsshouldhewinthesecondroundasexpected.

Predataspostdebateanalysis(https://medium.com/@predata/lepenfailstolandaknockoutblow69072d85d24d)foundthattheliveshowdownbetweenthetwo
candidatesisnotlikelytoaffectthefinaloutcome.PredatassignalsdontshowsufficientdigitalmomentumforLePenthatwethinkthepollsarewronginpointingtoa
Macronvictory,buttheydosuggestthefinaloutcomemightbecloserthanthe60%40%splitthatmostpollscontinuetoshow.

PredataalsodeterminedthatLePendidenjoydigitaldominance(https://medium.com/@predata/lepenfailstolandaknockoutblow69072d85d24d)insomegeographical
swingregionsandthatlowturnoutwillnothelphermakeupmuchdistance.However,LePenactuallyscoredbetterthanMacronbasedonTwitteractivityandWikipedia
searchesthisweek.WhenYouTubewasadded,Macrondartedbackintothelead,accordingtoPredata.

PredatabelievesthatLePencouldclosethegapinthecomingdaystoavoida20pointloss.ThefuriousintensitywithwhichLePenslocalrepresentativesarecontinuingto
broadcasthermessageinthesepartsofthecountry,andthecomparativelylackadaisicalpaceofmessagingfromMacronscamp,createssomebasistosuspectthepolls
maybeunderestimatingLePenstruelevelsofsecondroundsupport.

Polls
ItisdifficulttofindapollthathasnotpredictedablowoutwinforMacron.OnThursday,apollaggregation(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/frenchelectionlatestpolls
oddstracker/)byTheTelegraphUKhadMacronwinning61.2%to38.9%.TheCevipof/Ipsos/SopraSteriapoll(http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/799314/French
electionpollsLATESTupdatespolltrackerMarineLePenEmmanuelMacron)hasMacronup18points.HarrisInteractivehasit61percentto39percentaswell.
OpinionWay(http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/799314/FrenchelectionpollsLATESTupdatespolltrackerMarineLePenEmmanuelMacron)saidLePentrailsby20
points.

BrentM.Eastwood,PhDistheFounderandCEOofGovBrainIncthatpredictsworldeventsusingmachinelearning,artificialintelligence,naturallanguageprocessing,and
datascience.Heisaformermilitaryofficerandawardwinningeconomicforecaster.Brenthasfoundedandledcompaniesinsectorssuchasbiometricsandimmersive
video.HeisalsoaProfessorialLectureratTheGeorgeWashingtonUniversity'sElliottSchoolofInternationalAffairs.

MathewBurrowsisdirectoroftheForesight,Strategy,andRisksIniativeintheAtlanticCouncil'sBrentScowcroftCenteronInternationalSecurity.
Europe(/regions/europe) France(/regions/europe/westerneurope/france) StrategicForesightInitiative(/component/tags/tag/90strategicforesightinitiative)

BrentScowcroftCenteronInternationalSecurity(/component/tags/tag/100brentscowcroftcenteroninternationalsecurity) MathewJ.Burrows(/people/mathewjburrows)

(/blogs/futuresource/thepredictiongamedatasciencefirmsvspollstersonsundaysfrenchpresidentialelection?tmpl=component&print=1)

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