French presidential election: How the polls finally got it right in calling the tight race for Macron and Le Pen

Ashley Kirk
Pollsters were right in calling Macron as the winner to face Le Pen in the second round - REUTERS

Pollsters have taken a beating in recent elections after failing to see voters turning to the anti-establishment movements of Brexit and Donald Trump

But the French presidential election has seen them partially vindicated after they correctly predicted that Emmanuel Macron would win the first round of the French presidential election

Not only have they predicted the winner, but they also correctly said that he would face Le Pen in the second round - both within 0.6 points of the actual results.

How the polls compared to the actual vote share

TheTelegraph's poll tracker followed the race as it progressed, taking an average of the last eight national polls for the first round of the presidency.

Its final count had centrist Macron on 24 per cent and far-right leader Le Pen on 22.1 per cent. The other two significant candidates, Fillon and Mélenchon, had 19.6 and 18.9 per cent respectively.

This was almost exactly how the French election voted - with it estimating the four candidates' vote shares by less than 0.9 points in all cases.

Some 23.8 per cent of French voters backed Macron, the former protégé of François Hollande - compared to 21.5 per cent for far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

This was only 0.2 and 0.6 percentage points off the two candidates' scores, respectively.

French presidential election polling

Not only that, but the pollsters also managed to predict the order of the next three candidates in the first round of voting - Fillon, Mélenchon and Hamon - which is impressive considering how close the race was.

The Telegraph's last polling average - which looks at the last eight national polls - was off by 0.3 point for Fillon and 0.7 points for Mélenchon.

Overall, the last average slightly overestimated Macron, Le Pen and Hamon, at the expense of Fillon and Mélenchon. But with none of these estimations out by more than one point, they are well within the margin of error. 

Such a performance by the French pollsters will have done their bit in partially restoring the public's faith in polling. 

Macron is now the bookies' favourite to become president, with the polls showing him considerably ahead of Le Pen in the second round. 

French election 2017 results map

How our poll tracker worked

Our poll tracker takes in national polls from OpinionWay, Ifop-Fiducial, Elabe, Harris and BVA Interactive.

Their individual polls, while of different sample sizes, took in a representative sample. Their individual margin of errors vary from +/-0.8 per cent to +/-3.3 per cent. 

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