Robert Harneis – TDO – (FRANCE) A byproduct of the internet, alternative opinion polls are making their presence felt in the French presidential elections. The orthodox polls have lost credibility for their failure to predict the Brexit vote in the UK and the victory of Donald Trump in the United States. Now internet analysts such as Gov, Multivote, and Filteris are attracting more and more attention. Canadian Filteris notably predicted Trump would beat Hilary Clinton.

Orthodox polls question a defined sample of potential voters and after some adjustments reveal the percentage preferences. The bigger the poll the more reliable the result. They are not only under attack for recent failures but are also suspected of bias resulting from pressure either from owners or big clients. By contrast,Filteris analyses the internet traffic relating to each candidate. They do not ask precise questions or limit the target sample. They claim total independence.

Jérôme Coutard the founder of Filteris explained to RTL ‘we pick up what people think, their opinions (tweets, Facebook commentaries, commentaries on articles and so on) and from this, we analyze how much influence the candidates are having on the social networks and on the web during the electoral period. Using algorithms to synthesize this data we reach a score for each candidate.’ Coutard explains ‘since 2006 these is a direct correlation between the weight of internet traffic relating to a candidate and that candidate’s electoral score. Coutard points to the success of Filteris in predicting Trumps win as well as predicting the unexpected victory of Fillon in the right party primaries.

Never the less Filteris is not infallible. They failed to spot the Benoît Hamon would unexpectedly win the Socialist primary. The mainstream pollsters remain unconvinced. Gaël Sliman President of Odoxa says ‘What you can pick up from the internet and the social networks are interesting trends but they are not representative of the thinking of the totality of the French people.’

Former Prime Minister François Fillon and his supporters particularly appreciate Filteris which shows him reaching the second round with National Front Marine Le Pen. All are agreed that if he gets to the second round he will win the presidency. The classic polls show him third if not fourth and falling at the first hurdle. We shall see who is right on April 23rd.

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