France - Marine Le Pen’s New 'RN' Party Continues To Puzzle Pollsters

Once considered the favourite for the upcoming European Elections in the autumn polls, the far-right Rassemblement National party of Marine Le Pen is now predicted to finish in 2nd place with 20% of votes, behind Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche, as reported today by Euractiv.

However, predicting the far-right party’s results is no easy task. They have been systematically overestimated by the polls at the five most recent elections, by around 2 percent, every time. Scarred by the 2002 presidential election, when Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie finished a surprise second, pollsters have long corrected their assessment of far-right votes.

Alexandre Andorra, from PollsPosition, said ...
We’re a very long way away from far-right being underestimated, which traumatised pollsters at the 2002 presidential election. In fact, the opposite is true: polls now systematically overestimate the far-right.
Voting for the far-right was considered such a taboo at the time that respondents did not dare admit their voting preferences to pollsters. But this is no longer the case: French people do not hide who they vote for anymore.
So why do pollsters continue to systematically overestimate voting intentions for the RN?
This may be because pollsters know they’ll be criticised for underestimating the RN, but not for overestimating it, which may introduce a bias.
Another explanation could be related to the rate of abstention. There is always a degree of uncertainty associated with abstention, especially for the European elections. Only 42% of French people voted at the last elections in 2014, and 2019 is not expected to be much different.

In case of high turnout, it is the established socialist, conservative and centrist parties that are expected to benefit.

This may be another reason to be less engaged with polls, which are too often seen as predictive tools.

Alexandre called for a more considered approach to polls, which are often taken as gospel in France, with each new poll replacing the last one.

For Marine Le Pen, she has a long history of calling 'success' at every election - regardless of the results, usually claiming 'it's more support than we had hoped'. Which is why she is always silent, pre-electionm on her vote support hopes, and what constitutes 'electoral success' in her eyes.

And she is silent now.

Marine Le Pen - Silent