How we are tracking the French election campaign in real time

Opinion polls have had a terrible couple of years. Most people no longer trust them, and almost nobody answers any more when the pollsters ring.

Big data offers an alternative to traditional polling, so today — two months before the French presidential election — Echobox announces the launch of the French Election Tracker (FET), a unique real-time measure of how the French public are following an increasingly dramatic presidential election campaign. Journalists, campaigners and voters — as well as observers abroad — can use the FET to quickly find out which candidate is attracting the most interest from the voters.

Image by poulpy under a Creative Commons licence.

In today’s unsettled, fast-moving world, we need new ways of tracking what the public think about the major political issues of the day. These must go beyond traditional techniques like sampling. New methods of tracking the public mood must also take advantage of the opportunities offered by modern technology to obtain almost instantaneous results.

The FET measures in real time which major candidate attracts the most interest from the French public, based on how frequently news stories about the candidate are being read online. Unlike traditional polls, the FET is updated every single hour, and instead of relying on a small sample of the population the FET aggregates the news consumption behaviour of millions of French internet users.

The FET features the five main candidates in the French presidential election of 2017: François Fillon (Les Républicains), Benoît Hamon (Parti Socialiste), Emmanuel Macron (En Marche), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France Insoumise) and Marine Le Pen (Front National).

Journalists, politicians and the general public can use the FET to quickly assess the current state of the election campaign and to trace a candidate’s fortune over time. Last week, for example, the legal quandaries of Fillon and Le Pen caused interest in them to spike, before Emmanuel Macron’s policy announcements became the focus of the public’s attention.

Anyone is permitted to use the French Election Tracker for personal, commercial or academic purposes. All we ask for is that you mention Echobox with a link back to either the French Election Tracker or our main website and/or add our logo (dark, bright, transparent dark or transparent bright).

For more frequent updates, follow @EchoboxHQ on Twitter. For more about Echobox, go to You can sign up to receive the latest news about the FET and other data showcases here.