Why Kaleida’s data says Le Pen will win

If sharing of media coverage is in fact an indicator of real effects in the real world then either Mélenchon or Macron will face Le Pen in the 2nd round. And they will lose.

We noticed interesting patterns in our data after Brexit that were reflected again in the US election. It’s not media coverage that affects change. And it’s not what people say on Facebook. It’s the intersection of the two — how people respond to media coverage.

We saw similar correlations when we looked at coverage of public companies and changes in stock price, though, of course, there is a long list of caveats propping up this idea still. The biggest caveat in terms of the French Election is that we’re not tracking French news sources.

But the data tells a fascinating story even though the science is not yet fully formed.

Since the beginning of 2017 the leading US and UK news orgs have been covering Marine Le Pen the most. 636 articles (40%) have been about her, 470 articles (30%) about François Fillon and 330 (21%) about Emmanuel Macron.

With so much media attention focused on Le Pen she is obviously going to dominate how coverage about the candidates is shared on Facebook. In fact, articles about Le Pen have earned 70% of all shares of coverage about the candidates with 26% split between Fillon and Macron.

The crazy February spike that included a ‘Fake Jobs’ scandal, a fraud probe, and police raiding the Front National offices increased the volume for all values but didn’t seem to skew the percentages all that much.

However, there are two signals that indicate a window is open for a challenger. The rate of sharing and sentiment both put a qualitative lens on these numbers.

Stories about Jean-Luc Mélenchon have recently been shared at a significantly higher rate than all the other candidates combined. He’s only received about 6% of all the coverage from the US and UK media, but those stories have travelled very successfully. At 1,200 shares per article on average vs 730 for all stories about the candidates the Mélenchon stories have been performing 50% better than Le Pen’s coverage since the beginning of March.

Another interesting fact: Mélenchon coverage has been promoted on the front pages of those publishers’ web sites only about 1,000 hours vs Le Pen’s 13,500 hours. In other words, readers have disproportionately embraced Mélenchon vs the amount of coverage and the effort used to promote that coverage.

In contrast, Fillon has been on a steady decline since February in all the areas we track. The amount of negative coverage about Fillon is striking, and the more that coverage gets shared the worse Fillon’s position becomes.

Le Pen, on the other hand, is getting more and more coverage with slightly more positive than negative sentiment.

Clearly, Le Pen is winning in the US and UK media markets for reasons that have nothing to do with the French.

Mainstream media is stuck between voicing the concerns of the people and amplifying the messages of the populists. That and the addictive nature of web site traffic that populist voices hand to them on a plate make it hard for publishers to resist being a player in the game. Le Pen is Brexit. Le Pen is Trump.

It’s as if a formula has emerged or a kind of perfect storm.

There are indicators that people see through this now. Macron and Mélenchon have both been climbing in recent weeks at astonishing rates. Shares of coverage about Mélenchon actually eclipsed Le Pen for the first time since we began tracking coverage of the candidates.

If the patterns we’re tracking are in fact interrelated with real world events then those trends are too little too late. The volume of both the coverage and the amount of sharing of that coverage by readers supports a win by Le Pen no matter who challenges her in the 2nd round. By these measures Mélenchon is the only one who stands a chance.