'Averages’ are misleading and dangerous

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by: Dick Stroud

The French have just had their presidential election that was won by Sarkozy by a 53% share of the votes. Sarkozy is a man of the ‘right’ – the loser, Ségolène Royal, is of the ‘left’ – if such political descriptors have any meaning.

Ipsos, the research company, has analyzed how the vote split on the basis of gender, age, geography and employment status.

This analysis gives an amazing insight into French society and lessons that all politicians should consider – particularly politicians in the UK.

The French population aged 18-59 year olds – those who work and pay most of the taxes – overwhelmingly voted for Ségolène Royal, the defeated Socialist candidate.

Mr. Sarkozy is now the president of France as a result of an extraordinary degree of homogenous political preferences by pensioners. Mr. Sarkozy won an unbelievable 68% amongst the 70-plus and 61% among the 60-69 year olds. Mr. Sarkozy also did well in the 25-34 age group, where he won with a vote of 57%.

Ségolène Royal won among students, public-sector employees, blue-collar workers and the unemployed. Mr. Sarkozy won among private-sector employees, small businessmen, professionals, farmers and the managerial classes. He won an absolute landslide – 82% among shop-keepers and small business people.

This looks to me like a country with very different generational priorities and preferences and does not bode well for a harmonious presidency. It also shows that an average tells us absolutely nothing – forget that at your peril.

This is a link to the ipsos data and a good article about the voting patterns in the Independent.

Original Post: http://www.20plus30.com/blog/2007/05/averages-are-misleading-and-dangerous.html