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How credible exit polls are: An Analysis
Post exit poll for 2014 General Elections, everybody is sure that Narendra Modi is becoming the next Prime Minister. From social media to electronic and print media, all have simply gone mad in hailing the dream journey of Narendra Modi from a tea seller to the Prime Minister of India. Moreover, majority of people active on social media are expressing happiness realizing that the change they had expected is going to happen.

However as a caution to everyone, can the exit-polls be trusted! Before discussing more let me put exit-poll results of 2004 and 2009 general elections as below.

Exit Poll results of 2004

Agency

BJP+

Congress+

Others

Outlook-MDRA

284

164

94

Aajtak-ORG

248

190

105

NDTV-Indian Express

240

197

110

ZEE-Taleem

249

176

117

Sahara-DRS

270

176

94

Star-CVoter

269

180

132

Official results

189

222

132



Exit Poll results of 2009

Agency

BJP+

Congress+

Others

CNN-IBN

175

195

180

Star News-AC Neilson

197

199

136

Times Now

183

198

162

NDTV

177

216

150

Headline Today

180

191

172

News X

199

191

152

Official result

159

262

79



Above two tables are self explanatory. In 2004 all exit polls indicated about the return of Vajpayee government, whereas the result was contrary. Similarly in 2009 all results indicated that neither UPA nor NDA will get clear mandate, resulting in to the possibility of a third-front government. But the actual results made UPA even stronger!

Thus question is, whether 2014 general election's exit polls are trustable or not? Before making a comment let me tell what exit poll is? Exit poll is an election survey among the voters who just have voted. The sample size is a very important. Sometimes a bigger sample gives wrong result whereas at times very small sample gives accurate results. In western countries generally the diversity among voters is less. Hence conversion from voter percentage to seat projection is very easy there and generally their prediction comes correct.

In India although Psephologists are generally right on voting percentage but make error while converting it into seat projection. The western method fails here because of huge diversity among nature, ideology, attitude, loyalty etc among the Indian voters. Here along with sample size, the political position, voters turn out, type of under-current etc are also to be considered as a factor.

For example, in 2004 definitely there was a strong under-current in the favour of Vajpayee government. But there was a bad relationship between RSS and BJP because of Vajpayee?s assertion. BJP activists too became over confident and the overall voters turn out was less (around 57.65%). That made BJP to lose the elections where as the Congress in association with the Left Front formed government as UPA-1!

Similarly in 2009, again the voter's turn out was less (56.97%). Manmohan Singh had an undercurrent in his favour, Advani appeared to be a weak leader and confusing one, his comments on Jinnah made him quite unpopular among the party cadres and also his attack on Manmohan Singh as a weak Prime Minister was not accepted by the middle class. These were the factors not considered by the psephologists and the expected that neither UPA nor NDA would get the mandate.

Thus should we discard the present exit poll results? I would say before discarding let's examine the exit poll results of 1998 and 1999 general elections.

Exit Poll results of 1998

Agency

BJP+

Congress+

NF+LF

Others

Outlook-AC Neilson

238

149

123

33

DRS

249

155

102

37

Front Line-CMS

230

150

110

42

India Today-CSDS

214

164

127

38

Official result

252

166

96

23



Exit Poll results of 1999

Agency

BJP+

Congress+

Others

India Today-Insight

334

139

60

Pioneer-RDI

316

145

85

HT-AC Neilson

300

198

162

Outlook-CMS

324

140

36

Times Poll-DRS

332

138

-

Official result

296

134

113



In both the exit-poll results, although psephologists couldn't make their numbers right but they gave the correct trend. These were experiment times for psephologists. In 1998 they over-estimated NF-LF despite the failures but exactly sensed BJP's surge and Congress's weak condition. Two other aspects although not considered by them had helped them to predict the trend correctly. First is the voters turnout in 1998 was 61.97% and both BJP and RSS worked in tandem on the field.

In 1999 they really identified the pro-Vajpayee under-current. First there was sympathy for the NDA government after they were defeated by one just vote in the parliament and then the victory in Kargil war. The Congress too were facing internal problems as Sharad Pawar-led NCP deserted the Congress. The two aspects of 1998 too worked. The voter turnout was 59.99% and not to forget that RSS and BJP were working in tandem for the BJP government.

Thus from the above it's clear that exit-polls can give a definite trend if the voter turnout is more (60% or more), factor considered on how the ground work is done by the parties, what is the direction of under-current etc. In this election the turnout is the highest in the history of Parliamentary elections (66.38%). There is a strong pro-Modi under-current as well as anti-UPA under-current.

The RSS and BJP workers worked hard and in tandem with each other at the ground. The Congress leaders and workers also accepted defeat before the election as workers were not so spirited. Many senior Congress leaders too opted not to contest the elections.

Thus I think the above factors are considered by Psephologists this time. However there is a gap of 91 seats between seat projection made in favor of NDA by the two exit polls. Times Now gave NDA 249 seats where as News24-Chanakya gave it 340 seats. Thus I am damn sure that this exit-poll too wouldn?t be right on numbers, but like 1998 and 1999 they would be right on the trend that this election is advantage NDA!


Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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