The exit polls have proven to be a major disappointment for the Opposition. Most of them have projected a majority for the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Times Now: NDA 306, UPA 132, Others 104
India News: NDA 298, UPA 118, Others 127
Republic: NDA 295-315, UPA 122-125, Others 102-125 (Republic TV has done two exit polls. According to CVoter NDA will get 287, UPA 128, others 127. Jan Ki Baat prediction is: NDA 305, UPA 124, Others 87, Mahagathbandhan 26)
NDTV’s poll of exit polls gives NDA 300, UPA 127 and Others 115
IANS CVOTER: BJP: 236, Congress: 80; NDA: 287 (BJP: 236, BPF: 1, JD(U)+LJP: 20, Shiv Sena: 15, NPP: 1, NDPP: 1, SAD: 1, SPM: 1, AIADMK+: 10, Apna Dal: 1)
Neta-News X: NDA 242, UPA 164, Others 136
News 18-IPSOS: NDA 336, UPA 82, Others 124
ABP-Nielsen: NDA 267, UPA 127, others 148; (BJP 218, Congress 81)
India Today-Axis My India: NDA 339-365, UPA 77-108, Others 69-95
However, some in the opposition are still optimistic and hoping that the results will tell a different story. So before reading their views, let us know few basic important things abut exit polls.
What are exit polls?
An election exit poll is a survey of voters that is conducted immediately after the voting is over. While election opinion polls try to gauge the mood of the nation by asking people who they are likely to vote for, exit polls ask voters which party did they actually vote for. Such polls are conducted by a number of organisations and are considered a handy barometer of what the nation may expect on the day of counting and which party is likely to end up ruling India for the next five years. But it’s important to note that this is, ultimately, just educated crystal-ball-gazing and not necessarily the writing on the wall.
How are exit polls conducted?
Different agencies carry out exit polls in India using several methods, but the basic step remains the same – sampling. Some agencies conduct a random sampling of constituencies while others opt for systematic sampling. The random sampling can be of the electorate as well, covering parameters such as age, sex, caste, region and more.
How accurate are the predictions made in exit polls?
Although many of the recent election results were correctly predicted by exit and opinion polls, there have also been enough misses to remind the public to take the predictions with a pinch of salt. They are, after all, based on representative samples.
To begin with, exit polls often missed the bullseye on the number of seats that winning parties ultimately land. For instance, in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-plus was somewhat accurately predicted to win between 132 and 150 seats but the poll surveys failed to correctly estimate the influence of third force, which got 113 against prediction of as low as 34 and a high of 95 seats.
The biggest miss where exit polls are concerned has to be the 2004 elections. Almost every media organisation and pollster had predicted landslide victory for the ruling NDA alliance led by the BJP and a second term for Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The party, too, was uber confident of its ‘India Shining’ campaign. But all of them got it horribly wrong.
When the election results were announced the NDA was reduced to 189 seats, against predictions of anything between 230 and 275 of the total 543 seats. The Congress-led coalition won 222 and ran a government first with the support of the Left and then the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Times When Exit Polls Failed Miserably!
Although many of the recent election results were correctly predicted by exit and opinion polls, there have also been enough misses to remind the public to take the predictions with a pinch of salt.
The 2009 election was another failure for the exit poll masters. The exit polls suggested an almost equal contest between the ruling UPA and challenger NDA with Nielsen’s survey giving 199 and 197 seats to the two blocs respectively. In the actual results, the UPA won 262 seats and the NDA got 159. With two back-to-back misses, the exercise suffered a heavy loss of credibility.
Exit polls have also taken wrong calls in assembly elections. For instance, in the Bihar Assembly elections in 2015, the contest was between the BJP and a ‘grand alliance’ (mahagathbandhan) formed by arch-rivals Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal – with the Congress as the third pillar. Most of the exit polls predicted a three-digit tally for the BJP-led NDA in the 243-member house. But the final results had the NDA limited to 58 seats while the mahagathbandhan won a comfortable majority with 178 seats in its kitty. Only two out of six exit polls managed to get it right.
Exit polls failed miserably in predicting the massive AAP victory in the Delhi 2015 assembly election.
It remains to be seen if this exercise can repeat the success of the 2014 poll predictions, when all, save one exit poll, had accurately showed the NDA winning majority.
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