Why exit polls get it wrong all the time
May 19 was special for two reasons; it was the last day of polling in the 7 Phase polling process for the 17th Lok Sabha, it was the day when exit poll predictions were released in the evening.
Polling has concluded, and all attention shifted to exit polls. All poll results point to the BJP-led NDA getting 300 plus seats, in a repeat of 2014, and the Congress and allies around 122. So, what are the chances these are close to accurate predictions?
History reveals no clear answers on the accuracy of exit polls. In some cases, they get it right while in others they can be way off the mark. But it is true they do point to a general trend.
So why is there no correlation between a hit and miss?
The exit poll process outcomes depend upon the sample size of the poll – larger sizes offer more accurate representation. For instance, My Axis poll in 2019 used a sample size of 8 lakh voters. That’s several times larger than the twenty thousand sample size in the earlier poll.
The demographics matter. For example, an exit poll may cover several voters in a set of booths in a specific assembly where most belong to a particular caste. The results will vary if the social mix of the sample spread is diverse and collected from different assemblies.
Local issues matter. Many times voters of a village decide to vote for a particular candidate based on their local concerns. Several samples from the village would not reflect a diverse mix.
Then there is the issue of misinformation. Due to fear or intimidation or even prevailing consensus, a voter may vote other than the expected trend. In such a case, the voter would lie in the exit poll to cover his contrarian vote. It is prevalent among rural voters in India who are either paid or pressured to vote for a particular candidate or party.
Then there are the silent voters. They form a large segment of voters who choose not to reveal who they voted. This segment of the voter is perhaps the biggest reason why actual results vary so drastically from exit poll predictions.
In 2004 general elections, exit polls predicted an NDA winning between 230 and 260 seats. It ended up getting 181 and brought UPA I to power.
Similarly, in 2009, all exit polls predicted UPA getting 205 seats. Actual counting revealed it won 262 seats and completely turned all predictions on its head.
However, in 2014 most polls once again got it wrong. They grossly underestimated the NDA performance. In that election, the predicted range for NDA was between 250 and 280 seats. It won 336 seats.
Therefore, it may be prudent for all to hold their breath and wait for results to unfold once counting begins on 23 May.
Confident Yogi Adityanath removes ally OP Rajbhar from Cabinet
UP CM Yogi Adityanath was waiting for the exit poll results. With broad consensus revealing NDA winning 300 plus seats, a confident CM did not waste any time to expel ally OP Rajbhar from the U.P Cabinet.
OP Rajbhar, president of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party and a leader in the Ekta Manch alliance, has been upset with the Yogi government’s policies and had tendered his resignation in April this year but CM Adityanath did not accept it, keeping the forthcoming polls in mind.
Once it became clear BJP was coming to power in the centre, he has wasted no time in expelling him.
Markets touch record highs on exit poll results
The markets have responded positively to exit polls predicting a massive win for the NDA. Today, the markets went north with Sensex closed the day at a record high at 39,352.67, up 1421.90. Nifty closed at 11,828.25, up 421.10. Expect the markets to correct in case the results end up lower than expected, but the NDA still forms the government.
State BJP moves Governor to ask Congress to prove majority
Coming immediately after the exit poll results, BJP is sensing opportunity in M.P. Gopal Bhargava, Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative assembly, will be approaching the state Governor Anandiben Patel to convene a special session of the assembly to discuss important issues and also to ask the Congress to prove its majority in a floor test.
Of the total 230 seats, Congress holds 114 seats, BJP 109, BSP 2, SP 1, Independents 4.