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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Exit polls confusion

The spate of exit polls and post polls have only deepened the confusion over the political future of India. Exit polls, unfortunately, don't have a healthy track record. They have erred even in small states such as Gujarat, Karnataka and Punjab.

However, even if we assume that pollsters have been more diligent on this occasion, there are some concerns.

Following delimitation of constituencies, there is no base figure for the pollsters. This can lead to projection errors, even if we assume that the sampling exercise is in order.

The important thing is to look at broad trends and the direction of the vote rather than the seat projections. Now, all the pollsters are clear that the Congress will do well in Kerala, Orissa, Delhi and Punjab. They are equally clear that the BJP has the upper hand in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Orissa.

The Uttar Pradesh situation is, at the best of times, confused. It is a nightmare trying to predict seats on the basis of four and five cornered fights. We should just note that both BJP and Congress appear to have done well. The Congress has been bolstered by Muslim bloc voting in its favour in Phase Five.

We should wait till Saturday to find out how the trends have translated into results.

But there are four states where there is no agreement among pollsters over the direction of the vote. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

In all these four states, NDTV and CNN-IBN have been extremely generous to the Congress. They see the popular mood in its favour. In Tamil Nadu, they see a halfway divide.

These are contentious conclusions and go against the grain of other polls. I expect the Congress to lose seats in all these four states.

If NDTV and CNN-IBN are right, the Congress and UPA emerge on top. If they are even half off the mark, the advantage shifts to the BJP and NDA.

I thank the pollsters for keeping the interest in the real vote intact. We should be glued to the TV from 8am. We should be able to gauge the trends by 10.30 am and know the outcome by 2.30pm.

I am going to be busy with TV and my commissioned articles that day. No blogs till late night.


Arun Jaitley regalled some of us with a very funny anecdote about opinion polls.

During the Punjab Assembly polls of 2007, he was quite disturbed by the fact that there was such a striking mismatch between his private assessments and the opinion polls. His polls suggested a clear BJP-Akali advantage while the familiar pundits gave the Congress a clear 5 per cent lead (which they brought down to a 1 per cent lead in the exit polls).

Finally, he was thrilled to see a poll in a Punjab paper which gave a small lead to the NDA. He expressed his happiness about it to a senior Akali leader.

"Yes, you should be happy," replied the earthy politician, "I spent one crore organising it."


SM-BLR said...

I think that the pollsters should do a sensitivity analysis. We did at our b-school. It would give an indication of what can happen if the top 3 factors are proved wrong. Not only that, they can also qualify the likelihood of them happening. Taking exit-poll by CNN-IBN to illustrate my point: It assumes that Congress will do well in AP and will 20-25 seats. The analysis should implore the impact if it were to go down to say 10-15. To supplement the argument, also let us know what is the likelihood of that happening.

Deepak said...

Swapan da, it was really irrtating to watch the pundits reel out their numbers, as though this was the final results. I hope the NDA gets 200+, if not for anything, atleast to watch the superlicious grin being wiped out from the faces of Messrs.Sagarika, Arnab and Prannoy.

Anonymous said...

I think the exit polls have made major mistakes in TN and MH... UPA will perform badly in both these places...

Even Assam I think will see NDA come through

While AP is not clear and is going to be the real decider... will the PRP split actually help the Congress? or did the PRP take away the congress votes... this is unknown


Ha ha ha - trust the Surds to throw a funny one even in the most "serious" situations. I wondered though - do I see a glint of sadness everytime Rajdeep Sardesai has to say - Modi is leading / winning in Gujarat - by a better margin than last time !!!

Mithun said...

I just cant understand the purpose of having exit polls just 2 days before the counting..
And than add to it all the useless discussions of govt formation on it.

Anonymous said...

If Congress rises to the front in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Assam, then by extrapolation it will cross 2oo onits own. Are the pollsters so loony ? :D

Mahesh Prabhu said...


thanks for ur blog is really confusing trend going by the Tv exit polls yesterday. I totally agree with you that Congress will do badly in four states u mentioned above.

Best thing is to wait till 8 am 16th may and hope that NDA makes.

Hoping for the hope to turn into reality.

Life moves on,but our passion to make BJP govt come to the center wont turn off.

Mahesh Prabhu

Rider on the Storm said...

I think a lot of these exit pollsters are Pro-Congress. It's ridiculous that they think that Congress will not only repeat it's 2004 performance but also go on to win more seats than it's 2004 tally. With so much anti-incumbency in several states, it's quite a task to achieve that. They have always been wrong and I (and I am sure, you and many others) are hoping that they are wrong like always.

Rider on the Storm said...

I think most exit polls are biased towards the Congress. May 16th will throw a complete surprise. People who have written off political obituaries will be forced to eat crow. It's NDA time folks! Lets celebrate the return of a good mix of right wing economics + sensible government formation. Who will be Home Minister, any guesses? Arun Jaitley?

Anonymous said...

the post-scipt takes the cake.

Blitz said...

Swapan da,

U have hit the nail on the head. While the biased media has tried to project itself as 'impartial', people can see right through their lies.
They have indeed conceded victory to NDA in states like Guj,MP etc, but in states like Maharashtra,AP and TN where the the congress is taking a disastrous hit, they are projecting the congress holding its own.
This lie will fall flat on their face (as usual)

Anonymous said...

Dear Swapanda,

On 16th, if Maharashtra dumps congress, and if you happen to be in any NDTV discussion panel, please do expose Prannoy Roy's dirty tricks, in front of everyone. Just ask them to concede that they have been acting as congress agents. We have no problem they supporting congress, but then they should concede that publicly! They can't pretend to be neutral and push such congress publicity materials in the name of "opinions" and exit polls
(same applies to Andhra for example)

Anonymous said...

i think the last line says it all....i belong from maharashtra nd i think it will b 26-22 in favour of nda.....nda doing very well in mumbai thane pune belt and der was lot of infightin among congress and ncp to the extent that vilasrao deshmukh has suggested to go alone in next assembly elections.....also i think in UP bjp will get 20-22 and rld will get 3....these two are the states where there is mismatch between various pollsters....i hope they prove wrong again.....nda has to get atleast 200 for forming a govt and if they get 220 then even mayawati is not required.

zoomindianmedia said...

400 Crores will surely make dr. prannoy roy and dr. yoginder yadav merrily doctor facts.

Now I understand why HMV had dog as its logo.

technology will extinctify these dinosaurs..

I, Me, Myself ! said...

Political untouchablity is rampantly practised in our country, and that will be main reason why NDA cannot come to power. I think all those leaders who are speaking loftly about not supporting a COngress government will ultimately choose to support it so as to keep the "communal" forces at bay.

I think the election will be a close call, and the third front will end up destabilising the country in a couple of years from now.

I wish UPA doesn't come into power, but alas that is what is going to happen.

I, Me, Myself ! said...

Political untouchablity is rampantly practised in our country, and that will be main reason why NDA cannot come to power. I think all those leaders who are speaking loftly about not supporting a COngress government will ultimately choose to support it so as to keep the "communal" forces at bay.

I think the election will be a close call, and the third front will end up destabilising the country in a couple of years from now.

I wish UPA doesn't come into power, but alas that is what is going to happen.

Ajay said...

Your post script condenses entire Indian media in one paragraph.

May 16th, everything the paid media slaves parroted, and them they can get back to BJP bashing for one thing or the other,

Ram said...

Swapan Da,

Interesting read. Especially the post-script. I have a feeling that spending lot of money trying to create favourable opinion polls might work against a party. We have a concept in Information Technology industry. Do not automate a wrong and faulty business process. It will expedite the collapse of the business. If there is a general dis-satisfaction about a particular govt or party among public, that party or govt spending lot of money to shore up the opinion polls in their favour will boomarang as most of those disgruntled voters who may otherwise have not exercised their franchise will make it a point to vote the govt or the party out. Its just a contrarian view of mine. Your comments please...

Ram, London

Anonymous said...

My own view is that it is a close election in the bottom-up, state-by-state part of the contest, but that the UPA has effectively blunted the NDA charge at the national issues level, be it terrorism, economic slowdown or weak leadership.

Given that LKA lacks ABV's national stature and that MMS+SG do not have strong negatives among voters (other than a particular segment well-represented on the internet), I think the UPA may have a stronger lead than the polls predict.

Alternatively, one could argue that these factors have helped them defend their tally at a time of great vulnerability. Net result either way is a UPA advantage.

Anonymous said...

I dont understand why give money for Exit polls?

Mithun said...

I cant understand what is the need for an exit poll just 2 days before counting.
And add to that all the useless talk about govt formation on all channels

Return_of_Chanakya said...

Swapan da,
regarding your postcript: Would not it be better to expose such a news paper? Ok, I know that almost every news channels have agenda or financial motive in such thing, but if these things do not go out in open how they will improve at all?

robin said...

Next PM is going to be A K Antony as per intelligence sources as he is acceptable to left.So far the PM had to be acceptable to Sonia only.Now he has to be acceptable to Sonia and left. God save India

theprudentindian said...

"Yes, you should be happy," replied the earthy politician, "I spent one crore organising it.""


SwapanDa what do these poor guys on TV r supposed to do? They got to justify Padam Shris and Bhushans rewarded to their Editors/owners Na!

Media ke Hamam Mein Sab Nange Hain.‘hamam-mein-sab-nange-hain’-of-course/
(I put this link shamelessly only to augment my argument not to promote my 'communal blog'...please!!!!!!!)

Anyway for a sec even if I excuse media (Sec-Soc MSM) for what they are - with surely few honorable exceptions of course - my heart saddens Dada' since they (MSM) have become a menace than a Guardian of Democracy. Sad! But true nevertheless.

Trust me; I m writhing in pain as I write this but writing nevertheless. I hope you would echo this sentiment somewhere, someplace and voice this humble blogger's agony for the continuous Rape of my Mother India by Dush-Shashans of all hue and variety.


No Mist said...

the most irritating was NDTV. pronnoy used to be the most sophisticated face of indian media ... now he is full of arrogance. his disdain and contempt for the political class clearly shows. his cocksure exit poll is now relayed in installments as if it is the word of God and everybody is waiting with bated breath for their exit poll ... of course no body bothers about the real poll results ... they are so urgghhhh ugly ... pronnoy is the angel and his words are supreme ...

Anonymous said...

The motivation of a TV channel for conducting an exit poll is nothing beyond having an intense discussion based on the projected numbers. So, they really have no incentive for being accurate. I'm sure they would have missed many minor trends; all of which adds up to a major trend against the ruling party.

Anonymous said...

One of the commentators rightly noticed Rajdeep Sardesai's discomfort every time he says Modi is leading.

In the HT leadership summit, Sardesai got away with introducing Narendra modi as a person "some people" would call a mass murderer. (Amazing, since no court in the world has said he is guilty of anything yet.) Then he went on to suggest that Modi is not as English educated as the other mainstream leaders. Isn't that mass murderer jibe enough for a lawsuit against Mr. Sardesai ???

Subsequently Modi competently shut him up with the force of his oratory and gave him the cold shoulder on stage.

Here's that video in 5 parts

Modi will have the last laugh as he sweeps Gujarat once again, and Sardesai will have to stick to his night time screaming during prime time.


parasuram81 said...

I wish the analysis for A.P would come true because,dont wanna be a party-pooper here but from the trends disdussed among telugus here in U.S is that people have voted massively wither in favour or against TDP/INC in respective areas like ur blog mentioned.But the catch here is,most voters who are rural as a rule in both Telengana and coastal areas where the vote is split,there appears to have been heavy cross-voting meaning,PRP for Assembly,INC for Loksabha since people essentially anted YSR out of the state and not necessarily the centre.So while the assembly may still be hung,ominously it may well be true that congress may still end up with 20 odd seats,god forbid.I am just putting a hearsay across.Thanks anyway for ur awesome wit.

Hinduboy said...

I am a die hard nationalist. But if indeed BJP bleeds crucial seats in MP as suggested by NDTV which pegs BJP at 17, a loss of 9 (which good for nothing Kulkarni suggests will be 20+) then it is high time the equally useless Sushma who made a backhand deal with Congress to save her fortunes in Vidisha after running away from Delhi is thrown out of the party

No one has done more damage to the BJP than these people like Rajnath, Sushma et al. If only Jaitley had been made poll manager, BJP would have won at least 20+ seats overall

Now Mr Javedkar and also Advaniji have accepted the diabolical Sachar Committee verdict.

Its a shame how much the BJP will stoop for 5% Muslim vote

Its time for a new Hindu party

Dinesh PC said...

Since the news channels are publishing exit polls just 1-2 before counting (and not before voting), there is no advantage a party/alliance gets except for some sleep and an air of arrogance until the "real poll" results arrive. I wonder why a politician would spend a crore to get a favorable position published in a newspaper!

On the other hand channels would want to get as close as possible to the real picture in order to boast forever (or until they get a poll wrong) about their "predictability" and therefore, "analysis". Since public memory would be fresh enough to know who got it more accurate than others.

A good thing about this BJP team is the grace with which they have conducted themselves. The news are full of random, disparate, conflicting statements being made by innumerable Congress and Third Front leaders. Not the BJP. A report on Headline today referred to Team Advani as the "General with lieutenants". I, for one, got a feel of the disciplined and meticulously planned approach of the BJP - it gave me a feeling that this is a party that is confident and in control of itself.

In the end if the numbers do not favor the BJP, it would be even more graceful of them to sit in the opposition and get back to basics; rebuild to strength in Maharashtra, become formidable in Orissa and gain respect in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh. What they need is good leadership in these states rather than wheeler-dealers such as Venkaiah Naidu. 2014 (or earlier) should be the target with Narendra Modi at the helm.


Anonymous said...

NDTV predicts 216 for UPA and 177 for NDA. UPA plus 4th front bubbles up to 250.
Jai Ho Congress, courtesy Prannoy Roy, Barkha et all.

aru said...

Is there any connection between satta bazar and exit polls?

Sudhir said...


Is there a typo in your post, because you include Orissa in the list of states that will do well for both BJP and Congress. I guess Orissa should not be present in BJP list.

Anonymous said...

"Its time for a new Hindu party"

Bang on. The way BJP is digressing from Hindutva ideology is very painful to bear. We need fearless Hindu party whose "main" aim should be to make India a Hindu Rashtra. Present-day BJP and RSS have become rudderless.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Prathiba... There's every likelihood of SLP becoming the criteria if BJP is not the SLP, or SLA becoming the criteria if NDA is not SLA, or "First come First serve/Bring 272 letters criteria" if BJP/NDA both have more seats.

Please make sure to shoot down these partisan suggestions, which are very much expected in the TV studios on sat'day.

No matter what are the numbers

Wanderer said...

@anon advocating a "Hindu" rashtra,

we need no more of such lunatic ideas. The Indian ethos is still Hindu. Hinduism is not a political system like Islam. The BJP is better served concentrating on what it does best- providing efficient administration and allowing for growth of private enterprise.