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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A technical critique of exit polls

Arun Narendranath, one of the most avid followers of elecoral trends, sent me this email. I am taking the liberty of posting it:

Read ur blog just now. Spot on in saying that four states of AP, Maha, Assam & UP have not been analyzed properly. Lets try and explain the flaws here

Assumption: the voteshare estimates by these TV channels have not been fudged. (though this may not be true).


Let for once assume that vote share given by CNN IBN is correct in the state of AP.

INC: 42%

TDP+: 25 + 5%

PRP: 14%

Now converting the same into regional trends.

In Telanagana it would convert into

INC: 40%

Mahakuttami: 45%

In Costa region:

East & West Godavari districts:

INC: 35%

PRP: 35-40%

TDP: 20-24%

Krishna Districts:

INC: 35%

TDP+: 37-38%

PRP: 27-30%

and finally in Rayalseema:

INC: 55%


TDP: 20-25%

This would translate into the following number of seats:

INC: 15-17



TDP: 12-14

PRP: 3

TDP & TRS will get their seats mostly from the Telangana region. TDP will get the additional seats in Krishna district (seats like Vijayawada, Srikakulam). PRP will do well in Nasarpur, Kakinada. INC will sweep Rayalseema (by huge margins) & win about 20-30% seats in costa & Telangana. This effect has been clearly captured by vernacular media(read the predictions of MAA & Itv, Shakshi is owned by YSR's Son). The attached file will clear show how the English media has completely mis-interpreted when the vernacular media caught the trend.

Bottomline: Even if Mr. Babu is not inclined towards BJP/NDA most of his MPs would be. Because they would be mostly from the Telangana region and would have won the election because of the T-Sentiment. If TDP does not come to NDA its worth buying them with Mr. Badal's money bag.


a) Though UPA can make marginal gains in Vidharba & Maratwada, they will loose seats in Mumbai & Thane, Western Maharashtra.

b) The MNS has done extremely well in 3 seats Thane, Nashik & Mumbai-North East (NCP will win in Thane & Nashik because MNS played the spoiler). Though they polled very well in Mum NE, it is difficult to upset Kirit. The assumption that MNS has damaged NDA across the state is false. Their effect was restricted to 3-4 seats.

c) The most interesting factor the exit polls have missed in Maharashtra was the internal conflict between NCP & INC. There were several rebel candidate in the fray from both INC & NCP. Though NCP was in alliance with INC, all its cadres were sabotaging the prospects of INC candidates and vis-versa. For instance in Pune, Mr. Sharad Pawar was campaigning hard for Mr. Kalmadi but his nephew Mr. Ajit Pawar was indirectly supporting Mr. Anil Shirole of BJP. This is very similar to bradley effect ( The NCP voter pressed the button against the lotus when they claimed they would do so against the hand. The bradley effect will be found in the following seats.

Pune. Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad, Nagpur, Ahmed Nagar (INC sabotaging NCP) and to an extent in Shiradi, Mumbai NC.

Bottomline: Though the voteshare given to UPA is too high, some explaination can be found in bradley effect, that is why Mr. Ashok Chavan & Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh want to go alone in assembly election and the NCP wants to go with SHS or MNS (reports of Mr. pawar calling Uddav in London & Mr. Jayant Patil meeting Mr. Raj Thackery)


Gallagher effect is missed by the media groups. They did the same mistake in Karnataka assembly elections, they are doing so now in the UP electoral trends.

Bottomline: Expect in Phase I & IV of UP polls (were BJP did extremely well across seats), in all other phases BJP has done well only in pockets depending on the candidates. For instance Phase II ( Ambedkar Nagar, Faizabad), Phase III (Kanpur, Balaun) Phase V (Anola, Philibit & to an extent in Moradabad). Usually BJP's vote share is consistent across the state, but not so in this election.

Finally Mr. Mahesh Rangarajan has converted the voteshare of BSP:29%, Sp:23%, BJP+: 21% & INC: 18% into 28, 22, 17 & 13 seats. The difference is that INC has consistently got 15-18% votes across the state peaking at very few places, whereas BJP has seesawed between 30% (winning seats) & 15%(decimated seats). This leads to Gallagher effect and more seats to BJP.


Arun Narendhranath

On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 4:04 PM, Arun Narendhranath wrote:

Two important points ignored by Psephologist

a) Most of the exit polls are converting state wise trends into seats. Expect Tamil Nadu none of the larger states are monolithic in their voting pattern. The classic example is converting higher voteshare of INC in Rayalseema region to seats across AP.

b) Gallagher effect is also missed by the media groups. They did the same mistake in Karnataka assembly elections, they are doing so now in the UP electoral trends.

For more info read about Gallagher Index @

These are the two points you can use while attending TV debates on Exit Polls.


Arun Narendhranath


Return_of_Chanakya said...

Nice article! Same might be true for West Bengal where Channels are predicting 0 to 1 seat for BJP. Although, over all BJP vote share in West Bengal might be not more than 5% in current polarized state, it might get 2-4 seats. Krishnanagar because candidate is strong, Alipurduar because Adivasis have mostly boycotted the election and Nepali vote went to BJP. There is also small chance that Tapan Sikdar might be able to repeat the previous show.

No Mist said...

There is one precaution that should be taken while posting somebody's email in public posts like blogs. One should not expose the senders' email id.

No Mist said...

A precaution : One should not expose somebodys email id while posting their message on a public fora like blog. It exposes them to all sorts of spam.

Anonymous said...

The Gallagher effect also strongly holds for Orissa. NDTV guys seems to be aware of this effect in the sense that their by rote conversion of vote percentages into seats also results in seat numbers that indicate region wise performances of the parties. But this result obtained through mindless conversion of vote percentages into seats is also a very strong indicator of a very large error in the actual conversion of votes into seats since a process that accounts for the Gallagher effect will provide more accurate results . This can also be mentioned if Orissa results are different from what the BJD and the English media expect.

Meek shall inherit the earth said...

NDTV gives 177 to the NDA and 246 (216 UPA and 30 fourth front) to the congress+. Suppose this turns out to be more or less accurate, then wnat ?
Will 246 provide stability to a congress govt? Five more years of congress rule ? And, the left sitting in the opposition? But, Mamata in the govt will not suit the left at all. What are the possible scenarios ?

ramana said...

Excellent article. Thanks for letting us know, that there are very bright folks who analyse data without bias. Love this report.

Thanks again, Swapanda

Vinay said...

Just watch out guys... make sure to not hold Modi's hand... or else MMS will term you communal... Digvijay Singh right now feels Amma is not Communal... but if she supports BJP post 16th, she is Communal...

Vik said...

nice more or less captures why exit polls often go wrong in india where many of our large states are much larger than many counntries and hence it is suicidal to not take regional variations into account

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So is the difference between BJP exit poll and the other polls only attributable to these facts, or are the underlying numbers also different. The reason for asking is that it is conceivable that such factors play to BJP's disadvantage in other states.

zoomindianmedia said...


Facts doctoring prannoy roy repeatedly is using the phrase "advani humiliated".

Someone should tell him that does he consider "badkaa" hosting we the people is humiliation for him.

That is the way to make these "too clever by half" idiots clam up.

Anonymous said...

Should BJP not consider bycotting NDTV+CNN-IBN irrespective of the poll results?

Vishwa said...

one interesting thing i also observed in the ndtv and ibn exit polls were even though the numbers that they showed up(216 vs 177 on ndtv and 185-205 vs 165-185 on ibn) were very much advantage UPA, they kept on making a point which was sort of a disclaimer which said if their is a 1% swing then it could result in 20 seats. Prannoy Roy even after giving those numbers say that BJP is better in forming alliances. So I really doubt if their actual exit poll gave them a different result and whats been shown on TV is manipulated.

Mahesh Prabhu said...


All exit polls will turn wrong and BJP will emerge as the single largest party. My lips are black and i speak truth. My prayers wont go waste.
NDA will emerge as largest pre-poll alliance.

Pranoy roy should be kicked out for humilating Advani. If u come across him on 16th may ,just tell him to go and read My country My life, I am sure Prannoy roy has not done anyting great anchoring news all these years.

Likes of Digvijay singh need to be shown door.He is acting like a great person in Congress. Having a corrupted govt in MP,he is already shown the doors in MP.

Congress will not get more than 130 seats.

Anonymous said...

This is why BJP dosen't deserve power at center. BJP has failed to adapt, evolve and reinvent itself. Look at congress, everyone wrote it off after Narasimha Rao lost, but look how it came back with an idea of inclusive growth and reinvented itself as the most acceptable ally. Congress has two faces, independent of each other, one face is projected to India, it consists of people who are suave, well read and know how to manage media, like, Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee, Abhishek Singhvi, etc. The other face is projected to Bharat and consists of people who appeal to the vote-bank, and give a damn to the media, like Sonia Gandhi.

Compare this to BJP, they reached their peak of evolution in 1998 when they came up with the idea of "Party with a difference" and made little progress since then. Don't you think yhat BJP must cure itself first before expecting to be called to form the government at the center.

zoomindianmedia said...



It is also important for BJP to communicate the morality facet.

In that regard, please compile a list of what BJP spokespersons should articulate and share it as a post:

BJP’s spokespeople should articulate facts to counter Commies/Congis. Certain suggestions:

Addressing Commies:

1. West Bengal No. 1 in following parameters:
a. child mortality rate
b. violence against women
c. girl trafficking

2. Compare the prosperity of Gujarati muslim with the penury of bengali muslim

3. Ridiculing Brinda Karat/Antonia Maino

Clad in expensive sarees, they hardly make any efforts on the ground. They just sit in air-conditioned rooms and compile reports and make noise in the media.

Addressing Congress I (islami-isai) communal politics:

1. 5,000 sikhs butchered in 2 days.
2. Helping SLA butcher 5000 tamils
3. Vote Bank Politics, anti development politics
4. lame duck manmohan
5. foreign connections – black money, bofors quottrochi
7. perpetuating poverty
8. facilitating islamic terror/deceit based xian conversions.

Off the record?
6. how antonia maino locked sitaram kesari in toilet thru minions and illegally took control of congress I (islami-isai)
7. Congress I (islami-isai) lies that its name is Indian National Congress

And many more

Anonymous said...


I see a level of desperation among the Congress, Left and the media to do anything to keep the BJP out of power... post results I think the BJP has to take a more agressive stand... i.e. they have to be part of the Govt come what may...

Scenario 1: (Unlikely) The NDA does exceedingly well and reaches near the 270 mark, then it would be easy to pull in potential allies and close the deal

Scenario 2: (Most likely) The NDA and allies croes 200 mark and needs 4-5 allies to cross the magic figure... this is where I believe that the Left and Congress and media will play dirty... here BJP has to agressively go after and close deals with any prospective ally... and take on the media head on and show them their place...

Scenario 3: (unlikely but possible) The NDA does badly as the Exit polls are showing and end up with 160-170 seats... in this scenario I think the NDA has to offer its full support to any formation that excludes the LEFT and the CONGRESS... we have to call this a NATIONALISTIC STAND and work for a govt headed by an acceptable regional leader and be part of this govt... preferably we should support a regional leader who has stuck with the NDA... maybe Nitish or Sharad yadav ...

Scenario 3 will in my opinion be a major turning point in the history of Indian politics... where we can start paying the LEFT and the CONGRESS in the same coin that they use... in future under most circumstances the BJP will surely have more than 100 seats... thats a large enough chunk to keep out the Commies and the Congress from the corridors of power...

It will also put and end to this SECULAR crap...

Also nobody can blame NDA for putting up a dummy PM because the UPA already has done so...

Siddhu said...

What does Bradley effect have to with this? That seems to be a refence out of context...Bradley effect was voters reporting pollsters that they would vote for an African American when they didnt really intend to, just to be politically correct. I guess, in India, a lot of upper caste people in a village saying they will vote for a Dalit rather than another upper caste person will be similar but, anyway, opposite happens in India where votes for a Dalit/Dalit party like BSP get under-reported in polls than over-reported

Anonymous said...

Last time i had expected a big tally for NDA.This time i am just following very carefully .For sure there will be surprise in this election. Lets see if the world gets a chance to laugh at Comrade N Ram,Congress-spokesprson Pronov Roy and Cong-Party Affair Leader Barkha Datta.