Ask anybody. Last evening whatever little faith people had on pollsters, mostly evaporated almost totally after watching the slew of exit polls published yesterday. Even Rajdeep Sardesai who anchored one such programme on IndiaToday and Shivam Vij, Dy Editor of HuffPo appeared to have given up on the absurdity viewers were subjected to last night in the name of exit polls.
Most of these polls bandied around seat shares, while only a handful were prepared to give details of their vote shares or survey internals. While it is difficult to undertake a critique of these polls in all 5 states whose assemblies went for election, due to constraints of time, we limit our critique to UP as found below. Time permitting we would try to critique exit polls of other states later today..
To note CVoter is an Exit Poll while both CSDS & Today’s Chankaya (TC) are post polls. As observed from the table, the commonality among the three polling agencies projections is that the main contestants are between SP-Congress combine and BJP, with BSP coming in third position.
The second commonality is the vote share estimation of the SP-Congress Alliance by all the three polling agencies is 32-33%. So a consensus exist that the Alliance is up 2-3% from 2014 and in doing so, demonstrating positive momentum with them.
BSP in 2014 registered a tad less than 20% Accordingly, all three polling agencies acknowledge that BSP too is a net gainer by vote share, with CVoter & CSDS projecting the magnitude around +5% while according to TC, net gains are marginal viz around 0.5%.
The real difference among the polling agencies comes to projections of BJP’s vote share. CVoter & CSDS projects this in the region of 32-33% - this reflects a 10% negative swing from 2014 or in other words, the BJP is experiencing strong negative momentum. The 1.1% difference between CSDS & CVoter is not really statistically significant as it comes within both polls Margin of Error (MoE). Whereas TC projects BJP at 42% - practically no change from 2014 Lok Sabha polls where NDA registered 42.3% So the difference between TC and CDSS-CVoter is basically accounted by TC squeezing BSP & ‘Others’
The TC projections are simply flabbergasting for two major reasons as elaborated below:
1. To reach 240-250 seats, the BJP has to maintain a strike rate of 60%+ for every phase, including the first two phases in Western UP where a very perceptible anti-BJP wave among the Jats was sensed. Further ground reports from different journalists suggest that the constituency level fights were very intense that such strike rates as TC projects would immediately raise suspicions of EVM rigging that would cause huge public uproar over the fairness of the polls.
2. The internals of the TC survey strikes immediately as totally contradictory to the numbers TC projected and have led to widespread suspicion expressed in social media that their numbers had been crudely manipulated.
3. By and large both pre-polls and exit/post polls have tended to over-estimate the BJP and under-estimate the opposition particularly the BSP. Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha insists that the Alliance do not even see BJP crossing 30% vote threshold. Accordingly, a conservative statistical adjustment for treatment of such biases could see the Alliance cruise comfortably pass the finish line with 190+ with BJP trailing far behind at 120 seat levels. See earlier table columns marked in yellow.
Shivam Vij in a totally captivating article today in HuffPo observed “In such an election, the BSP is the X factor. It is the BSP's performance that is the most unpredictable, and the most fortuitous. The more votes the BSP took away, the more it hurt the BJP, though in many places it seemed to be hurting the SP-Congress too.” Read full article HERE.
This blog totally share this view of BSP being the X factor except that we feel the more BSP does well; it tends to more hurt the BJP rather than the Alliance.
Manipur’s is a Congress bastion and the above graph tells you why exactly. Last Saturday, 1st phase of polling encompassing 38 out of the state’s 60 constituencies witnessed a whopping 84% voter turnout. This is a 5% rise from 2012, an all time record. The question is whether this could well symbolise a vote for change, and if so who does it benefit? If no, what alternate is there as explanation to the surge in voter turnout.
Let’s begin how the results of the 2012 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls panned out to understand the politics of Manipur.
So we see the Congress vote is steady around 42%, unaffected by the Modi Wave in 2014. The BJP in 2014 tripled their vote base to almost 12%, However the CPI also almost tripled their vote share to be almost 15% and the National People’s Party (NPP) tripled their vote share to be around 21%. The vote share losers were TMC and NCP.
So what does Pre-Polls predict? There were only 2 carried out by national polling agencies as below.
The CVoter-HuffPo pre-poll is suspiciously fuzzy – a whopping 37% clubbed simply under others, without any desegregation of parties. But to note is they project BJP at 36% and the Congress at 31%.
The Axis-IndiaToday pre-poll even makes more interesting reading. They pegged Congress at 37% - a projected loss of 5% - which is huge! But look at BJP’s vote projection which is most interesting – 40%!!! That’s a whopping 28% increase from 2014! It signals a massive Tsunami Wave for the BJP. Unfortunately, there is hardly an evidence of it from ground reports. So how do we explain this 40%? Most likely Axis-IndiaToday chose to misinform readers. Rather than BJP, it should read NDA. So who are the constituents of NDA? NPP, NPF & LJP? ? If we look at NDA vote shares of both 2012 & 2014 they roughly add up to 37-40% as projected by CVoter-HuffPo and Axis-IndiaToday respectively.
So does it mean that NDA will form the government? Far from it for the following reasons:
a. NPP & NPF are NDA allies in Nagaland but are fighting separately in Manipur – no formal alliance. This means though cumulatively they would chalk up impressive vote shares, NDA vote:seat conversion will be poor as they cut into each other’s votes.
b. NPP is founded by the late PA Sangma, after splitting from the NCP. They do not have the towering figure of Sangma and besides left weak organizationally after the split from NCP.
c. The blockade will help NPF to retain or slightly improve their vote share in the hills. This is because the Naga dominated Hills perceives the Ibobi government increasingly being seen as a “Meitei government”. The Congress suspects that though the NDA has no formal alliance in the hills there is a tacit one, as each constituent is contesting separately. The hills account for 20 seats. Despite this, the Congress is hoping to win 12 of these 20 seats on the basis of Naga vs Non-Naga consolidation. This confidence is based on creation of seven new districts in Manipur, which witnessed BJP and NSCN (IM)’s opposition to it.
d. For the same reasons as (c), the BJP and its constituents like NPP is suspect in the valley that account for 40 seats for being pro-Naga. In the valley, Meiteis are 58% of the population. If you add other non-Nagas, this figure shoots up to over 85%, leaving BJP and NDA allies at a severe disadvantage to win. The Congress dismisses BJP by saying they won’t even reach double digits as opposed to those projected by CVoter-HuffPo & Axis-IndiaToday. The above poster will give a good insight on what degree the BJP is defensive about its pro-Naga tag.
The 38 seats that went to polls during Phase 1 are those in the valley. So it is possible that rather than a vote for change, Meiteis and other non-Nagas may have been emotionally charged to come out to repose faith in the incumbent Congress government. The Congress claimed that they would win 28 out of the 38 seats that already went to polls while the BJP had not given a statement on what they see are their own chances. The Congress hopes to win 12 seats that goes to polls during the 2nd Phase and roughly equal to those seats they hold in the outgoing assembly.The BJP in contrast had not articulated any feedback of their prospects after Phase 1 voting.