KarnatakaElections: Cfore 3rd Tracker. Race Slightly Tightens. Congress still comfortably ahead

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Cfore 3rd Tracker has now been published.  The survey was undertaken after candidate selection was carried out by all parties. Around 6,247 voters from various castes, religion and communities were interviewed. Cfore claims  that the study commands a confidence level of 95 percent with a 2 percent margin of error.

As seen below, the overall vote shares of their second and third tracker polls do not differ significantly. The Congress, slips around 2%, the BJP gains 1% and JDS 2% from their last tracker poll. The Congress however remain very much in pole position maintaining a 13% lead over the BJP.

The overall seat prediction also  does not change very much - Congress: 118-128 BJP: 63-73 JDS: 29-36 Others: 2-7.

At the regional level, except for Old Mysuru, changes are also  found mostly minor. 


The Congress widens their lead in the Mumbai-Karnataka from 3% to 5%. Presumably this is because of the Lingayat exodus from the BJP to the Congress and Mayadayi  River issues that are working to their advantage

In the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, the BJP makes a gain of 2% from the Congress. However, the Congress lead of a whopping 9% ensures that there is no significant changes at the seat share level.

In the Central region, the BJP remain static at 45%, the Congress loses 1% vote share to the JDS, but seat projections remain almost unchanged

The Coastal Region like the Central Region sees practically no evidence of major churning.

In Bangalore, here again we see almost status quo being maintained except for a 1% loss by the Congress to the JDS.

It's really in Old Mysuru Region where we are witnessing  any evidence of statistically significant churning. The Congress loses 5% to the JDS, but nevertheless the Congress still maintaining a whopping overall 8% lead over the JDS.

So what's happening in Old Mysuru?  Let's first take a look at the 2013 Assembly & 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Despite the Modi Wave in 2014, the Congress did very well to completely dominate the region, demonstrating a whopping swing of 9%.  Vote Share wise, the party is in fact currently performing even slightly better than their 2014 Lok Sabha performance with  the BJP & JDS stuck at their 2013Assembly individual showing.

Looking at seat shares, the INC led in 34 Assembly segments of the Old Mysuru Region in 2014. The Cfore 3rd track suggests that they now just marginally performing weakerthan this. The JDS appears to be the real gainer from 2014, with a projected increase of 11 seats. Their overall projected 26 seats is marginally better than their 2013 Assembly showing. The BJP is big loser from 2014, losing half their seat shares. Others too are expected to do much better than their 2014 showing but marginally worse than their 2013 Assembly performance.


BJP: The escalating Yeddy-Shah factional battles within the BJP has apparently taken a huge internal toll, with their campaign almost totally thrown off gear which now clearly appears directionless and devoid of energy. This Karnataka campaign of the BJP is probably the worst run we have seen in the recent times. It's almost as if there are two different campaigns - one by Yedduruppa and the other led by Shah.

The BJP even managed to alienate their core constituency - the Lingayats Read HERE. The ticket distribution was carried on the basis of a seat sharing formula almost like those within an alliance - Yedurruppa's erstwhile Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), Sriramulu's BSR Congress and Shah's Modi BJP with Yeduruppa cornering the overwhelming majority of the seats. This has left many BJP loyalists and RSS workers disgruntled, taking a toll on campaign energy and motivation. A chunk of disillusioned BJP voters may not even vote or prefer opting for NOTA. 

Under the circumstance, there is a high risk that the BJP may even end under-performing both their projected Vote & Seat shares as per Cfore's third tracking survey. Though it is highly unlikely that Modi's last stretch campaign can turn things around for the BJP, it is very possible that Modi may shore up BJP's declining fortune and prevent the party from further fall from here.

JDS: At this stage of the race, the JDS looks as if they would decisively fail their billing as Kingmaker. For the JDS, this elections is essentially a matter of existential challenge. The Cfore third track suggest  the JDS is most  likely to splendidly  rebound to some what near their 2013 Assembly showing.

In 2014, the JDS was reduced to just 11% - their worst ever performance.  Under the circumstances, rebounding to 17-18% levels should be quite a relief to JDS. What should be disappointing to the JDS is that except for the Old Mysuru Region, the party has not been able to significantly show any signals of revival in other regions of the state. Even in the Old Mysuru Region, they may have to play second fiddle to the Congress in terms of political influence. It is widely expected that the Congress  will now go whole hog in painting JDS as BJP's BTeam during the last stretch of the campaign. If so, the JDS may find its vote share dropping to 15-16% levels.

Till now, the media and pre-polls have been hyping up the image a very resurgent JDS, expected to cut into the Congress vote share on one hand and entering into a tacit understanding with BJP on the other hand, boosting up the BJP in the bargain. The much hyped JDS-BSP alliance apparently failed to provide the JDS the much needed buoyancy to breach the 20% threshold as most pre-polls indicated they would crossed. Rallies jointly led by former Prime Minister Dev Gowda, former Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and Mayawati of BSP so far are attracting sparse crowds. BJP's hopes of JDS-BSP cutting into secular votes of the Congress, particularly Muslims and Dalits apparently have come crashing down. Consolidation of Vokkaligas around the JDS is giving further propelling  a counter reaction - consolidation of Lingayat votes around the Congress. 

Congress: The party is steadily clinging on to its pole position. We need to see whether the Congress from this stage can step up the accelerator in the next 12 days in order to further scale up their seat tally. So what would their game plan if they did? The the following could be the strategic pathways they would opt:

1. Weaken JDS by engineering defections of their booth level workers on one hand and on the other hand through exposing the tacit understanding between JDS and BJP, consolidate secular votes around the Congress. If they succeed, this would strengthen Congress prospects particularly in the Old Mysuru, Coastal-Karnataka,  Hyderabad-Karnataka regions apart from Bangalore

2. Clean sweep both Hyderabad-Karnataka & Mumbai-Karnataka. While the Congress is already in an excellent position to accomplish this objective in Hyderabad-Karnataka, they would need an additional push in Mumbai-Karnataka. During the last stretch of the campaign, Congress heavy weights - Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Jyothiraditya Scindia - are expected to descend into Mumbai-Karnataka in an attempt to storm the region which they feel is ripe to be wrested away from the BJP even more decisively.

3. Target 3-4 marginal seats enabling Congress to scale to 20+ seats (out of 28 seats) in Bangalore. On one hand, the likes of Shashi Tharoor would be unleashed in a charm offensive targeting the middle class youth and professionals. On the other hand, the Congress hopes to increase their vote share by eroding particularly minority votes of the JDS. 

4. In Central Karnataka where the Congress is trailing the BJP decisively, they hope to marginally improve their seat prospects by default. Here BJP looks highly vulnerable to loss of seats due to internal sabotage. Cfore hints that some of the big names of BJP are in danger of falling victims of internecine warfare within the party.

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