Opinion Polls Add to the Confusion in #BiharElections


After dates to Bihar polls have been announced, debate has heated up as to who will win these crucial polls wherein career / prospects / prestige of many leaders like Nitish, Lalu, Modi, Amit Shah are at stake. While Janata alliance has the arithmetic, elections are not all about arithmetic but also about chemistry (my favourite quote). This was repeated and referred to by C Voter founder Yashwant Deshmukh when he released his pre-poll survey results this week “This election is a contest between arithmetic and chemistry.”

As soon as the dates were announced, five major opinion poll survey results have been published in the month of Sep. – India Today / Cicero, India TV / C Voter, ABP / Nielsen, Times Now / C Voter and Zee News. All the polls show that there is neck to neck fight and predict different winners except for Zee News which is predicting a NDA sweep. India Today projects a NDA win while India TV predicts a Janata win (both simple majority). ABP News predicts a Janata alliance win while Zee says that BJP led NDA will easily form the govt. C Voter in less than 1 month has changed its position drastically from a Janata win on 10 Sep. to a hung assembly with NDA leading on 24 Sep. The difference in vote share between the two alliances is 2%-4% in all the polls except Zee (8%).

chart 8

For the first time in Bihar state elections history two alliances are expected to get >=40% vote share. The last time any party / alliance got 40%+ vote share was in 1977 when Janata Party defeated Congress in Lok Sabha as well as many states including Bihar.

Heartening news for NDA from both polls is that while it is expected to increase its vote share to 40%-43% from 39% in Lok Sabha, Janata led alliance is seen losing vote share (down from 45% in Lok Sabha to 40%-43% in all the polls). So the ARITHMETIC is not working clearly.

I am not a big fan of opinion polls (don’t really understand how such a small sample can actually accurately predict the results). Nevertheless they have become an essential component of our electoral process and their calls have sometimes been right and sometimes wrong. So after so much expenditure (money / resources) still not clear who will win. Their estimate is as good as intelligent research and guess estimate of political analysts / commentators.

Politicalbaaba by the way has projected 123-147 seats for NDA depending upon whether there is support on the ground or a wave and actual vote shares. Link of article below:

https://politicalbaaba.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/biharelections-politicalbaaba-bihar-projections/

Bihar has 6.4 crores of voters, out of which 3.6 crore voters cast their vote in Lok Sabha elections in May 2014. All the sample sizes are less than 1%. In terms of representation, while India Today covers only 1/3rd, ABP Nielsen covers only 37 constituencies. All others have covered all 243 seats.

There is a huge difference between preferred CM candidate Nitish leads the pack but is top choice of only 29% (India Today) vs 47% in C Voter poll. One of the reasons could be multiple choices were offered to respondents in Cicero vs limited options in C Voter. The 2nd choice Sushil Modi gets similar votes in all polls. As per latest C Voter poll, Nitish is seen losing 6% votes from earlier poll in Sep. and Sushil Modi 3%.

One last thing, the latest track record of these polling agencies. In the last assembly elections, India Today – Cicerco got it right when they projected Aam Aadmi Party win in Delhi. India TV – C Voter got it wrong as they projected BJP to win. Similarly ABP – Nielsen got it right and Zee News got it wrong (it projected a tight fight win BJP sneaking through).

So which of these polls will be correct? Only time will tell.

One common theme (despite both polls putting their neck out and projecting winners) is that the elections are damn close. Anything can happen and it will all boil down to each seat, which party in the alliance gets the ticket, number of independent candidates, rebel candidates, seamless transfer of votes across alliance partners and the smaller parties / spoilers affect which alliance more.

The change in C Voter poll results show that the momentum is building in favour of NDA and Janata losing out. There could also be a sweep based on Zee News survey (biggest sample size) if NDA gets vote share of >50% (150-165 seats). Toh picture abhi baaki hai doston…

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