Bihar Election: Why This Big Mismatch in Pre-Poll Surveys and Exit Polls?


Tejashwi Yadav (L) and Nitish Kumar

C Voter Poll: Grand Alliance, 120; NDA, 116 / Chanakya:  Grand Alliance,  185; NDA, 55 / Jan Ki Baat:  Grand Alliance,  118-138; NDA, 91-117 / Dainik Bhaskar:  Grand Alliance,  71-81; NDA, 120-127

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

PATNA – The most interesting aspect of the Exit Polls in Bihar is that almost all of them show that the Grand Alliance is ahead of the National Democratic Alliance. This is in total contrast to almost all the pre-poll surveys done till the last week of October. They all predicted a clear-cut victory for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA.

How can this happen when even the pro-NDA journalists had by the end of October started realising, at least in private, that the Tejashwi Prasad Yadav-led Alliance is much ahead of the Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party combine.

No doubt, psephology is a science; but how is it that there is so much variation in the pre-poll study and the one done just after the polling?

In almost 90 per cent of time since 1995 – when Lalu Prasad led the then Janata Dal to a thumping victory in Assembly election – the pre-poll surveys and Exit Polls have grossly under-estimated the performance of his party or alliance. It is for the first time that at least the Exit Polls are unanimous in showing that the Grand Alliance being led by his son is much ahead of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led NDA.

Even in 2015, several Exit Polls showed that not the Grand Alliance, but the NDA, then led by the BJP, is going to get power.

However, a couple of studies did show that the Grand Alliance would win. But none highlighted that the figure would cross the mark of 130. .

Ironically, one study which revealed that the then Grand Alliance would end up getting around 178 seats could not get space in any television channel.

Pre-poll surveys are somewhat different as they are, it is often alleged, done to create an atmosphere in favour of a particular party or alliance. But the Exit Polls should be near the mark.

Still they often go horribly wrong.

For example, in December 2017 Chhattisgarh Assembly election, the Congress ended up winning 66 out of 90 seats. Only one Exit Poll gave that figure. Another Exit Poll gave almost half the number of seats to the Congress.

Sometimes wrong Exit Polls mar the celebrations as it happened in the case of Bihar in 2015. As several Exit Polls showed that the NDA would win and the early morning trend on the counting day, that is November 8, indicated a victory for it, the BJP offices both in Delhi and Patna wore a festive look. Orders were placed for sweets and other delicacies. The panellists, who had predicted the Grand Alliance win were soon cornered in different TV studios. But by 10:00 am the trend started changing. The celebrations proved to be pre-matured and all the orders of ‘halwa’ and ‘puris’ were cancelled. The panellists predicting the NDA victory were at a loss of word to explain his or her position.

Anyway the Exit Poll suggests that one-to-one Nitish Kumar’s party tally is going to be half of the party led by a young chap just half his age. But then it is only prediction and let us see what would be the actual result.

Even in 2015 when both the RJD and Janata Dal (United) as the Grand Alliance partners contested 101 seats each Lalu Yadav’s party bagged 80 against 71 by Nitish Kumar’s outfit.

If the actual result goes the same way then the days ahead for the top NDA leaders in Bihar would be difficult ones.

Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.


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