Exit Polls 2019: BJP May Be Ahead but the Numbers Don’t Add Up

Exit poll predictions range from 267 by Nielsen to 339-365 by Axis for NDA and 82 by Ipsos to 132 by VMR for UPA.

3 min read
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems all set for a second term in office, at least that’s what all the exit polls released on Sunday, 19 May, seem to be indicating. While that might actually be the case when the results are declared on 23 May, the devil lies in the detail. There’s a need to dissect the exit polls on two counts:

  1. Vote Share
  2. State-Wise picture

Vote Share Tells A Story

Not every agency gave detailed vote share predictions, which is unfortunate as that lies at the core of any poll. The scope for errors increases manifold when one tries to convert vote share predictions into seat projections.

Let’s compare the vote share predictions of four of the polling agencies. The estimate for NDA’s vote share ranges from 41.1 percent predicted by Times Now/VMR to 48.5 percent predicted by News18-Ipsos. CVoter was in between at 42.3 percent. The NDA’s vote share in 2014 was about 38.5 percent.


For UPA, it ranges from 25 percent predicted by Axis to 31.7 percent predicted by VMR. CVoter’s prediction is 29.6 percent.

Interestingly, both CVoter and VMR predict a huge jump in the UPA’s vote share from 2014: around 6 to 9 percent. So, two out of these four surveys predict that the UPA’s vote share gains are higher than that of the NDA.

The seat-share makes this even more interesting. Despite predicting a less than 10 percent vote share gap between NDA and UPA, Times Now VMR has predicted a difference in seat share of 174 seats with NDA projected to win 306 and UPA 132.

On the other hand, CVoter, which puts the vote share difference at around 13 percent, gives a narrower seat difference of 159: between 287 for NDA and 128 for UPA.

The overall predictions range from 267 by Nielsen to 339-365 by Axis for NDA and 82 by Ipsos to 132 by VMR for UPA.

But even if one looks at seats and not vote share, the surveys have major variations if we go state-wise.

State-Wise Differences

Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, the predictions range from around 65 seats for NDA predicted by Today’s Chanakya and India Today-Axis to 33 seats predicted by ABP-Nielsen and 38 seats predicted by CVoter. This is a difference of over 30 seats in the NDA’s seat share.

Regarding the Mahagathbandhan, the predictions range from 13 seats predicted by Chanakya and 10-16 predicted by Axis to 40 by CVoter and 45 by Nielsen.

However, almost all surveys are on the same page regarding the Congress being at about 2 seats.

West Bengal

The same goes for West Bengal where each survey has a different take. On one hand is the News18-Ipsos survey giving 3-5 seats to the BJP and 36-38 to the TMC, and on the other, there is the Axis survey which gives 19-22 seats to both the parties. Today’s Chanakya predicts a similar figure giving 23 to TMC and 18 to BJP. ABP Nielsen gives 24 to TMC and 16 to BJP. CVoter is somewhere in between, giving 29 seats to TMC and 11 to BJP.

Andhra Pradesh

Another state where surveys are giving diverging predictions is Andhra Pradesh. Two surveys show the TDP having a lead in the state while others predict that the YSRCP is ahead.

According to Today’s Chanakya, the TDP could win 17 seats and the YSRCP 8. India Today-Axis’ prediction is the other way around: 18-20 for YSRCP and 4-6 for TDP. CVoter has predicted 14 seats for TDP and 11 for YSRCP. Ipsos predicts the reverse: 13-14 for YSRCP and 10-12 for TDP.



While almost all surveys predict the BJP making huge gains in Odisha, there are differences in the extent to which this is happening. The predictions for BJP range from 15-19 seats predicted by Axis and 14 by Today’s Chanakya to 8 seats by Nielsen and 6-8 seats by IPSOS. For BJD, Today’s Chanakya predicts 7 seats, Axis predicts as less as 2-6 but Nielsen has given Naveen Patnaik’s party 12 seats and IPSOS gives it 12-14.

CVoter predicts a close contest with the BJP projected to win 10 and BJD 11.


Exit polls also give diverging pictures for the 28 seats in Karnataka. Today’s Chanakya and Ipsos give BJP 21-23 seats and Axis has given 21-25. Both polls predict the Congress-JD(S) combine winning 6 seats or less.

On the other hand, the Nielsen poll predicts 15 seats for NDA and 13 for UPA. CVoter gives 18 to NDA and 9 to UPA.

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